Analyzing the cover: This picture made me snort with laughter. I am guessing Pres is watching from afar while the cheerleaders who are actually willing to cheer for girls’ sports practice their routines. Oh Pres, if you weren’t such a misogynist you wouldn’t have to sit there all by yourself with only your megaphone to keep you company.
Vanessa’s new boyfriend Chuck Maxwell has made a sport of verbally harassing the cheerleaders during games. He calls out such imaginative names as “sex kittens” and calls for Nancy to come sit on his shoulders. Nancy knows her dad would say that by being a cheerleader, she asked for this. If her dad would really say that he is terrible. Their coach tells them to ignore Chuck. He used to be on the basketball team but was kicked off for starting too many fights. Vanessa wants to use him to get double revenge on both the squad and the team.
Whenever Pres thinks he’s getting too serious with his girlfriend Kerry, he goes driving around the lake thinking about Vanessa and Mary Ellen. “He never had to go further down the list of girls from his past than that.” What exactly Pres is doing while he thinks about this list of girls is not clear, and I don’t want to know. Pres loves Kerry, but something is just never quite right. Whatever dude. You’re annoying.
After the latest game, some of the basketball players pat the girls on their rears on the way to the locker room. Nancy, sensitive after Chuck’s persistent onslaught during the game, starts to question why they get treated like public property. “Comes with the territory,” Mary Ellen says. “This territory is private,” Nancy replies. Go girl. At a post-game party, Mary Ellen is pretending to listen to a basketball player named Willy, but she’s really got her eye on Patrick, as usual.
Susan Yardley, who was good friends with Nancy in Book 1 when she also tried out for cheerleading, has reappeared for the sake of a new storyline. She asks Coach Engborg, who for some reason has been invited to Willy’s party, if the cheerleaders could come and cheer at the girls’ volleyball games. Susan is on the team. Coach Engborg says it’s school policy that the squad doesn’t do girls’ sports, and it’s mostly because they don’t have the time.
Mary Ellen dances with Patrick at the party, then he leaves. Vanessa creeps over and says “When you’re with Patrick you look like you’d be ready for ANYTHING.” Mary Ellen throws her Coke on her, and Vanessa returns the favor. Then Mary Ellen runs out of the party crying for Patrick. He takes her home, and she insinuates she would sleep with him, but he wants a real commitment from her. She agrees to go on a date with him.
At the next practice, the squad gets in a heavy discussion about whether or not they should be cheering for girls’ sports. Nancy and Angie are most passionate, with Olivia in the middle and Mary Ellen not really caring. Walt and Pres laugh it off. “Girls are a sport, all by themselves. Just for their looks,” Pres says. He says if the crowds at girls’ sports were bigger, they’d have to be able to handle more stupid comments like those of Chuck Maxwell. Nancy and Olivia are starting to think Pres isn’t all that different from Chuck. “I’m not interested in practicing – I don’t want you to touch me, Pres Tilford,” Nancy tells him angrily. Practice ends early, and Nancy runs to her boyfriend Josh to tell him all about it – only he agrees that it would be a waste of time to cheer for girls. “Girls don’t need to be prepared to be aggressive. They don’t have to bring home the bacon.” Nancy tells him he’s living in another century, then storms out.
Angie, Olivia, and Nancy decide to start practicing routines on their own for the volleyball games until the policy about girls sports and cheerleading can be changed. Walt and Pres are not amused. Mary Ellen is still just sort of whatever about it all. Vanessa meanwhile has been made aware of the dissension in the group, and tells Angie she wants to make sure they fail at getting the policy changed. The girls decide they need a guy to cheer with them at the girls’ volleyball games, so they ask Perfect Patrick. When they explain to him the situation, he says he agrees that cheerleaders should represent everyone. With a little more cajoling, Patrick agrees to help them out even though he doesn’t know the first thing about cheerleading. The real squad continues to fall apart over their differences.
Pres and Kerry fight because he says he shouldn’t have to cheer for girls, and Kerry says the cheerleaders aren’t really that great anyway. Pres brings up again how Kerry won’t go further with him than kissing and then storms away to race his car around the lake.
Mary Ellen and Patrick go to the movie theater, where they see Vanessa and Chuck along with Pres and a new girl, Cassandra. Then Angie and Arne come up with Kerry and Angie’s brother Andrew, who Kerry dated before Pres stole her away. Awkward. Mary Ellen has no desire to stick around “with this collection of people.” She and Patrick leave for the lake and steam up his garbage truck windows.
Pres is being a tool on the way to the next basketball game, as he is now all buddy-buddy with Chuck and Vanessa. Angie trips and hurts herself, and Chuck implies that Pres caused it, but Pres says he didn’t. Nancy refuses to go near Pres now, and Coach Engborg is at her wit’s end with this group of morons.
The volleyball team goes to the next school board meeting, and Susan stands up to ask if a discussion about the cheerleading policy can be put on the agenda, but the superintendent – Vanessa’s dad – says they have to request something be put on the agenda before the meeting, not during.
The squad is going to a state tournament in Cedar Point. Pres begs Mary Ellen to ride with him to school, and crows about how he’s not a one-woman kind of guy and he might sleep with Cassandra while in Cedar Point. Basically he’s being a creep. Then his Porsche breaks down, and ME wishes she was with Patrick. “Pres might have money, but Patrick was more man than money could ever buy.” Pres thinks someone tampered with his car. They have to sit there and wait as the clock ticks down to the bus leaving for the tournament. Coach Engborg doesn’t want to wait for them and names Olivia as captain. “Vanessa is always letting me know she’s ready to step in… I think I’ll use her this weekend…” Engborg says. I think I know who messed with Pres’ car, guys.
The absence of ME and Pres makes everyone else band together despite all their recent fighting. Olivia insists to the coach that they don’t need Vanessa. For some reason as the first game goes on, Engborg keeps saying they should bring in Vanessa. When Nancy feels sick, they finally relent, and Vanessa trots out onto the court in Nancy’s uniform. She’s out there for maybe 2 minutes before she is already showing off and crashes into a referee. Chuck calls out Nancy’s name as a way to confuse people as to who the cheerleader is. The event causes a huge ruckus and makes the local news, ticking off Engborg who tells Vanessa to get bent.
Vanessa has another plan up her sleeve. Vanessa’s stunt running into the ref is being talked about as if it was done on purpose to disrupt the game, which Tarenton was losing, and turn around momentum so they could win. In a ridiculous scheme, Vanessa gets back in Nancy’s uniform and goes to one of the cute ref’s hotel rooms, making sure people see her go inside. I guess she sleeps with him. Doesn’t anyone care about statutory rape charges around here? Rumors start that it was Nancy who was colluding with a referee, and the news even reports that it was her who caused the mess at the game. Everything sure does work out perfectly for Vanessa.
Pres and Mary Ellen finally show up. Everyone still hates Pres. Patrick is upset that ME was riding with Pres. Nancy’s boyfriend Josh is upset too, of course, due to all the rumors about her. The stupid superintendent saw the news and doesn’t believe that it was actually his angelic daugther, who has been caught doing a multitude of terrible things, that made such a huge scene. This whole book is a mess.
Pres’ new chick Cassie dumps him, which somehow makes him realize what a jerk he has become. The Tarenton bus is vandalized by another team, with “sex kittens” written all over it and caricatures of curvy women. This causes the squad to get in a big philosophical discussion about how the girls are degraded, and Pres and Walt are sympathetic and decide to support the girls in cheering for the volleyball team. Tarenton wins the basketball tournament, and everyone is happy. I feel like this book was left with a hundred loose ends. Will they be addressed in the next book? I doubt it, but we’ll see.
Other notes and quotes
- Mary Ellen can’t help getting a dig in at Angie. “One trial date with Patrick only led to another one, kind of like Angie with chocolate bars.”
- Mary Ellen is worried when Patrick brings his camera to the school board meeting. “Don’t pretend you’re one of those investigative reporters from KTAR, okay? They’re always getting punched in the face.”
Sign of the Times
- It is mentioned multiple times how well the U.S. did in volleyball at the Olympics. In the 1984 Olympics, the U.S. men got a gold medal and the women got silver.
Author: Jody Sorenson
Next time on Cheerleaders… How does Mary Ellen test Patrick’s love to the limit? Read Cheerleaders #10, BETRAYED.