Monday, October 17, 2011

Breaking Cheer-Stereotypes

So you don't think you're the "Cheerleading Type?"

For people who don't think they want to come out for Cheer- I want you to think, if more people like you (whatever that means) would come out for Cheer, there might not be so many people who aren't like you on Cheer.For those of you who are already cheerleaders, I want you to make sure that you are breaking other people's misconceptions, not contributing to their prejudices. Cheerleading gives kids confidence, poise and a positive attitude. Like a lot of school sports, it helps them develop cooperation, initiative, self-control, self-respect, and lots of other skills.If you've never cheered before, don't let your assumptions about cheerleading keep you from trying out for basketball cheer. If you're already cheering- remember, you are a leader, make sure you act like one.

We don't have our names on our uniforms like some other sports. Which is good, because that way I don't have to remind cheerleaders that we're all about the name on the FRONT of the uniform, not the one on the back. Our JOB is not to show off, it's to ENCOURAGE the fans to ENCOURAGE the players on the field (or court).
If there's nothing else that I want to pound into kids heads, its that you can make life better by making it better for someone else. Call it a philosophy, a psychology, a theology, a pedagogy, or whatever you like- I like it and have been trying to share it for the last 19 years of coaching.

Think I'm naive? Maybe, so try it and find out. I bet that if for one week, you stop worrying about getting what you want or proving that you're right and spend more energy encouraging others and trying to stay positive, no matter how difficult- you're going to enjoy life a lot more. Life still won't be perfect, but it will be just a little easier to trudge through and you'll feel like you made a difference. Try it. I DARE you!
I used to tell my squads at LA Lutheran, "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, people are gonna assume it's a duck." If you don't want people to call you nasty names, don't over do it with the make-up, don't dress too sexy, and be careful how and how much you flirt and who's around when you do it.
Will there still be mean people that call you names? Sure, this is high school after all, but believe it or not, you do have some control over your reputation.

I also used to tell LALHS squads what I still tell BV squads- don't get too close to, and absolutely don't touch any boys when you're in uniform. Trust me, your dads probably agree with me on that one.
Anyone can be a cheerleader. You don't have to have straight A's (although I want you to work toward that), you don't have to fit into somebody else's mold of what a cheerleader should be, and you don't have to be a size "zero." Of course, if you'd rather be a mascot- you REALLY won't have to worry about how you look in a skirt.
If you can keep a beat, shout, and smile- you've got what we need- let us work with you.
I'll admit, after coaching cheer for almost two decades, I derive a lot of my sense of purpose and identity from it- but I also need breaks from it once in a while. I have a family, I have friends, I'm involved in stuff outside of school. 

There are worse things to invest your time and energy in than cheerleading. Drinking, smoking, sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games all day all come to mind. Come to think of if, wasting time here on facebook does too! But my point is, the best cheerleaders aren't crushed if they can't cheer because they don't make it through tryouts, they get injured, or they have to take some time to raise their grades.

Cheerleading is what you do, it's not who you are.

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