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Beach Grit

Opinion: The WSL could sure use some cheerleaders

Jake M Tellkamp

by Jake M Tellkamp

The WSL would be vastly improved with the addition of professional dancing girls (and maybe boys!) … 

I was attending college in Encinitas, California, when I heard my destiny calling.

An Israeli national on my college surf team invited myself  and an Australian exchange student named Sam to accompany him to his home state of Florida for Passover.

Sam and I exchanged worried looks. The weekend coincided with Coachella and the idea of spending our spring-break eating challah bread sounded stale. Just as the Israeli national, a Jew named Yehuda, could hear our clumsy excuses, he informed us that this weekend was the National Cheerleading and Dance championships held at his local beach.

Seven thousand and five hundred college cheerleaders, the best of the deep south and Bible Belt.  Each spring they came to the dirty shores of Daytona beach for their annual “stunt fest”. Our desires turned from the desert in the west to the swamps in the east.

Sam and I finished our drinks in an audible gulp, tipped the bartender for her good service, and said “Fuck Yeah” as we  strolled into the cool desert night. We booked our tickets an hour later. It ran us $400 round-trip: San Diego to Phoenix and then on to Orlando. From there, it would be an hour or so drive to the shores of Daytona where Yehuda’s mother had arranged a condo in our honor.

It was a strike mission, get in, screw with an epic grandeur and get out. Yes, we were traveling with surfboards, but our hearts desired something more glamorous then the Floridian surf.

If you are to follow me next year to this weekend of indulgence, remember this: bring a soft board with you. Yehuda had it all figured out. I mean, he is the “Duke of Daytona” after all.

Surf lessons. 

Surf lessons for all willing women who don’t mind getting their  primed hair salty. Make a sign like we did:

Three Mates Surf Dates. $5 dollars for 10 waves.

Charge them minimally. To offer surf lessons for free would be sleazy and sleazy was too common in Daytona. We achieved legitimacy through the beauty of capitalism.

Most of these girls had never seen surfing before. The springtime banks of Daytona coupled with your soft board will make you a God in the eyes of these Southern Belles. Now, back to my story.

We were making a killing. It was impossible to meet demand. Clean twenties and fifties filled our backpack. Numbers filled our phone books, hints at nightly whereabouts were confirmed, and hotel addresses took precedence in our memory over our own. There was a ubiquitous answer among the smog of women. Rummels was where the cheerleaders were going or “stunt sluts” if you will and the delectable dance team girls were headed to 509’s right next door. With the ratio bordering 75:1, we knew we were in the running.

Attention deficit disorders fire when surrounded by this many women. Communication skills go haywire. Attempting to stay focused on one girl is like trying to maintain conversation with a passing car on the freeway. They were everywhere, coming in all shapes and sizes. Our standards rose to all-time highs.

After hours of pushing girls into knee-high waves, it was time to try another tactic. I shed my surf trunks for a more formal button up and black denim jeans. I had come here to Dayton for one other reason. I was on assignment for BeachGrit (You were? – The Bitchy Crab) in to which I was to pose the question, Does The WSL need cheerleaders?

I went to see the Georgia University Bulldogs. I asked a team mom if I could have access to her girls for an “interview.” She obliged with an ominous smile, asking me if I was with ESPN. I told her that I was a literary surf journalist.

The three girls I spoke too thought it would be an interesting change of pace moving from football fields to the beaches. That the exotic locations sounded more enticing then cities like Chicago and Cleveland. They were confused as to the whole prospect, however. Cheering for one surfer rather then a team didn’t make much sense to them.

So I broke down my reasoning. The Quiksilver Pro (Snapper Rocks) had just concluded in lacklustre conditions. Long lulls of no action plagued the viewing experience, dreary commentary put many to sleep.

I told the girls, whose attention was drawn inward with lack of understanding, that the newly minted governing body of surfing was hoping its large grandstand infrastructure would have people flocking to the beach. It was apparent that they wanted to have an audible cheer after the completion of a ride, that it gave the creative expression a more sporty feel.

The girls began to catch my drift.

“So if the WSL hires us, then they can have their contests where there isn’t a lot of people and entertain the audience when waves aren’t coming in”

“Yes!” I roared.

“And if they had us girls cheering on the beach, they could have their contests wherever they wanted”?

Yes! Sexy places like Indonesia and the Caribbean.

“We would all go together of course!”

They laughed at the notion, but the seed was planted, so to speak.

We went to Rummels and to 509’s as any opportunist would in our situation. It was a scene. Free drinks till 12 coupled with the return of the early 2000’s grinding fad.

I stand before you today, and with honesty in my heart, say that you haven’t lived until you’ve felt  hundreds of collegiate asses trying to frottage you simultaneously. It was a conga line of writhing bodies. Flesh gripped in gentle frenzies and subtle raptures. On every face, eyes closed, the same smile, calm and blissful.

I write this lengthy preface to explain my position and show that the idea of WSL cheerleaders is no wild-eyed dream; that even if the specific action, symbolic as it is, may seem farfetched, the fact remains that we are inevitably heading for something of the sort.

We need only glance at the less-than-awesome crowds on the beach to realise something needs to change.