When we energize and uplift others—and do the same for ourselves—we become leaders and make the world a better place.
By Marnie Schneider
We all need an advocate to cheer for us! I believe that what makes a true leader is the ability to energize and uplift others. I have been a cheerleader for those I care about and for people I don’t know, but I have also had times when I needed support.
I’ve had some really unbelievable experiences growing up with a grandfather who owned an NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and a mom who was by all accounts the original glass “field” breaker when she became the general manager, vice president, and legal counsel of the team.
One of my most significant memories started with lots of tears and the kindness of a stranger who could sense I was in need of some encouragement, wisdom and kindness!
What I recall about that day was that we were in the “Lone Star State” watching the Dallas Cowboys play my football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. I was in my preteens, a mouth full of hideous braces, still sporting my baby fat, and proudly wearing a kelly-green sweater dress—it was the 80s after all. Little did I know, when the out-of-bounds stranger entered my life, our connection would wind up having a lifelong impact on me and become a game-changing moment!
We were at Texas Stadium cheering on the Eagles. There I was sitting in the visiting owner’s box, with a heaping plate of barbecue ribs on my lap and crying hysterically over another heartbreaking Eagles loss, when a stunning platinum blonde, with a warm smile, outfitted in that amazing Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader (DCC) eye-catching sparkly uniform approached me. Miss DCC, who had been watching the game with us and cheering along, leaned in and whispered in my ear, with her full-on southern drawl, “Sweet girl, when I was your age my granny gave me some advice, and if you follow it, you’ll see that the stars of the universe will always shine on you.” (By the way, it’s no coincidence that the Cowboys logo is a bright blue star.) She continued and said, “My granny said, ‘Be your own head cheerleader! Every year you will have to work hard to make the squad! Grab your pom-poms and get out there! Promise me you will always go the distance, be there for yourself and others.’” Then the cheerleader added, “We have a saying around here that is a direct quote from Roger Staubach. ‘There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.’” She made me feel so much better. She hugged me and was gone.
I was mesmerized by that moment and committed to following her granny’s advice. I’m a huge fan of those Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders! Some kids decide they want to be a doctor from seeing their pediatrician give a shot and make it painless or a lawyer from watching Law and Order. My role model now was a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. It was then that I knew my calling after her encouragement! Cheering for others is a skill, and it can make you a leader, a CHEERLEADER!
Be Your Own Cheerleader
What I didn’t know then, and would have never thought as a mother would happen to me, was that several years later my first-born son would be diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an often life-threatening type of cancer that affects young children. As a strong woman, I can chew glass and think it’s ok, but when your baby even has a hangnail, it hurts.
This was major, and I knew I had better be prepared for the worst. My innate cheering skills were at the max. I was ready but any extra reinforcements were always welcomed! At the time, I was living in Los Angeles. I was driving up La Cienega Blvd. after a rough day for my son at Cedar Sinai Hospital, when I noticed in a storefront window a mannequin that was a perfect replica of my sparkly Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader! I parked my car and immediately entered this kingdom of costumes. I felt like I was cheating on my home team, but it was a superhero costume to me. I had to have it! The costume helped give me the boost I needed to get back on the field to kick some cancer ass!
It is more than ok to be your own cheerleader. In fact, it is ok to yell and scream and jump around and know in your heart that you will be a winner when you surround yourself with a team of cheering champions. It may be awkward at first, but it’s good to feel confident and cheer for yourself. To this day, the greatest victory I have experienced is getting my son well. Thanks to amazing doctors and nurses and a lot of cheering and praying from my family, loved ones and strangers, he is a healthy, thriving young man, my coauthor on Football Freddie GameDay in Atlanta, and definitely dreaming of those Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders! That is why I leave my costume locked away in my closet. Only I know where it is hidden.
The Value and Importance of Cheering
Cheerleaders make the world a better place. It is an outstanding support system for you that leads you in as part of the crowd. It is a thrill to cheer!
I love everything about football, and really all sports! I pray for the health and safety of all the players who played and are currently playing! I love speaking sports and watching athletes and coaches bring everything they have to give us fans something to cheer for!
I want to thank all the leaders out there who have cheered for me; the list is long enough to fill up a few NFL stadiums! It includes my three spectacular, amazing kids, my extraordinary loving friends (old ones and new ones all over the world from Paris to Philly), a close friend of mine who was a former NFL cheerleader who gave me the chance to cheer for her while she was going through cancer treatments, all the brave first responders, veterans, and military out there who keep us safe. Thank you!
And I ’m super lucky to have outstanding parents—especially my MVP mother who is the captain and head cheerleader for me! I am honored and humbled!
Marnie Schneider is CEO of the nonprofit Gameday and an inspirational speaker, author, podcaster, philanthropist, certified Happiness Life Coach, and—best of all—daughter and mom. A Philadelphia native now living in the Carolinas, she consistently devotes her time and resources to help others achieve their own victory. Marnie thinks of this as “showing up” on life’s playing field, with positivity and energy, day in and day out. Her passion for sports shines through in her book series, Gameday in the USA, which is in the Top 100 Kids Sports Travel books by Amazon. Marnie’s pride is her three kids—Jonathan, Goldie and Leo—and she has a heart for animals and has two rescue dogs and her handsome pony, Billy. For more information visit: https://www.marnieschneider.com and https://www.gamedayintheusa.com.