Cheerleading is a Bavarian thing
Welcome to V-Town Panthers home: where 75 sisters, bored of soccer and folk dancing, reach the air every week
I’ve known Theresa probably fifteen years, and as I sit at her kitchen table, we talk endlessly about growing up here. Those summers around the lake. Childhood. Our friend Markus.
It’s the kind of place where you stay around the same people from birth, right through school, until everyone moves out to the bigger cities to study. Summers are warm enough to spend outdoors in the fields and lakes. I like escaping Munich for the slower pace of life out here.
“I’ve got to take my sister to cheerleading practice,” Theresa says after about an hour. “But come along if you want.”
We pick up two others along the way, and the car is filled with excited noise. They start telling me how around twenty years ago, some girls in the town had been bored of the soccer and Bavarian folk dancing dichotomy. They wanted an all-girls social club playing a different sport. Seventy-five sisters now congregate here twice a week to run, sing, shout and throw their friends in the air.
“You know what we do with new visitors?” Theresa’s sister asks.
The three girls fell about laughing. Uh oh. Two hours later I’d know.
Does the sweat come from my nerves, the exertion of clambering up a tower of people or this panther suit? My toes are a good twelve feet off the mat, my oversized furry head a further six above that. It sure is a good thing I can’t see out very well. “Now bend your knees and jump – we’ll catch you!” Wirklich? “Come on!”
When I finally do, I’m in the air for longer than a flight to Sydney. Every second feels a second closer to heaven, then to the floor. When they do eventually catch me – and I was convinced they wouldn’t – I feel a rush of relief and adrenaline. They let me down onto the mat again and we laugh, we high-five, we dance in the togetherness that keeps these girls coming back, week after week.
They make me keep the mascot outfit on for a team picture. Look, there I am, in the front row of the V-Town Panthers: Mama, I made it!
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