By Tim Whyte
Part 2 of 2: The Girl
Here’s everything you need to know about my 17-year-old daughter:
Messing around on the computer recently, she stumbled across some old video of her big brother. It was from June 2004, when he was 8 — so she would have been almost 3 at the time. He was riding a scooter in a campground, and he was caught on video urging me to record him doing a “trick” on his scooter.
Dutiful Dad recorded the “trick,” which consisted of him riding the scooter forward and doing a little hop about an inch and a half off the ground. Big Air!
Luc apparently thought this was his ticket to the X Games.
Telling me about the video she found, Brooke cackled: “It’s sooo hilarious! Eight-year-old Luc thinks he’s so much cooler than he is!”
She could barely control herself, she was laughing so hard, at her brother’s expense, while he was 1,300 miles away at college.
And, when my wife Erin and I suggested it might be fun to show the video to Luc’s girlfriend Jennie someday, Brooke replied:
“Oh, I already sent it to her.”
That’s Brooke. She found embarrassing childhood video of her older brother, and what’s the first thing she does with it? She sends it directly to his girlfriend — but only after adding a caption that says, “Luc Whyte, the man, the myth, the legend… the scooter pro.”
She’s merciless, this one.
When I left The Signal in 2007, I had written quite a few columns about our adorable little blonde princess. That was before she grew up to be a wise-ass.
Much has transpired in her life during the gap between my first stint at The Signal and my second one. When I left the paper in ’07, she was 5, sweet, and cute as a button. I volunteered that spring in her kindergarten class. A couple of the kids in that class are still her friends to this day.
Now, she’s 17, she drives — a little too confidently for my taste — she’s already committed to attend Washington State University next fall, she’s an honor student, she aspires to be a physician’s assistant, and she’s a captain of her cheerleading team and a four-year member of the varsity comp squad at Saugus High.
She has three times as many Twitter followers as her hockey-playing brother. She has nearly twice as many Twitter followers as I do. And, as editor of The Signal, aren’t I supposed to be some kind of Big Deal around town?
Plus, she’s got mad tumbling skills. In fact, a couple of years ago she started this thing where she did a back handspring for every letter of S-A-U-G-U-S as her teammates chanted out the letters.
I joked that she should do C-E-N-T-U-R-I-O-N-S, which is longer (and, thus, requires four more back handsprings).
I was kidding.
“Challenge accepted,” she said.
Then she did it.
Yeah, I’m proud.
Just as we’ve lived through every twist and turn of our son’s hockey exploits, we’ve lived through every backflip, back-handspring and layout of Brooke’s cheer adventures. She started out in gymnastics at Gymnastics Unlimited — shout-out to GU owners Craig and Lisa Eichman and the incredible coaches they employ, in particular Courtney Starks. Brooke took those gymnastics skills to cheerleading when she was about 10, cheering Warrior youth football.
Once she hit high school, it got more serious: Saugus High happens to have the only local public high school cheer squad that regularly participates in cheer competition, which is a mix of cheering, dance, tumbling and stunting. Those who say it’s not a sport have never watched these kids train and compete.
It’s physical. It’s artistic. It’s demanding. It’s dangerous. It’s exciting.
A few weeks back, I watched her cheer her last high school football game. It marked the end of an era — the last of our Friday night excursions to watch our girl and her pals exhort the football guys to victory, throwing in some stunts and tumbling runs in the process.
It also marked the beginning of her last high school comp season, because the very next day the cheer girls were in Anaheim, competing for a spot in the United Cheer Association national championships in Florida. It’s the one that gets shown on ESPN every year.
And here’s where I’m slipping in a little plug: Brooke and the rest of the Saugus High School varsity comp squad won their division (large varsity) at the regional competition and qualified for the nationals in Orlando.
My kids — they don’t pick the cheapest sports around.
We’re going to Florida, apparently. And, we’re fundraising: You can go to bit.ly/2SdR0qF if you’d like to help cover the Saugus girls’ expenses as they represent the Santa Clarita Valley in the nation’s biggest high school cheer competition.
That, too, will be another bittersweet moment as time marches on — one step closer to our girl moving on from youth and high school and going away to college.
Through all of it, Brooke has grown into a bright, confident, witty young woman, who’s not only unafraid to take on her big brother, but also her dad.
Example: This past summer, we went to a couple of big country music concerts. We saw Florida Georgia Line at the Midstate Fair in Paso Robles and we saw Luke Bryan at Dodger Stadium. We had some fun times and built some great memories. (Maybe sometime later I’ll tell the story of how I got lost while walking through the Dodger Stadium parking lot after the concert…)
Anyhoo. During these experiences, it occurred to me that it might be nice to have a record of what a great time we were having. So, I went Facebook live.
Apparently, this was not the coolest Dad Thing I have ever done. After one of those shows, Brooke said to me, dripping with sarcasm and disdain:
“Why is it that any time we do anything remotely cool you feel like you have to go Facebook live?”
Yep. That’s our girl.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal. His column appears Sundays.