"Failures are expected by losers, ignored by winners."
– Joe Gibbs
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
What defines success?
Is it the 2 min 30 sec routine at Nationals? Is it having the highest team GPA? Is it not having any members leave during the season and forming a tight team bond?
On my college team, I define a successful season as one where my girls grew as a team – in the areas of responsibility, leadership, communication, academics, self-discovery and self-confidence.
Success in the classroom is crucial. I remind my team that they are students before athletes. How did they compare to the other athletic teams at the university?
Success on the competition floor brings recognition to the university and a feeling of team accomplishment. As long as the team improved over the previous year's placement, they should feel successful as a competitor.
Success in the community can be measured not by the quantity of community service events in which the team participated, but what was taken away by the team. At the Boys & Girls Club, did a little boy's face light up after a squad member read his favorite book for the 4th time in a row? At the women's shelter, did the homeless woman's barely audible "thank you" hit the heart of a team member? Community service events expose your team members to situations and experiences they may never have seen otherwise – they are a win-win situation for both the team and the organization for which your team is volunteering.
Personal success can be measured by the amount of individual growth experienced by each team member. Did they make better decisions, take charge of a situation, improve athletically, and tolerate team members' differences?
Success within the team can be measured by the amount of fun they had. At the end of the year, I put together a video of still photos from the beginning of the year to the end, including all events, games, projects, team bonding socials, etc… Were the team members smiling and laughing and having a good time in the photos? If so, you can believe their overall season was enjoyable.
This past year, we overcame a team member who failed a random drug test (she took a friend's ADHD medicine to help her "focus" on studying for midterms) 2 unplanned pregnancies, a questionably faked injury one day before Nationals (was she embarrassed that this team wasn't as good as her previous school's team?), a death of a parent, and several other obstacles. But the key word here is overcame. The team grew as a team and as individuals. They worked hard on and off the mat, and were proud of their performances on the court and at competition. New friendships were made and lifetime bods were formed. Yes – I'd say the season was a success.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Cheering in college
Pretty much all colleges and universities have cheerleaders, whether or not the school competes. First and foremost, you have to decide why you want to cheer in college. Do you want to cheer, just to compete? If that is the case, cheering in college might not be the right choice for you. Being a cheerleader on a college team is completely different than cheering on a high school or all star team. In addition to regular practices, you most likely have team conditioning and training practices, as well as appearances and events. The commitment is much higher once you get to cheering at the college level. You have to commit to supporting intercollegiate athletics – that means cheering on your team at all games. College athletes are much more focused on their sport at the college level, and as a cheerleader, you need to make the same commitment as these other student-athletes.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Earlier last year, the NCAA launched the "I chose Division II" campaign. The campaign uses a hexagon for its framework, six "sides" of a DII student athlete — Passion, Balance, Resourcefulness, Service, Learning and Sportsmanship.
At NSU, many student-athletes were recruited by Division I schools, but they ultimately chose DII NSU because they can still play their sport, but can also be a common student.
A significant percentage of high school student athletes would love to cheer at a DI school. Plus, with college-athletic specific networks such as ESPNU, CSTV and the Big Ten Network showing college sports around the clock, our obsession with DI sports is greater than it has ever been.
As a result, DII always has been looked upon as a "back-up."
Some student-athletes choose a DII school because they did not receive any DI offers, but they still want to continue cheering.
And there's nothing wrong with that. It's better to cheer at a lower division than not cheer at all. But here's the thing — for some high school student athletes, DII is not the last resort.
Along with cheering at a Division I university comes high expectations, a huge time commitment, and a lot of pressure from alumni, faculty and fellow students.
No, Division II sports aren't the last option. For a lot of people, it's the first.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
What do college coaches seek in high school cheerleaders?
If a cheerleader is talented, a college coach will find them. If they are good enough, there will be many coaches on all levels who want some of their attention.
But talent only is one element in the equation. An athlete's makeup, character and interpersonal relationships with teammates, parents and coaches speak volumes.
And there is one thing that stands out above all else.
If you're a lazy student, then why would anyone want to take you as a player? There is no reason for you not to work hard and work smart. You have to ask if you're a leader or a follower. There are plenty of followers in the classroom.
There are certain steps each player must take to be qualified to cheer at the college level. They include graduating high school, taking core courses in math, science and English, and earning strong ACT and SAT scores.
Some cheerleaders feel it is important to visit colleges during their Junior year, but don't take them unless you're serious about the school. Don't waste your time, your parents' time and the school's.
Another avenue is for athletes to scope out rosters on the Web and project who may be there to see if there is a spot for them.
A player must find the right fit.
College coaches know that lazy students make for lazy cheerleaders. Off-the-field stuff matters. I'll do my homework. I'll talk to as many people as I can to find out what kind of a person the cheerleader is.
I'll show up to their high school practice. I'll see who was the first out of their car, who was the last in after practice.
Cheering in college is the best for teaching resiliency. It's not going to be easy.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
A lot of cheerleaders, getting ready to end their Freshman or Sophomore year in high school, sometimes believe that they need to wait until they are a senior to start thinking about cheering in college. This is not true!
In fact, I have lists of players that I've been tracking three years out. Recruiting is a never ending task for college coaches, and we know that we need to begin scouting young cheerleaders now before our competition begins recruiting that cheerleader.
Scouting and tracking the progress of a cheerleader during the cheerleader's first few seasons in high school gives me a better opportunity to evaluate that cheerleader's growth, both athletically and academically.
This early contact with a college coach gives the HS cheerleader an opportunity to really get to know a coach over a long period of time, as well as having the opportunity to carefully consider all of the positives and negatives about the school, the program and other decision-making factors.
Freshman and sophomore high school cheerleaders who are interested in college cheerleading should:
• Make contact with as many coaches as possible. Since you might not be a varsity cheerleader yet, most college coaches won't even know you exist. That isn't to say that they would not be interested in you early in your high school career, but they need to find out why they need to keep their eye out for you.
• Be open to different opportunities. College cheerleading scholarships are very competitive, and you need to be open to every opportunity that presents itself no matter how big or how small the school is.
• Focus on academics, as well as athletics. Good grades matter, and now is the time to set a good foundation for the next few years in high school. The time to make sure you are on track to successfully complete all of the NCAA academic requirements that are needed if you want to play college athletics is at the beginning of your high school career, not at the end. Athletically, make sure you master the fundamentals. Coaches will want to see good mechanics and form.
• Be persistent. If you want a college coach to take you seriously, they need to know that you are interested in playing college athletics at their university. I look forward to receiving emails updating me on athletic and academic progress of high school recruits.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
One of the reasons I was excited to embark on a new journey of coaching college as opposed to coaching at the HS level was that I no longer had to deal with parents – or so I thought.
As much as I encourage independence, parents still hover and college students still depend on their parents to get them out of a situation. I find that it's mostly the local girls, who are still living at home, whose parents do not view them as adults.
As a coach, we make decisions based on what is best for the team. Parents make decisions based on what they feel is best for their child. As a parent myself, I understand that sometimes a parent's love overrules logic or reason.
Effective communication is what will help bridge this gap between coaches and parents.
At the first team meeting – immediately after tryouts, I meet with the team and go over the rules and expectations, having each of them sign a copy, and keep a copy for themselves.
Keeping your parents and athletes informed from the very beginning helps with cooperation for the year. I provide the girls with access to the team's website, and soon after tryouts, provide them with a contact list for all coaches and everyone on the team. They know from the beginning, they can call or text me, email me, facebook me, etc… Due to technology, there is no excuse. I am always available (is that good or bad??)
Our team has an alumni committee, who designs and sends out a newsletter to alumni letting them know of the team's accomplishments and events. This year, we are also sending it to the parents, to keep them updated on the team.
It is always nice to have a couple of local parents willing to step up and help out with events such as dinner parties (so they have an opportunity to leave campus, and not have it at your house!) and any fundraising.
Keep the lines of communications open and the less likely it is that problems will arise. Also, make sure to keep the calendar on the team website updated and accurate. (I use yahoo groups). Listening skills are extremely important for a college cheerleading coach. Most of the time, all the parents or your athletes are looking for is a good listener.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Subject: Intrested in Becoming a Cheerleader
hi how are you my name is xxxxxxxx and I'm interested in becoming a (name of school) cheerleader. Funny thing is I've never cheered nor am i flexible. however i think i am a fast learner. i was wonder if in order to try-out would have to know how to do stunts or do you guys train and coach us on how to do so? please get back to me...thank you and have a nice day.
Subject: RE: Intrested in Becoming a Cheerleader
Hi - Thank you for your interest; however at the collegiate level, you would need to be able to tumble, stunt, jump, dance and cheer. These girls usually have at least 5-10 years of experience. I do not want to discourage you, but because you asked, I will tell you that experience is a requirement. Thank you and I wish you all the best! Please come to the (My school's name inserted here) games and be a Sharks fan (the finatics)!!!
Subject: RE:RE: Intrested in Becoming a Cheerleader
I understand what you are say but I'm not sure if I know how to stumble because I've never done it before. I know how to dance and cheer but for the stumbling and stunts I've never do but I'm willing to learn.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
For this year's Cheerleading banquet, I've been searching the web for some inexpensive gifts to give to my team. I found some cute ideas. Check them out! I got a 5-pack of 4x6 frames at joanne fabrics, inserted their competition group photo on the front and wrote an end-of-the-year-poem on the back. Easy to do, and very inexpensive! For girls to whom I presented awards, I found these adorable cheerleader wind chimes on the website starkeydesigns.com. Also, check out cheerfulgirl.com for some more great ideas. They had really cute keychains that I thought would be perfect for parents who went above and beyond to help out throughout the year.
Get yourself organized and have a plan! Make sure you have each candidate complete registration forms and a health history form as well as a waiver of liability. If you feel a Dr's note is required for clearance to tryout, request it. I make sure all forms are in and complete one week ahead of tryouts.
Also, when tryouts are over, provide feedback to each candidate - start with their weaknesses and inform them on where they can improve. I have found that because of the relaxed and professional way I conducted tryouts, I have girls who come back the following year to re-tryout! By providing feedback to these girls/guys, you assist them in developing skills that are lacking and fine tune those they have mastered.
So important to developing a strong cheerleading program is getting feedback from your team at the end of the year. I take the time to meet with each team member for one hour. During that time, they bring with them a feedback form I provided to them containing questions about the program and events we did as a team that year. I also ask them to evaluate such things as their equipment (I discover a lot each year about practice T shirts - one group likes short, tight shirts, while another year, big and baggy is in!), their personal performance, their choreography, their coaches, conditioning, practices, and more. During that time, I also evaluate them and provide feedback on how I believe that individual performed and offer suggestions on improvement if she plans on returning the following year. I always learn a ton, so I keep three pads handy during each individual meeting: one for things to institute for the following year, one for things that I need to bring to the attention of my AD, and things to think about.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Tryouts are approaching! During the process of putting together the best possible team, coaches need to keep safety in mind when forming their new team. Stunting has become the forefront of cheerleading at games and competitions. Because of this, coaches have to focus on training and safety. If your team is going to stunt, safety education is of the utmost importance!
One of the most important elements of being a safe team and preventing injuries is having a safe practice area. We spent our first year practicing at night in the dark on a patch of grass and dirt! We spent that summer fundraising for mats. Mats are an essential element of cheerleading. There are several places to purchase cheer mats. We bought ours at tiffinmats.com and they were delivered very quickly!
When your team stunts, the focus should be on the stunt and no talking should occur until the stunt is back down on the ground. Designate a member of the stunt group (usually the backspot) to verbalize the counts of the stunt. This way, you ensure additional safety with all attention on that stunt.
Coaches need to become safety certified. There are several clinics and conferences that coaches can attend where hands-on safety techniques are taught.
Coaches need to know the rules of the sport at their level. For example, I just found out that in our conference, the cheerleaders are not allowed on the court during the last 3 minutes of a basketball game. Who knew? Now, I know! Check your rules website frequently for rules updates.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Contact the college coach as soon as you think you might be interested in attending school there! Don't wait! I keep a list of interested applicants throughout the year and send them information on good "insider" type stuff as I receive it. For example, I received an email from the University that the application fee will be waived at our next Open House. I was able to pass along this information to my interested HS cheerleaders! I also pass along information on scholarships and grants as I receive it, as well as invite them to attend games, practices, competitions as well as other campus events.
Clean up your Facebook account!!!! YES! College coaches check your MySpace and Facebook accounts. There have been several recruits who I chose to remove from my "list" after seeing what is posted on their accounts. I tell my recruits, "Don't put anything on there that your grandmother wouldn't be proud of." C'mon - be real. We all know you drink and like to party. Great. But grow up! No one cares! It doesn't impress anyone, especially a college coach! So clean them up - oh yeah - and we can get around any "privacy" blocks. Trust me, we find it all out... It's not worth you losing your opportunity to cheer in college - right?
Contact the coach to set up a visit. A visit usually includes touring the practice facilities, locker rooms, campus, etc... You want to make sure these facilities are clean and what you are looking for. You will be spending a whole lot of time in them, so make sure it is a good fit. Also, I usually arrange a time where the recruit can meet the team, whether it be at a team dinner, or just a trip to the beach with the girls. This way, you can kind of "feel out the team", and also ask the girls questions about the coaching staff, and gather some good information about what it will be like to cheer in college.
I will add more tips. Bye for now! Cheers!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
January 27, 2008
I spent the day recruiting for next year. I am officially in recruiting mode right now. I got a list of local competition results and emailed each of the coaches congratulating them on their performance in the competition, then attaching information on our program. Once Ihear back from them, I plan on setting up a time to go out to those schools to talk with their teams and get them pumped up for cheering at college - especially at MY college!
Friday, January 25, 2008
I got a classic email today! I got an email from a mother who was marketing her daughter to colleges for cheerleading scholarships.
It said, "My daughter is a outstanding in cheerleading, and would like a full scholarship to cheer at your school. She has cheered & danced since she was a baby. She has a double full twist & is an olympic tumbler & flyer. For financial reason I think she knows we can't afford 30 or 40 thousand a year to send her to school. Thank You"
What, exactly, is an olympic flyer?
It was the first time in five years at this college that I walked into practice after not making it to the Finals, where the team was happy - not just happy - excited to come back next year! Usually I spend 15 minutes telling them how great they did for being such a small school, blah, blah... but this time - no! Didn't need to! They wanted to start next year's routine tonight! Love them!
January 19, 2008
We got to the venue just in time to take photos, hit the warm up mat and then immediately afterwards, the performance floor. It was much better this way, because they had not time to think about anything or even become nervous. They had a great warm-up, which worried me, because a sloppy warm up equals a great performance. They came out and were fantastic! The routine was flowing smoothly - yay! The first half was a success! Now for the cheer...great so far - tumbling looks clean, stunts going up great....BAMM!! What does that say...."N U S" FLIP "GO BLUE BIG" AGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHO PUT THE SIGNS DOWN BACKWARDS??!!!!
Oh well, too late now. The crowd chuckled; I cringed. Another year coming in 2nd to last.
Backstage, their spirits were great and they were pleased with their performance. We watched the rest of our division compete, and listened as the finalists names were read. Although we did not make it to Finals, rather than being quitters and giving up, the spirit and determination was stronger than ever!
Fri, January 18, 2008
We set out on our trek up to Orlando. The caravan consisted of two vans and two cars loaded with excited cheerleaders, coaches and their families, too. At the last minute, we decided to bring our portable Tiffin mat, just to prevent any further injuries, in case we didn't have an "acceptable" and safe practice surface on which to practice. It was hysterical trying to fit this mat into a van - Basically, we had to sit on it and jump up and down to jam it in there!
We arrived to a freezing cold Disney World! The temperature dropped 30 degrees since we left this morning! Ow! We warmed up and practiced our stunts and ran thee routine through a couple of times. The Dr. called and did not clear the Captain to perform, so pregnant girl was front and center for the dance, looking fantastic, and so happy to participate. The Tiffin portable mat certainly came in handy - because the grass and concrete were wet and cold and hard. Glad we took the time to jam it in the van!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Tonight was our "Friends & Family performance," where we perform our Nationals routine in front of the team's family members, boyfriends, friends, etc., as well as anyone from the school who would like to come and see - usually it is anyone who cannot make it to Orlando! They looked terrific and their parents were so impressed and proud of all they have accomplished. The boyfriends still don't get it - can't understand how you can practice for 4 months for a 2 min 30 sec routine. We rolled out all our mats for the performance and even brought in a portable BOSE system, which sounded awesome! We received a lot of positive feedback and the girls from last year's team pumped them up by telling them that they were the best ever cheerleading team to come out of this college!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Last practice before we leave for College Nationals. The team did great, except for my captain was out. Yes - out of the entire routine! She tore - or sprained - or pulled - her lateral something-or-other behind her knee and is going tomorrow night for an MRI. The Dr. will call me Friday when we are in Orlando to give me the results. Luckily, we were able to substitute, fill in, revise, edit, etc... Because, you know...that's what I do! That's who I am! I am... revision-girl! I can revise any routine at any time!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Jan 13, 2008
I woke up to the most bizarre email, still stewing about the girls being late and offering no apology, only a feeble excuse. One girl apologized to me about how she left the men's game (I didn't even notice, to be honest). She just left. Walked out in the middle of the game. I called my asst. coach and asked if the team said anything after the game about it, and she too admitted that she hadn't noticed. She also wrote about how she was having problems. In between family stuff (today was softball ratings and my daughter was upset that I hadn't bought her a helmet or bat!) and homework assignments and trying to talk with my brother who drove 3 hours yesterday to stay a night and then drive back, I calmed myself down. Initially, I thought, "Nope! We are NOT going! They do not deserve to got to Nationals - not with their attitudes - nope. No way, Not happening." Then I took a nap. Life was better and clearer when I awoke. I did some homework and went to practice. The routine is a hot mess, but it goes. After practice, I pulled aside the girl who left the game and she spilled her problems. Talk about issues! So I mandated her for a counseling session at the student counseling center. I thin it will help her a lot. She is such a talented cheerleader and we all feed off her positiveness. I could tell there was something up from the way she was berating her flyer for not hitting the scale-arabesque flip down. So that went well. Then I had a talk with the 5 knuckleheads who were late to the game. I apologized for yelling and they apologized for being late (no, wait..did they?) We all decided that we disrespect the women's games and it will stop immediately. They are going to decorate the womens team's locker room and show some spirit toward them. I can live with that. Life goes on and we have exactly 2 practices left before Nationals. Whew! Putting out fires each day is tough!
Jan 12, 2008
Tonight we had to cheer 2 games. The "B" team cheered the women's game, but 5 showed up 10 minutes after the game had started!! I lost it - I was so incredibly angry at them. I actually yelled at them in the locker room. I never yell, so you know I was angry. It wasn't like they were running in, diving to get on the court before the game began; rather, they were just sauntering in, finishing their dinner, giggling and chatting as if they had time to kill. Meanwhile, out on the court, the women's team had three girls shaking their poms to form a sorry-looking tunnel for them to run through. I was mortified and wanted to crawl under my seat. The women's coach shot me a look, and put up her arms in a questioning pose, asking, "where is the team??" I wanted to die - hence the lashing I gave them. I think they were more shocked than I was! I have never yelled before! Ouch! The night got worse from there on. The stands were packed for the men's game. What an amazing crowd! The girls were pumped to show off their routine stunts to their fellow students, friends and family. Right before the men were being introduced, the fire alarm sounded! We stood outside for about 40 minutes. Luckily, my brother was here, who took my kids, so I could monitor the team. The mood turned gloomy once everyone realized how late the game would run, spoiling their plans for the evening. I finally left after I produced the halftime show, which included potato sack races, and got my kids home and in bed at 10pm! OW! They are usually asleep by 8!
Jan 11, 2008
Somehow the routine has persevered. The flyer gave us great news today that she was cleared by the Dr, and will still be able to fly certain stunts. She will be able to do her back tuck basket toss as well as the scale arabesque-flip down, but we taught a base how to fly! The new base-turned-flyer will be doing the eggroll up to liberty stunt, and is also doing the 2-2-1. She is doing a fantastic job! The team spirit is great and the energy is positive!
Jan 7, 2008
OK – so after a night of no rest, I decided to call up a girl who cheered for me for awhile who is now back at the school getting her graduate degree. Still a student – right? So… she said she has to ask her mom.. C-mon! You're 23 years old! Is it really crucial to get your mother's permission to be thrown 30 feet in the air, upside down and backwards?
Jan 6, 2008
Ok – this is now not the year. Maybe next year. My star flyer – the only one who can gracefully execute a back tuck basket is now hobbling around on crutches – a sprained ankle. Possibly a fracture. We won't know until tomorrow. A friggin ankle – and of course, it is her flying leg – great. No – not great. Horrible. 2 weeks before Nationals. This is a story for sure – because it seems to happen every single year to every single coach out there – am I right? AGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jan 5, 2008
OK – So I've come to the conclusion that this is the year that we will final make it to Finals. It may have taken 4 trips to College Nationals to do it, but I've decided that 2008 is the magical year for us. Despite all the many crazy goings-on over the course of this past year, this is the first time I feel confident that this team can pull it off. They have the talent, skill and the drive, which is much more than teams from the past had. Yup… this is the year…