Bookworm Sez
TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER
‘It’s Not About the Pom Poms’ is chummy with just enough gossip

March 22nd, 2012    Author: Administrator    Filed Under: Opinion

“It’s Not About the Pom-Poms” by Laura Vikmanis with Amy Sohn; c.2012, Ballantine Books $25.00 / $29.95 Canada; 283 pages

The season might be over, but you really do have to raise your glass to all the great entertainment you got from this last football season.

Salud to the quarterbacks. Yung sing to the kickers. Prosit to the coaches and managers. Santé to the owners – and to your fellow fans, skal.

To your health. Drink and win. Here’s to another great season.

Here’s to more points, more kicks, more punts and more goals. And more cheerleaders, please. Just remember that, as Laura Vikmanis (with Amy Sohn) says, “It’s Not About the Pom-Poms.”

Perhaps because her older sister took lessons, Laura Vikmanis always loved to dance. She started with ballet at age three, grew up loving the spotlight, and was a natural-born performer who, like many children then, was obsessed with pop culture; specifically, the movie Grease and its stars.

Vikmanis says that she wanted to be sexy some day, to turn heads and to have a man fall in love with her. Alas, she says she was flat-chested, short-legged, and felt unattractive. Boys often took advantage of her, which lowered her self-esteem.

Terri Schlichenmeyer


Things became even worse when Vikmanis married a man she barely knew; a man who turned out to be physically and verbally abusive.

Her already-low confidence took a dive and by time she was 30 years old, Vikmanis was an overweight, unhappy, isolated stay-at-home mother living far away from her Ohio family.

For years, Vikmanis made excuses for her husband until finally, she’d had enough. She filed for divorce, asked for primary custody, pulled up her bootstraps, and started to rebuild her life, her confidence, her health, and a career as a dietitician.

Eight years later, she was still putting her life in order when she learned of an opportunity that terrified and intrigued her: try-outs were being held for the Cincinnati Ben-Gals, the cheerleading team that performs at Bengals home games.

She’d always loved dance and she’d taught aerobics while living briefly in California. She was in pretty good shape and the rules never mentioned an age limit.

But could an almost-40-year-old mother find self-confidence in a teensy orange skirt?

The answer is yes, and cheerfully so, as you’ll see in this unique peek at a profession that most of us will never enter, and the woman who’s glad she did.

“It’s Not About the Pom-Poms” is not all U Rah Rah, though.

Author Laura Vikmanis (with Amy Sohn) writes with blunt honesty about her childhood and her marriage, both with abusers; the inner work she had to do on herself before she did the outer work to get in shape; and the truth about what it’s like in the (makeshift) locker room and the (woefully underpaid) glamour-job she enjoys.

Despite that there are incidents of TMI, I liked “It’s Not About the Pom-Poms.” It’s chummy, with just enough gossip, just enough sparkle, and plenty of inspiration to satisfy. If, in fact, you’ve always wondered what it might be like to do what Vikmanis does, you’ll do cartwheels over this book.

Cheers!

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.

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