We saw this post on Facebook and had to share their story. Howard and Jaycee, you’re everything that is right about our sport. Good luck at The Summit with Louisiana Powerhouse Cheer and we hope you are proud of your last performance on the blue mat.
By: Howard Harper
Ok. Anybody that knows me or has seen anything that I post on Facebook knows the story. In 2010 in the midst of a terrible divorce, my ex-wife enrolled my 8-year-old daughter in a cheerleading gym in a nearly abandoned mall that had been thrown together by a young woman who financed it with money she had won in a bikini contest. Anybody that was around me back then knows that I hated “all things cheer”. I refused to be a part of it or pay even one cent toward it. At the time both my kids were into rodeo which I viewed as a superior sport to this glorified tumbling class called cheerleading (boy was I wrong). Sometime after that my ex-wife had evidently decided it was a bad idea. My daughter, on the other hand, had decided it was a great idea. My daughter called one day crying about having to quit over the initial cost of it all. I reluctantly borrowed $100 from my dad and went to pay down on a uniform that was made up of less cotton than I had seen in the top of an aspirin bottle.
Through the circumstances of a divorce that had taken just about every bad turn you can imagine, Jaycee and I wound up alone.
One of the dangers of being a single parent is that you begin to think that your kid is better off with their friends that have more stable two-parent homes for things like sleepovers and such. This gives you more free time to make every bad decision a single parent can make about going out, dating, drinking, etc. This is why you see otherwise good parents go nuts after a divorce and start to neglect their kids. That is unless something rescues you before it begins to happen. For me and Jaycee that rescue came in the form of that “mat in the mall” and the bikini contest winner, Amber Ware Becnel, and Louisiana Powerhouse cheer. Amber had created a world that Jaycee and I could call home and claim as family and we didn’t even know it yet. I was just dutifully going to the cheerleading competitions like a good dad. Toward the end of the first year, two broken teams were combined for one last competition in Thibodaux LA. With only two weeks to practice, a group of 8 and 9-year-olds pulled off a performance that I absolutely could not believe. I found myself wanting to see what they could get done next season. In short, I was becoming a fan. Late into the second or third year, the rodeo thing started to go away. I began to sell off horses, saddle, trailer and all. All except an old 1999 Monaco Diplomat bus that Jaycee and I started traveling to cheer competitions in. If I remember right. One night during a little bit of drinking it was Amanda Brasso that made a joke about what to call it and the “Cheermobile” was born.
Over the next 8 years me and Jaycee were treated like no less than family by the people we met through LPH which is a hard thing for a single parent and a daughter to find. Through this gym we have made friends that we will have the rest of our lives. They have helped me with every “girl problem” you can imagine and trusted me to haul their kids all over the country in the Cheermobile from Houston to southern Florida and it has been fun.
Together with our kids we have taped ankles, iced sore muscles, driven all night, made signs, screamed and hollered for them, celebrated and cried with them, passed out hugs, wiped away tears, and spent lots and lots of money. Through it all me and Jaycee have always had a place to belong and friends that love us and would and have done anything for us. I love this place with all my heart. Even met my wife because of cheerleading.
Today the “Cheermobile” leaves on its final voyage as such. One last cheerleading and it’s all over for me and Jaycee. Her and the level 4 team Royal has made it to the D2 Summit National Cheerleading Championships. What a way to end it all. Can’t really put all the emotion into a Facebook post. I just hope that the girls of team Royal know how much we love them. I hope they know how proud of them we are for all their hard work and dedication. And for me, I hope Jaycee and Royal know how grateful I am that they are taking me on one last Grand Adventure before it’s all over. Most of all, I hope Amber and the coaches, athletes, parents, and staff know how grateful Jaycee and are for everything yall have done for us over the last 9 years. Yall saved our lives…
Florida here we come. Stay tuned yall I will let yall know how they do.