Matt Harris is so CheerMAD, he has created an alter ego, if not cheer Super Hero: Big Chief Wannamak'emcheer.
The proud father of a double-teaming 14-year old at Ultimate Starz Athletics in Weymouth, Massachusetts, Matt explains "I started "Big Chief Wannamak'emcheer as a gag at first. Now it's grown bigger than I could have imagined."
With his 11 -year old son who also gets in on the fun by also dressing in costume, Matt has met celebrities, appeared on TV and in the press several times while in character around the country.
"There's no better way to get through 48-hours of a cheer comp" Matt says. "Especially when my favorite cheerleader gives me a huge hug after she performs to say thank you for being me!"
Comp day with the Chief.
Here's an example of what a typical cheer weekend for Matt, of Chief Wannamakeemcheer, is like, in his own, er, Matt's words:
The alarm goes off at 6 AM, on a cold Saturday morning in March.
He begins to get his tired 46 year old frame out of bed, bone by bone. Knees and back sore beyond belief from too many hours on the ice, playing hockey.
But today, those knees seem to have a little more bounce in them. Is it because he has recently dropped a ton of weight? No, it’s because, this is cheer season and we’re in in full swing! He makes his way downstairs, and he can hear the moaning and fussing of his bride and his favorite 14 year-old double teaming cheerleader, as they have already been up a while preparing today’s version of teased out, super mega-hold sprayed hair, out in the kitchen.
As he walks in the kitchen, he encounters a thick hairspray fog, and thinks to himself, “This can’t be healthy.” With every other stroke of the brush, comes a high pitched complaint, which is quickly met with the often heard threat of: “We’re not gonna do this again next year!!”
Without even looking at him, the Bride says, “We need to be on the road by seven, So & So and her mom will be here at 6:55 because they are driving with us. We have to check in at 8:25, and we NEED to hit Dunks first. So if your gonna do your thing, you better get going.”
“My thing? This has become way bigger, than just my thing?” He thinks to himself while mockingly wiggling his head, but being careful not to utter a peep because he doesn’t want all of that hair rage coming down on him. He takes a deep breath and heads back through the ominous cloud of hairspray. “Phew”, he exhales and he made it out of the kitchen alive.
Time to head back upstairs to get his 10 year old sidekick out of bed. Before entering, he surveys the minefield that is his son’s bedroom, from the doorway, and thinks better of it.
“Dude, you painting up?” He says while still trying to stretch out his back.
A muffled “Yup” comes up from under the covers.
“Then let’s go.”
A few moments later, like Punxsutawney Phil, a buzzed cut, reddish-blonde head pops up from under those same covers.
“OK…. Let’s do this!” says the little lacrosse goalie, as he bounds from the mattress to the hallway and scrambles down the stairs.
Since the ladies have occupied the kitchen, the boys need to set up shop in the living room. The boy grabs a kitchen stool, while dad totes in an oversized zip-lock bag. In the bag, the tools of their new found seasonal trade: paint brushes, body paint, eye-liner markers, and glitter to name just a few. The boy already wearing a pair of black sweatpants, takes his position on the stool, as he pulls on his older sister’s black and purple cheer gym sweatshirt from last year’s season.
“Ready to go!"
First task: A symmetrical outline needs to be applied with eyeliner. The intended look is a cross breed of Gene Simmons meets Ultimate Warrior kind of design. Not an easy task, because the boy’s nose twitches like a bunny every time you touch his face with the pencil. After four hundred and eighty-five “hold stills”, several sneezes, many squirms and giggles, the outline is finally done.
The purple and black body paint is next on the list of instructions. The globby colored piles are individually placed on their palette, which is actually a Tupperware lid, and placed in the microwave for 10 seconds.
“Is that safe?” asks the Bride.
“Who knows? It can’t be any worse than the fog that is going on in here,” Is the response, as he watches the globs shrink in to puddles.
The microwave’s timer bell rings, and as soon as the door opens, everyone gets a whiff of something that truly cannot be explained.
With an collective “Ugh”, he takes the lid and assumes his position in a tattered computer chair just in front of the boy on the stool.
“You ready?” He asks the boy.
“It’s all about sacrifice, Dad, paint me up!”
With that, the boy takes a deep breath knowing that the first touch of the bubbling paint has a bite to it, but by now, he is a veteran at this and knows that this is the only way the paint will go on smoothly and not clump up.
And you can’t make an impact like what they are planning to make, if you look clumpy.
For the next 10 minutes, like a tattoo artist, he positions the living canvas left and right, up & down, until all you see is the purple and black intended goal. Once the face painting is complete, the lad puts on his purple spikey hair, purple cape and gloves, an old black and white feather boa from a Halloween party K.I.S.S. costume 20 years prior, that is currently rapidly bleeding feathers, but adds to the look. He finishes it with a grey and black striped scarf tied around his waist. After about 20 minutes, he has transformed from normal 4 th grade boy to “Flash: The Ultimate Cheer Brother”!........... Now time to get working on the main attraction. Wearing a black turtleneck under a custom made purple long sleeve t-shirt that reads “Extreme Cheer Dad”, he heads in to the bathroom to utilize the three panel vanity mirror above the sink. With eyeliner pen in hand, he begins the outline. Superstitiously, he always does the right side first, then the left. The challenge is to get it as even as possible, since he has to do this without the aid of his newly prescribed glasses. “Ah,
Read about a day in the life of Matt here: