By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
On flexibility and cheerleading
A Woman's View
Judi Tabler color mug

Sports have started again ... sort of ... and we are beginning to gather at football games according to the new rules in a “World by COVID.” I once again am enjoying watching the cheerleaders. 

And I am reminded of a funny, true event that happened years ago to one of the gals in our coffee group. Prudence is petite and has long blond hair; she is witty, and pretty. We don’t like her! (just kidding.)

Actually, we love her. She fits in our age-range, having graduated from high school in the mid 60s. And back then, in the dark ages, which were not as dark as today if you get what I am saying, she was a cheerleader.

Now, a cheerleader requirement is to be able to do some tricks; maybe do flips, do backbends, splits, or kick high. Or if you cannot do any of these, and have a loud voice, you can be the catcher when the limber “one” falls from her pyramid height.

You get the drift. Then there’s us.

Most of us cannot do the “flat on-the-floor” splits no matter how often we limber up, and we certainly cannot lie on our stomachs and touch our toes to our head. Nope. Backbends are pretty risky and flipping over to a standing position is a total impossibility. We are stiff as boards.  

For those of you who are naturally limber, and can cross your legs Indian style when sitting (comfortably) on the floor, for those of you who can reach a leg and foot behind your head while sitting on the floor, and for those of you who can do the splits easily, you won’t understand.

Prudence couldn’t do any of these remarkable maneuvers either. But oh, she wanted to. And she observed the others doing the splits, wishing she could do the same. 

It was Homecoming. There was a high school pep rally in the gymnasium. The entire school was watching as the cheerleaders led them in the school chant.

Prudence explained, “I wasn’t very athletic so I always got to be the clown one. We were on the gym floor, leading the serious school cheer, spelling out the name of our school - L-A-R-N-E-D. My hair was long. I hated being in front of people, so I would let my hair cover my face so I wouldn’t have to look at the crowd. I would watch Peggy, one of the girls on the squad to see what we were doing and to stay in sync.

“At the end of the chant, we did a big jump at the end. I would go down on one knee (with my hands in the cheer position) while they did the splits. But when I jumped, I went down and did the splits, but I didn’t mean to do the splits! I ended up on the floor, splayed out. The squad ran off while I was still on the floor, posing. The student body thought I was a part of the act, and they cheered. But I didn’t move. As I recall, it didn’t hurt, but I just couldn’t move.

“Let me tell you about Miss Henry. Miss Henry was a big woman, a P.E. teacher. She was the only person our football coach was afraid of. She was very hefty. I remained on the gym floor until Mrs. Henry came out and picked me up off the floor. But when she lifted me, it really hurt!  I’m surprised I didn’t pass out, and well, I screamed a lot of words ... not very proper words! Marcena Pettijohn was our Spanish teacher at the school. She has a roundish figure and big bosoms. I remember vividly their shaking as she folded her arms in front of her chest. Her comforting words were ‘Prudence! I didn’t think you knew such language!’ I ended up in the hospital for two weeks. I tore all the muscles inside my upper legs. My legs were black.” 

Prudence missed the big game that night, but the staff rolled her wheelchair to the window so she could see a part of the game field.

Laughingly, Prudence says that to this day, her oldest son says, “the reason I am inflexible is because of you, Mom.”

We all agreed that contortionists are probably born, not made! 

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at or juditabler@awomansview.