Archive | February, 2012

Does Cheer Have the Power to Get You Through the Toughest of Times?

25 Feb

In a recent story about sports and inspiration, author, Marley Gibson, was asked if she thought cheerleading had the power to get people through even the toughest of times. Her answer was so inspiring we had to share it:

 

Marley said “The definition of the word cheer means to bring happiness, joy, comfort..” We fully endorse all this and would like to add Inspiration to what being a cheerleader means.

 

Miss Gibson continues to say “Most importantly it brings encouragement. If you’re struggling with anything in life – all it takes is some encouragement and comfort from others to raise your spirits. As cheerleaders, you let people know that no matter what the odds in any situation, you SHOULDN’T GIVE UP!”

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Only a select few can be leaders

23 Feb

“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition. ”

 Gandhi (1917-1984);

Mediocrity – The New Norm?

22 Feb

At a recent coaches meeting, then again at a college recruiting meeting, the concern of mediocrity becoming ramped amongst today’s youth was a hot topic. In the college recruiting meeting were two athletic recruiters, one academic recruiter and one recruiter whose sole focus was to diversify her school. We were all meeting for different reasons, for myself, I was in the meeting to see how to increase the scholarship chances of our gym’s senior cheerleaders and dancers. The recruiters however were there to speak to us coaches and teachers about their struggle to recruit today’s youth because mediocrity has become the norm.

“Students are making it hard for us to diversify our student base,” said one recruiter. He continued to say “Too many student athletes are not pushing themselves to be the best they can be, they seem content to be just ‘one of the guys (girls’). They just stopped trying to stand out in unique ways”. Truth is as an educator and coach I knew exactly what he was saying, I have seen it over and over again, kids dummying down their abilities so they don’t excel past a friend. But since most of the other coaches in the room seemed to be confused by that statement the recruiter made, I asked for an example. He proceed to tell us about this athlete who had been playing soccer for over 12 years. She carried an average 3.5 GPA, stayed out of trouble and made sure to make nice with teachers and classmates. She even did a few stints of public service to beef of the college resume. So what was his issue with her? Well, the reality was, ANY STUDENT trying to get into college was doing exactly what she was doing – playing a sport, good grades and community advocate. There was nothing that made her special. After 15 applications and 5 recruiters, she ended her school year with NO scholarship, no offer to join a college soccer team (which she said was her life’s goal). Meanwhile, her other teammates were awarded scholarships; grants and walk on spots onto the team.  What did her other teammates have that she didn’t, they all had that something “special”. While student A (the person used in this example) was out doing the basic college stuff, her teammates were out perfecting their specialized soccer tricks like The Roulette, taking extra AP classes to beef up the academics, taking ballet classes to increase flexibility and agility. These other teammates understood that although a 3.0+ GPA may sound good to most people, in the world of academic and sports competition, it’s pretty mediocre. Now, student A did get accepted into a few colleges but none of them offered her a spot on a soccer team and that was her goal.

But how does this apply to Cheerleading or Dance? It’s important for team members and parents alike to understand that being part of a team is so much more than showing up to practice each week. The truth is, anyone can show up to practice and pay a competition or uniform fee, if this is all a person does when on a team – most coaches, team members and colleges consider this “mediocrity”. It’s those who practice when they are not in the gym or on the field. Those who stretch mark and work their routines daily to be the best they can be when with the team.  Team members who come to practice each time fully knowing their routines and showing they are progressing, those are the ones whom have broken the cycle of mediocrity. All the recruiters agreed on one thing at this meeting, “mediocrity has become the norm across the board of today’s youth”. Who is to blame? Some blame the parents, some blame the students, blame the teachers or blame them all.

Truth is, anyone who lets you slide through life without expecting you to grow (mentally or physically) is to blame, and yes that includes you.  Everyone has to make a choice, everyday you chose to be ok or the best you can be (at any given thing). There is no substitution for practice, if you don’t practice for a challenging spelling test you will most likely fail, if you don’t practice a routine you will fail. Students are not sent to school or to the gym to fail, so teachers and coaches must enforce learning, dedication and commitment. Sadly, in most schools, most sporting leagues and many other youth programs, the focus is not advancement of the youth, the focus is money. How many paying kids can they get in their doors or on their fields and its time parents and students alike stop accepting this as a way of life. If you have been in gymnastics for 5 years and you still can’t do a solid backhandspring (and you’re a healthy person with no physical restrictions), you need to find a new gym. If you have been cheering for 3 years and don’t have a solid tumbling pass, heel stretch and amazing showmanship, its time to move on. Been with the same tutor for 2 years and still learning at the same level, MOVE ON! Let these teachers and coaches know that mediocrity is NOT acceptable, that you demand more for yourself as an athlete and as a parent you want to see growth. You want to know you are paying for skill training not “play time”.

In the end, the meeting was very informative.  Some coaches are very “Dance Moms” style and have blow out fights with mom’s, dad’s and kids and are faced with parents who end up hating their schools. But these very coaches/teachers say they wouldn’t have it any other way, they see it as a way to “weed out the weak”.  Other’s seemed grateful the discuss took the turn it did because they are struggling with the same issue of kids coming to their programs ill-prepared and not having done their “homework”. The recruiters wanted to make one message very clear to all of us “if you want your students to come to our colleges, you better teach them that medirocrity is 200% unexceptable and will lady your students with no collegescholarship offers”. These recruiters sent a strong message, its up to today’s parent and educator to teach that “medicroity” should not and should have never been a part of the norm. Encourage yourself, your students, your child to push to be the best they can be, go beyond the call of duty and be fully committed to their school and/or team. These students are certain to excel in school, sport and life!

At the end one of the recruiters handed out this speech written by a high schooler:

By O. Douglas, Salutatorian

Apathy is rampant among many young people today. Students are often not willing to work hard to attain success. Mediocrity has become the norm for many of my generation. Many students feel success is owed to them and that it is society’s role to provide it. This false belief has led to complacency.

This apathy can be addressed by schools. If students are given the opportunity to learn in an environment where they are challenged, they will aim higher. Supportive teachers and dedicated administrators help foster a positive environment . My experience in a small learning community has taught me to overcome mediocrity. I have been challenged and supported academically by my teachers. Providing additional help whenever needed, they make themselves readily available to students so that they can be better prepared for college.

As a child of a single parent, I have my mother as a guide . Her sacrifices and values have served as a positive beacon. While I could have easily become a statistic, her example directed me away from negative influences. Others, who have not had the guidance I have had, may not have felt as compelled to succeed . Some young people feel they can do just enough to get by and still be successful. Many don’t see the importance of education, and thus don’t make it a priority.

These issues are the responsibility of the entire community. Teens are constantly bombarded by images of greed and selfishness. More positive role models are needed . There are many positive leaders in the Atlanta community, but they aren’t as obvious to students as the negative figures.

It is incumbent upon all of us to do our part and change the present to better the future.

Tryouts: It’s a Mental Game!

8 Feb

Putting on the Cheerleading/Dance uniform and marching onto your school campus can be the best felling in the world. Being part of the schools spirit leaders is such an amazing feeling and it’s no wonder why THOUSANDS of young ladies find themselves rushing to sign up for team tryouts.  Sadly only a quarter of those thousands of girls will actually get their name put on the “team list”.

So how do you get your name on the “Team List” after a long and nerve racking tryout?

Every year we train youth of all ages to be the best they can be at their Cheerleading or Dance Team tryout’s and for over 15years our Director has had a 100% success rate. Every member she has privately trains always makes their team. For the last few years, she has been working hard to teach all our gym trainers her secret to her success.

One of the key lessons she preaches every single day is “Tryout’s are a mental game”. Yes, it’s a physical job (grades and teacher referrals tend to be a factor too) but after all those things are in line it really comes down to a Mental Game.  Remember just like you, there are plenty of classmates with great grades, wonderful referrals and a pretty good back tuck. So, what makes you stand out?

Standing out in a positive light is a make or break at most cheer and dance auditions. It’s about having that WOW factor. No, the wow factor is not who has the prettiest hair, best teeth or flashiest tryout attire. The WOW factor is your “Mental Game Face”.  Do you scatter to the corner when last year’s team members come into the tryout circle, or do you hope right in the middle of the crowd with a big smile, high kicks and helping hand to those who are struggling? When the most “popular” girl in school is standing next to you, do you hold back your smile and let her shine?

Truth is those “last season” team members get it; they already know it’s a mental game. That’s why they walk in with a high level of confidence, tons of smiles and enough spirit to wrap around the globe at least 10 times. That “popular” girl gets it too, she knows if she walks in the room with a smile, a “I have what it takes” attitude (but be careful too much of this attitude will backfire on you, it’s about finding the balance), she is already sending the message to the coaches and the judges “I have school spirit and I am team ready”.

When you enter the tryout training session, you have to do so with a big smile and a highly positive attitude (even if your arch enemy is standing right next to you). Steer clear of participating in the rumor mill and glaring eyes. Ok, so maybe you’re not catching onto that 8 count as fast as some of the other girls. Don’t get stressed. Relax, stay calm and stay focused. With practice, it will all come together.  The biggest mistake you can make is comparing yourself to others, you are not trying out for them you are trying out for you and only the judges can determine if you’re the right fit for the team.  Don’t lose focus by watching and comparing yourselves to others.

Don’t get worked up in “I have to make this team” mode. You will stress yourself out so much you might even forget the tryout dance or cheer.  Yes, we know you want to make the team, but just like American Idol there are going to be a lot of really good performers and the judges have to choose who is the best fit for the team. Sometimes the best fit isn’t the one with the best back tuck or the most amazing smile. Sometimes it’s the person who proved that they train well during tryouts, sometimes it’s something else. Remember you can do everything right and in the end you don’t make the squad. Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us. Even our Director knows that her 100% success rate will eventually come to a halt. But she has done such as good job of examining every team her students are trying out for. She not only examines the tryout forms, but she also watches the teams perform, talks to the coaches and finds out as much data as she can. Why? Because she understands that even with the perfect tryout cheer you may not make the team, you have to have the whole package (according to the team coach), so she makes sure that she preps her students for the physical and mental requirements of the team tryouts and so far it has really paid off. But for those preparing to try out for dance or cheer, just do these following steps and you will be happy you did:

–          Train now, don’t wait until a week before tryouts to hit the gym. Remember most teams like to compete or at least be able to compete so you need the basics (flexibility and some pretty amazing jumps).  Sign up for a tryout training program

–          Work on those smiles, day and night find a way to keep a smile on your face so that by the time tryouts come around smiling will be like breathing – you won’t even have to think about it

–          Watch team video’s, pay close attention to the skills of those already on the team and work your strong skill sets

–          Make sure you REALLY have all the requirements to even apply to be on the team. Most schools require cheerleaders/dancers to have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, at least 2 or 3 positive teacher referrals, attendance requirements, community service requirements and more. KNOW WHAT THE REQUIREMENTS ARE. You don’t want to go through the process and find out that you’re not even qualified ‘on paper’

Good luck to you all and get your game face on and we hope your find your name on the “team list”!