I chased a dream once and I caught it. At an early age I determined that music would be my life's passion. I started tinkering with my grandfather's piano and was eventually introduced to a "recorder" in elementary school. In the fifth grade, I was deemed old enough to participate in the band program at my school and it was determined by the band director that I might achieve success as a trombonist. My parents made arrangements for me to have my first trombone and I took to it quite nicely.
I enjoyed it very much but, in all honesty, after a while it stopped being challenging. Not that the trombone isn't difficult to play (it is) but the music that the instrument contributes is more often than not "background music" and I wanted to be a star. I wanted to play the flute. Unfortunately, at the time, "guys" didn't play the flute because it was, somehow, a "girls" instrument.
Sometimes it takes a lot of guts to chase a dream.
Sacha Heppell's dream of being Denver Broncos' first male cheerleader was dashed last Sunday when he was cut from the competition. The NFL team's judges welcomed him in the first round of the 2012 tryouts. It was an open call so anyone was welcome to try out and the judges decisions were based on dance ability alone. Heppell was thrilled that he was able to perform his routine but admitted that he had "messed up" a few times which more than likely led to him being eliminated from the competition.
Male cheerleaders are as common as marching bands in college football but, in the NFL, cheerleading has traditionally been women's work. NFL cheerleading focuses more on dancing and, dare I say, sex appeal than the gymnastics and tumbling found in college sports but that could be simply due to a lack of men in the sport.
Encouraged by college friends in the music education program, I taught myself how to the play the flute. And I loved it just as much as I thought I would. The sheer volume of notes and melodies afforded to the instrument thrilled and excited me. I performed several solo recitals and went on to be a soloist with the symphony orchestra before graduation. Mission accomplished ... dream a reality.
Even though Sacha Heppell won't be cheering for Payton Manning and the rest of the Broncos at Mile High stadium next season, he can certainly cross "Follow Your Dreams" and "Be An Inspiration" off of his Bucket List. Personally, I won't be surprised if we see men cheering for NFL teams in the not-too-distant future and, when we do, we'll have Sacha Heppell to thank for taking the first steps toward that goal.
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