My cheerleading dream began in the fourth grade. At school I received an announcement about the upcoming gymnastic skills demonstration at the Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department. That afternoon, as I rode the bus home, I held that notice tightly as if it was the last golden ticket allowing entrance into Wonka’s chocolate factory.
As soon as I got to the house, I raced into the kitchen and waved the invitation in front of my mother and my great-grandmother, Goggie, who lived with us. In a rush I explained that all my friends were going to the event, and I wanted to go, too. I was convinced that I would one day be a gymnast like the girls in the upcoming program. Accomplishing that goal seemed the first step in achieving a successful career as a NFL cheerleader.
Mother sweetly replied to my enthusiasm with the promise that we would certainly explore the opportunity. Thrilled, I grabbed a red pen and outlined September 12, 1978, on Mother’s day planner. I could hardly wait for that Tuesday evening to arrive.
On the night of the event, I sat spellbound between Mother and Goggie as we watched the athletes stand on their hands, do the splits, balance on thin beams, and back flip across padded mats. I listened attentively as the coach informed every child in attendance that she, too, had the potential to master the sport. When a clipboard was passed so that interested parties could provide their names and telephone numbers in order to learn more about upcoming opportunities, I wrote in my best fourth-grade script.
I hugged my friend Louise goodbye and practically vaulted across the parking lot and into the backseat of Mom’s station wagon. As she directed the car towards our Pawleys Island home, she asked Goggie, “What do you think about Tara taking gymnastics?”
In a voice that left no room for compromise, she replied, “Absolutely not. Southern ladies do not straddle their legs in public.”
At the time those words killed my cheerleading dreams, for the fifth commandment was taken seriously in my family. Honoring one’s father and mother extended to respecting the views of one’s grandparents, too! While I knew Mother would chat with Daddy when we got home, I recognized that Daddy and Goggie rarely lacked consensus. Dreams of cheering along the sidelines for the Cowboys or Broncos evaporated.
But as God always does in His perfect plan and timing, He chose to fulfill the desires of my heart in a way exceeding my own narrow plans. In 1998, I married Lee Reeves, the son of Dan Reeves, who is one of the NFL’s best-known coaches. Today, while I may not cheer teams in Seattle or San Francisco, I am head cheerleader in my home. Each day I offer encouragement and support for my husband, for our three children, and for each precious person the Lord puts in my path.