Sunday, January 31, 2010

This week's Western Valley Conference play

Monday (Feb 1) we will be hosting Conference Games vs COU.
Game 2 - V Girls @ 6:00 PM
Game 3 - V Boys

Tue 2/2/2010 Western Valley Conference B Varsity 6:00 PM

Thu 2/4/2010 Charter Oak - Ute High School G JV/Varsity Dunlap 6:00 PM (show up for at least the varsity game, Mr. Straight feels strongly that we cheer at all home games- having said that, I won't be at this game because my wife and I are taking our Daughter Grace to Iowa City for medical tests.)

Fri 2/5/2010 Western Valley Conference B JV/Varsity 6:00 PM

Sat 2/6/2010 Western Valley Conference B Varsity 6:00

But then, there'sno game until Feb 12!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A VERY hectic week ahead

Cammey sent me a text and Tiffany asked here on facebook, so here's what you need to know-

You might've thought that we'd have a pile of make-up games, but this is the start of Western Valley Conference Tournaments. Girls this week and boys next week. Why our conference insists on having it's own tourneys when we'll still have District playoff tournaments at the end of the season, I have no idea, but they do.

Mon     1/25/2010     Charier Oak - Ute High School     B JV/Varsity     Dunlap     6:00 PM- (the girls have conference game in Manning this same night, Mr. Straight believes we should be at all home games) Sorry if you don't like it- but we will cheer at both the JV and Varsity games, so please be there b 5:30 or at least 5:45

Tue     1/26/2010     Western Valley Conference     G Varsity           6:00 PM @ Dunlap (home???- this is if I understood the posting correctly)

If I'm not mistaken, these next two are contingent on our winning- that means they may or may not have them, so please be ready:

Thu     1/28/2010     Western Valley Conference     G JV/Varsity           6:00 PM @ Westside (see me for bus time)

Fri 1/29 the JV/Var Boys have a game in Correctionville, BUT, since it's one gender only but it's NOT a home game- I am going to let you off the hook for it because if the girls win, this will be a monster week and the same will be true if the boys win in their tourneys next week. You deserve at least one day off.

Sat     1/30/2010     Western Valley Conference     G Varsity           6:00 PM

Mon     2/1/2010     Western Valley Conference     B JV/Varsity           6:00 PM and guess what? Boys will have Conference turneys Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, blah blah blah, assuming they win and keep laying.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Pyramid of Success 15; Competitive Greatness

“'When the going gets tough, the tough get going.' Be at your best when your best is needed. (competitive greatness is a) Real love of a hard battle." ~John Wooden

  • Get your game on.
  • Put your game face on.
  • Keep your head in the game.
  • And of course what cheerleader doesn't know "Bring it on?"
All of these cliches mean the same thing; keep your edge.

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

All of these mottos mean that the athlete relishes the opportunity to bring all their skill, talent, experience and character to bare on whatever problem or challenge they face.

Coach Wooden says "a hard struggle is to be welcomed, never feared. In fact, when you define success this way, the only thing to fear is your unwillingness to make the full 100% effort to prepare and perform at the highest level of your ability."

Over 17 years of bus rides, I've over heard a lot of conversations between basketball coaches. They talk a lot about who's giving 100%, 90%, 60%, and 110% both in practices and in games.

Competitive greatness isn't about winning competitions (especially in cheer, where yeah, there are such a thing as cheerleading competitions, but the whole purpose is really to help the football or basketball players reach their competitive greatness). Competitive greatness isn't about defeating an opponent or a rival. You can be competitive in an insecure, jealous, selfish, ambitious way like that, but true competitive greatness isn't about vanquishing enemies- it's about overcoming obstacles, solving problems, meeting challenges, and accomplishing personal goals.

The love of a hard battle isn't about destroying enemies or getting attention or power- it's about sojourning on even when you're faced with the most difficult trails. It's about not being lazy, apathetic, or lethargic but industrious, intentional, confident, determined and to bring us full-circle- it means being enthusiastic.

The point, that sharp top (competitive EDGE), the summit of the pyramid isn't possible without the force of the bricks below it, perhaps most importantly the corner stones of industriousness and enthusiasm- but not as high, not as powerful, and not nearly as meaningful or as successful without friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and team-spirit.

You can jump over a hurdle, avoid it by going around, or plow right through it. Sometimes competitive greatness means having to get a little dirty, it means having to work up a sweat. It means not giving up, even if you do lose. It means moving on and trying again after you have failed.

Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

That's why I always want you to keep trying to rev up the crowd no matter how unresponsive they are for your time out and quarter break cheers. And that's a lesson that will take you far in life. Another old saying says that if you aim for the moon, even if you miss, you'll end up in the stars.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pyramid of Success 14; Confidence

" Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

"Courage is being scared to death- but saddling up anyway."
~John Wayne

"You must have confidence," writes Coach John Wooden, "You must believe in yourself if you expect others to believe in you. However, you can't have poise and confidence unless you've prepared correctly. (remember that failing to prepare is preparing to fail.) Every block is built on the others. When all are in place, poise and confidence result. You don't force them to happen. They happen naturally from proper preparation. "

Webster's Dictionary explains that it is "a state of mind or a manner marked by easy coolness and freedom from uncertainty, diffidence, or embarrassment... faith in oneself and one's powers without any suggestion of conceit or arrogance confidence that comes from long experience> ease or coolness under stress that reflects perfect self-control and command of one's powers... a manifest self-possession in trying or challenging situations."

Some kids bring confidence to cheerleading. Generally cheerleading gives kids confidence.
Flying, basing and spotting in stunts. Leading chants; shouting, jumping and kicking in front of hundreds of people. Leading pep-rallies... practice, practice, practice... being LOUD and PROUD!

Heck, just having to perform in front of the whole student body or half the town gives you a certain amount of confidence- once you get over whatever stage fright you had, there won't be many times you'll be afraid to be inn front of people anymore!

I wish we still had 10-20 people trying out for cheer- not because the competition means you get a higher caliber of cheerleader- you guys are great- but because having to go through the tryout practice is a real teat or confidence. Over the last 17 years I've known a couple of girls who gave phenomenal tryouts, you'd think they were college cheerleaders, unfortunately they became lazy and sloppy in practice and at games. These girls were "over confident." True confidence is built on the other 13 bricks and includes not just poise, but work, conditioning, alertness, loyalty, Enthusiasm, cooperation, etc.

Then there were a few girls who I absolutely knew had outstanding skills, knowledge, and work-ethic- but unfortunately for them, they completely freaked out when it was time for tryouts. A couple of times girls wound up in tears. It was too bad because I knew that they were brimming with potential. At least once they decided they couldn't stand being in front of crowds, at least once there wasn't anything I could do- there were too many other candidates that performed better, and I know a couple of times it worked out in the end. Even the girls who don't make the squad have said that just having to go through the tryout process helped build their confidence.

And as Coach Wooden explained, working on industriusness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, enthusiasm, self-control, alertness, initiative, intentness, conditioning, skill, team-spirit, and poise- these are going to give you REAL confidence.

My hope is that through cheerleading, you will build all 15 of these bricks into your character and your thinking. If you do, they may not make you a billionaire or the first woman President, but I guarantee that they will bring you success- that is, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you did your best. And THAT could make cheer one of the most important things you do in high school. Even if this is the last season you cheer and you don't come out again (and I hope you all will, whether it's during football or basketball or both), but even if you don't- it will be worth it if you gain at least some confidence from it. That will probably happen even if you think this Pyramid business of Coach Wooden is a bunch of bunk.

I've known tons of girls who agree that it made a difference in their lives. Some who were timid, shy and unassuming before cheer and confident and comfortable both with themselves and with others after. But remember, if your confidence is not merely building up an immunity to stage-fright, but if it's backed up by the other 13 bricks in the Pyramid of Success- you'll be ready for just about anything life throws at you.

Monday Night v. SoCal

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Pyramid of Success 13; Poise

"The key to winning is poise under stress."
~Paul Brown

You've heard of old saying like, "she makes it look so easy," the reason some people make things LOOK easy, is not because they are easy, but because those people have poise.

1 : a stably balanced state : EQUILIBRIUM poise between widely divergent impulses --
2 a : easy self-possessed assurance of manner : gracious tact in coping or handling; also : the pleasantly tranquil interaction between persons of poise poise of the meeting
b : a particular way of carrying oneself : BEARING, CARRIAGE
synonym see TACT

Fashion magazines will tell you that runway models need to be poised, so you might think that poise is all an act, but really it's about being comfortable, unflappable even. It's about being stable.

Coach Wooden says that his definition of poise is simply being yourself. Not acting. Not pretending to be something you're not, you are who you are and you're comfortable with that. You'll function at your own level of competence. Granted, as a cheerleader you may sometimes have to pretend to be happy and you have to work at being positive- but if you have enthusiasm (love/spirit) then you'll be able to smile and act excited and still be genuine even when life is hard or you're having a bad day.

Poise means that your goal is not to satisfy anyone else's expectations but your own. You give your total effort to becoming the best you are capable of being.

Here's a famous poem about poise:

By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

(or may I rephrase, you'll be a woman my cheerleader!
or how about, you'll be a leader, not just a cheerleader)

Pyramid of Success 12; TEAM Spirit

"Individual commitment to a group effort-
that is what makes a team work,
a company work,
a society work,
a civilization work."
~Vince Lombardi, legendary NFL coach

"If anything goes bad, I did it.
If anything goes semi-good, then WE did it.
If anything goes really good, then YOU did it."
~Paul "Bear" Bryant, NCAA Football coach

"Team Spirit means you are willing to sacrifice personal considerations for the welfare of all.
That defines a team player."
~John Wooden

It's not about me. It's not about you. It's about the squad, the program, the team & fans we're cheering for, the school, the town, the community. You and I are a part of something bigger than either of us alone. We are BULLDOGS.

You've heard the old cliche', "there's no 'I' in TEAM."
It's not about me. It can never be about you.
It's all about US.

Be a team player and you'll become a leader.

What's it gonna be? 7 individuals who all want their own way? Two or three factions that each coalesce behind different individuals who each want to be in charge? Or ONE unit, one group, one team, one family, one squad with the same purpose- to get the crowds going and make games more fun- for EVERYBODY?

As you've read before, about other bricks in the Pyramid of Success, it might take sacrifice, selflessness, maturity, patience, compromise- but those are all things that genuine and successful leaders do. Be a leader by being a TEAM player.

Pyramid of Success 11; Skills

"A winner is somebody who recognizes his God-given talents,
works his tail off to develop them into skills,
and uses them to accomplish his goals."
~Larry Bird, Boston Celtics

Skill is the knowledge of and the ability to PROPERLY and quickly execute the fundamentals. It means being prepared and covering every single detail. For a cheerleader it means being accurate and sharp. It means being able to keep tempo and stay in sync. It means controlling the different aspects of your voice (pitch, inflection, volume & expression) etc. etc.

Webster's defines it this way-

2 a : the ability to use one's knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance b : dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks
3 : a learned power of doing something competently : a developed aptitude or ability skills>
synonym see ART

And what does it take to develop skills? Work. Practice, practice, practice...

"Skill to do comes of doing"
~ Emerson

"We are what we repeatedly do"
~ Aristotle

#1 read & use your notebook
#2 plan on camp this summer

Pyramid of Success 10; Conditioning

"Some believed my players were simply in better physical condition than the competition. They may have been, but they also had tremendous mental and emotional conditioning. You must identify your conditioning requirements and then attain them. Without proper conditioning in all areas, you will fall short of your potential. It is impossible to attain and maintain desirable physical condition without first achieving mental and moral condition."
~ John Wooden

Rest, diet, exercise must be considered. Moderation must be practiced. Sure, that's important. It's important to run, do crunches and push-ups, run eight-count drills, and give 100% every practice and 110% every game.

But it's also important to be balanced and well-rounded and self-disciplined. I think Coach Wooden would agree, that means conditioning your whole person, mind, body and spirit.

You must PRACTICE self-control, alertness, risk-taking, goal-setting, cooperating, being loyal, being a friend, working and being enthusiastic. It takes work and it takes practice.

If you haven't set any New Year's resolutions yet, I challenge you to resolve to exercise your mind, body and spirit.

1) Read something at least three times a week- no? okay, how about sudoku or crossword puzzle 3x a week?

2) Walk/Run/or Exercise at least 20 minutes at least three times a week

3) pray/meditate/worship/or serve at least three times a week

Check out an interactive version of the pyramid at Coach Wooden's official website:

Pyramid of Success 9; GOALS, "Intentedness"

Itentedness means keeping your eye on the prize and raising the bar. It means staying motivated by staying focused. We should always set realistic goals, concentrate on achieving them and resisting all temptations to give up and stay determined and persistent.

I told Varsity once we got the step-up into a half-extension "prep," and the cradle-catch that NEXT we need to work on getting it up with an elevator and get it all the way up into a full-extension. NOW that we have our chants and sidelines down, we should develop some floor-cheers and we should borrow, make-up, and re-choreograph new chants.

Now that JrHi cheer has most of the chants down, we deed to add conditioning time and begin learning the fundamentals of stunting.

Can we do these things? Like "Bob the Builder" would say, "Yes we CAN!"

Author & Coach Brian Brio says that there are 2 kinds of questions that hurt and 2 kinds that help:

When you catch your self asking these, STOP-
Hopelessness-inducing questions- "WILL this work?
Hopelessness-assured questions- "Will this EVER work?"

Try asking THESE instead-
Possibility-inducing questions- "HOW will we make this work?"
and Exciting Possibility-inducing questions- "How will I contribute so that we MAKE this work for the squad and our school?"

I really want to recommend 'Beyond Success' and the updated 'Beyond Success; 15 secrets of a winning life' both by Brian D. Brio.

He's a former high school swim coach and motivational speaker & writer. He uses Coach Wooden's 15 pyramid blocks better than I have and it's a pretty easy/quick read, even for teenagers. Think of it as along the lines of Chicken Soup for the Soul only with the success pyramid.

I have a copy on my shelf as a DEAR time choice if you'd ever like to borrow it.

What kinds of goals do you have for the New Year? Better grades? A fitness program? No more boys? Getting along better with your parents or siblings?

What kind of goals should we have as a squad? Get along better? Best hospitality to visiting squads? More stunting? LOUDER? More squad members starting chants (initiative)?

You may have heard this one before, but I'll share it again anyway- just in time for New Year's resolutions (mine is to make sure I walk at least 3X a week). Here it is, make sure your goals are SAM; Specific, Achievable, and Measurable.

If I were to just say "to be skinnny" than might not be achievable or measurable. If I say "to loose 100 pounds, that may be measurable, but not so achievable. If I say "I want to walk at least 20 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week in order to lose at least 10 pounds so that I lower my triglycerides, improving both my blood pressure and blood sugar." Now THAT's Specific (maybe too specific) Achievable, and Measurable.

One year in LA, I had a cheerleader named Xela. Her goal was to improve her jumps. So she not only practiced at home on her own time, but she bought a set of ankle weights to wear when she did. Withing just a week she was jumping higher, sharper and more frequently than ever before.

Besides making your goals SAM, you shouldn't make too many, AND perhaps most importantly, you need to keep reminding yourself of your goal. Keeping it in mind helps you keep your eye on the prize, to stay focused. That's one of the reasons for things like mottos and mission statements, and mnemonic devices like "loud and?... PROUD!"

Here's two great examples to try to memorize:

"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
~John Wooden

"Positive, Committed Leaders stirring-up spirit, building excellence & character"

“For an athlete to function properly, he must be intent. There has to be a definite purpose and goal if you are to progress. If you are not intent about what you are doing, you aren't able to resist the temptation to do something else that might be more fun at the moment." ~John Wooden

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things." ~Albert Einstein

Pyramid of Success 8; Initiative

"With courage and initiative, leaders change things."
~Rev. Jesse Jackson

Every cheerleader needs to work on the ability to make decisions on their own and act on them. Never be afraid of failure, but learn from it. No matter what, there are going to be times when you're gonna make mistakes or when something you try isn't going to work the way you hoped. No one is perfect. If you let fear paralyze you, you'll never achieve anything.

I've never had captains because I don't want popularity contests, and I don't want political battles.

EVERY cheerleader is a leader. ANY cheerleader can begin any chant and the rest of the squad should jump on board. Besides just how they perform at a game, initiative means that cheerleaders bring their ideas and contributions to practices. It means they become the "movers and the shakers" at school because they start projects and programs, through student council or other clubs, or just sparking trends, beginning or maintaining traditions and setting an example.

Again, if you think I'm writing this because of our squad's specific dramas, you should know that I wrote it back in 2005- see for yourself at

The pyramid's bricks apply to any team, any sport, any year, middle school, high school, or college. Initiative is part of leadership. It comes easier to some than to others, but my expectation is that each and all of you will begin taking initiative. The more you do it, the more natural it will become. But for some to even be able to take initiative, it will take the help and support of everybody else. When someone starts a cheer, follow along- don't complain that you don't remember it, or call it dumb, just support them- even if you have to fake it.

7 captains, not one or even two. Consider yourselves a pretty elite force, no non-commissioned officers, no enlisted men, just all captains. But, that means that some of you need to step up and some of you may need to back off just a little once in a while.

Pyramid of Success 7; Alertness

" Alertness and courage are life's shield."
~Phillipino Proverb

"As you strive to reach your personal best,
alertness will make the task much easier.
Be observing constantly,
quick to spot a weakness and correct it or use it,
as the case may warrant."
~Coach John Wooden

This means constantly observing what's going on around you. It means keeping an open mind. It means always being eager to learn and improve. It means to "look alive," and "stay-awake."

Obviously this is important during a game so that you don't look ridiculous. You have to know what's going on in the game in order to call appropriate chants, stop chants when it's the right time to stop, key-into what gets the fans to respond, the needs of your squad mates, etc. These are skills that get built with experience.

Obviously it's important while stunting to stay focused, to keep your eye on the flier and make sure that she never hits the ground.

But perhaps most importantly, it's important when it comes to self-awareness. Were you AWARE that your grades were slipping? Were you AWARE that adults were watching when you were smooching your beau? Were you AWARE that preschoolers were around when you were kussing?

Pyramid of Success 6; Self Control

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquuers his enemies;
for the hardest victory is the victory over self."

"While we may not be able to control all that happens to us,
we CAN control what happens inside us.
~Benjamin Franklin

"He who conquers his anger has conquered an enemy."
~German Proverb

How can you have any kind of work ethic, or any cooperation without self control? Besides that, without self-control, you cannot remain loyal and you're liable to lose friends. Having self control, means being responsible and it's part of maturity. I tell students that to be responsible is being response-able, that means being able to control your RESPONSE to anything that happens and anything that anyone else says or does.

Pyramid of Success 5; Loyalty

"Be loyal to people in their absence. Then watch how others begin having more faith and confidence in you, because they know you won't be talking about them behind their backs."
~Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Effective People
( I recommend 7 Habits of Effective Teens)

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
~Vince Lombardi

Coach Wooden expects members of a team to be loyal to themselves, but all so to everyone depending on you in order to keep your self respect. When you're a member of a squad, you can't flake out or walk off. Your teammates need you at games and at practices. You can't let them down.

So showing up, that's part of loyalty. Seeing things through. Being there for others. That's commitment and that's reliability. Seems to me that if that's loyalty, than loyalty must be made of things like a work ethic, enthusiasm, deliberate friendship, and cooperation. Funny how these bricks all relate to each other and build on one another.

I suppose the more conventional way of thinking of loyalty works too, even if it runs the risk of being more selfish and divisive than the self-sacrificing team building loyalty. Usually we tend to think of loyalty being something we have for one team but not another.

How can I support the D'Backs AND like the Dodgers. Well, they ARE both in the same division. I may be sad when Arizona loses, but I'd still prefer a team from the same division to win than for the Yankees to. Because both LA and AZ are part of something bigger, the NL West. Maybe you're more loyal to one sibling than another. You may love them both, but it's only natural to be closer to some people than others. But, you're also part of something bigger. When push comes to shove, blood is thicker than water. You may be closer to brother A than to sister B, but when someone outside your family knocks sister B, you and brother A are both likely to defend her, right?

When someone's loyal to you, you know they've got your back. Maybe you have a friend or two on squad whom you're closer to than the rest of the squad. That's fine and totally natural, especially if you were friends before cheer. But now you're part of something bigger. Now you've seen what it takes from the inside, so hopefully you'll support cheerleaders as cheerleaders, even if you're not crazy about them as individuals.

I know it's asking the impossible, but what can I say, sometimes a guy just wants the impossible- for you as a squad to become a unit, a team, a sorority in a way, a sort of family. Nobody always gets along with everyone in their families 100% of the time (if you've been snow-bound with yours this week, you know what I mean) but you always have something in common with them, you're always part of the same family and therefore part of each other.

It may be REALLY cheesy or sappy to talk about your fellow cheerleaders as a sisterhood, but now that you've been a BV cheerleader, even just for this one month, it will always be a part of your past, it is an experience that very few people get to have, and that experience is something that you now share with cheerleaders who have now graduated and with the other people on your squad.

If you are loyal to this elite sorority, you will look out for them and cover their back, even if as individuals they're not your favorite person in the world, even if they drive you crazy sometimes.

Why? Why should you? Why bother? Because loyalty is reciprocal. If you support them, they'll support you. They'll look out for you and you'll be able to know that there will always be someone who's got your back. In college and business they call that networking. That's one of the reasons they invented fraternities and sororities.

My father was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and one thing he taught me about the USMC is "once a Marine, always a Marine. You may refer to someone as a 'former-Marine' once they're discharged or retired, but the only 'Ex-Marine' is a dead Marine. Anyone who's ever known a Marine knows that they are FIERCELY loyal, first to our nation, then to the Corps (sometimes much to the chagrin of members of the other 3 branches of the armed services).

One of the reasons cheerleading was invented was to promote loyalty to your school, and to create that sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself- the community, the team, the school.

You will always be Bulldogs, and more than that, you will always be Bulldogs' Cheerleaders.

Pyramid of Success 4; Cooperation

"Alone we can do so little;
together we can do so much."
~Hellen Keller

"We must be willing to learn the lesson that cooperation may imply compromise,
but if it brings a world advance it is a gain for each individual..."
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Listen if you want to be heard. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

It should go without saying that a cheer squad is going to go nowhere if they can't cooperate. Cooperate with their coach and with each other during practice, cooperate with each other during a game or during a stunt. If a train has 8 cars and all 8 want to go in different directions, it won't go anywhere.

I know, I know, once again, it seems like I'm writing this just because I it's something I want this squad to work on, but again, it's just a coincidence. Well, come to think of it, maybe not- maybe Coach Wooden put these blocks in his "Pyramid of Success," because they're problems that every team runs into- even NCAA championship teams like his at UCLA. Maybe he included them because they really are things that everybody needs to achieve success, not just in sports, but in school, and work, and life.

Compromise- sacrificing our own personal self-interests, agendas and ambitions for the sake of what's going to make things work out best for everybody else can be really hard sometimes, but sometimes it's the only way to move forward.

Thomas Jefferson had to put up with a lot of changes to his Declaration of Independence to get it passed Congress.

You may not be Nebraska Cornhusker fans and I wouldn't blame you, they haven't been very good lately. But back when they were a "dynasty" under Coach Tom Osborne, the reason was because they didn't have any hot dogs, no glory hounds, primadonas or spotlight hogs. Every player was a team player, they weren't concerned with personal records or attention, they were all willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the whole team. During the 1980's most Nebraska quarterbacks went on to play as running backs, not quarterbacks when they went on to the NFL- that's because they were never big show offs while they played for the Huskers. The result was 13 conference championships and 3 national championships. That success came from cooperation, not domination.

King Arthur had this motto carved into the round table at Camelot, “In serving each other we become free.”

Think about that. The best way to become free is to voluntarily serve. Sounds illogical, but then, I bet it sounded illogical last time when I told you that you should try to be friends with people you can't stand. "Servant-Leader," it's not really such an oxymoron, actually it's a phenomenal key to success.

The Pyramid of Success 2; Enthusiasm

"Act Happy
feel happy
BE happy
without a reason in the world"
~Dan Millian

ENTHUSIASM, love, school spirit, fire, energy, passion- whatever you call it all the work in the world won't be worth the time without it. If you have it, it brushes off on those you come in contact with. And THAT'S what cheerleaders are for- spreading that spirit!


" And how does one have enthusiasm in life? Actually, it is as simple as this: Cultivate the ability to love living. Love people, love the sky under which you live, love beauty, love God. The person who loves becomes enthusiastic, filled with the sparkle and the joy of life. And then he goes on to fill it full of meaning. If you're not enthusiastic, begin today to cultivate the love of living. Like Fred, for example…

So don't depreciate life by enumerating all the thing that are wrong with it. Lots of things are wrong, and something has to be done about them. But focus mentally upon all that is right about life; life is mighty good, a lot better than not having it, I should think. A lifetime on this wonderful earth doesn't last very long, either. It is here today and gone tomorrow. So love it while you can, and be full of enthusiasm-"

~ Norman Vincent Peale
'Enthusiasm Makes the Difference'

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was a powerful motivational speaker and writer who taught about being POSITIVE, optimistic, and enthusiastic- all vital qualities for any cheerleader.

He also wrote The Power of Positive Thinking, but I suggest you buy, read, and live by The Power of Positive Thinking for Teens, it's shorter and written in easier to understand language.

When I moved with my family to Iowa I left behind a lot of friends, a real support network in California. At that time Boyer Valley had a really tough reputation for fighting, drinking, drugs, and mistreating teachers. The building was literally crumbling around us. It was depressing. I'm one who's always struggled with bouts of depression anyway (fortunately never severe enough to require medication). A book encouraged me and got me through that first year.

Somewhere I got my hands on Dr. Peale's book, 'Enthusiasm Makes the Difference.' His bottom line is a lot like concentration camp survivor's Viktor Frankl's in his book, 'Man's Search for Meaning;' no matter what you're going through, you decide your attitude about it. Instead of passively complaining when you don't like thins you have to do or thinking that they don't matter much or don't mean much- YOU make them matter, you make them mean something by putting yourself into whatever it is you're expected to do.

Enthusiasm is difficult to put into words. Even the dictionary isn't all that clear, it just compares enthusiasm to things like excitement, zeal and passion. That might be why I'm using so many quotes in this post. Perhaps the reason I focused more on Norman Vincent Peale than on Coach Wooden this time is because I think that what enthusiasm really is, is having a positive attitude.

It sound's cheesy or cliche, but what it really boils down to is when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I know this may be a difficult concept to put into practice because many teenagers are naturally negative and critical, but along with hard work, it is a cornerstone- nit just another building block, but the very foundation of success and of cheerleading.

It's vital and indispensable. And it is most certainly not lame, stupid or pointless. I promise, if you work hard at making the most of things and staying as positive as you can in every situation- your life will improve.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. ~Winston Churchill

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes." ~William James

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances." ~Vikto Frankl

Enthusiasm is contagious - and so is the lack of it. That's why I need you to give your all at practice and to stay upbeat and positive at games- even if you have to fake it.

“Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic” ~Dale Carnegie

“Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic”~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do” ~Norman Vincent Peale

Enthusiasm is contagious. You can start an epidemic. It starts with you. The more enthusiastic you are, the more it will spread. Really, this is a cheerleader's job. You already do it at games. Soon you'll be doing it at pep-rallies. Be positive and others will come around too. Smile and people smile back.

Enthusiasm is what wins spirit sticks.

Enthusiasm is contagious. You can start an epidemic. This is part of why I caution you against complaining to loudly when the crowd is unresponsive. You want THEM to catch your enthusiasm. You DON'T want for you to catch their apathy. In this way you are being thermostats instead of thermometers- instead or reacting TO the climate, you ought to be affecting the climate. Crank it up.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
~John Lubbock

The Pyramid of Success 1; Work

I'd like to take this Christmas break as an opportunity to start talking to you about something I think is very important. I don't just want you to learn chants and stunts and prepare you for games. I want to teach you about character and hopefully try to prepare you for life. If you read these posts and really take them to heart, we will have a better squad and you will take something away from cheerleading that will be much more powerfull than being able to yell loud.

The "Pyramid of Success" was developed by Coach John Wooden. His 10 NCAA National Championships in 12 years while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach ever. He has long since retired and lives near where I used to live in California. My friend and former Vice Principal goes to his church and has gotten to know him pretty well. He has written books on success and is widely respected in both sports and business.

Here's is most famous quote-

"Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
~John Wooden

The first brick in the foundation of the pyramid is something Coach Wooden called "industriousness," but you could call it having a strong work-ethic.

"Hard work, dedication and desire don't guarantee you a thing, but without them you don't stand a chance."
~Pat Riley, NBA Coach (Bulls, Lakers)

"The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price."
~Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers - the Super Bowl trophy was named for him)

Success depends more on how hard you work for it then on your talent. Think of it as a math equation:

e/a= s

Effort divided by Ability equals Success. You can have all the talent & skill in the world, but if you aren't willing to work hard, you will go nowhere.

Cheerleaders need to focus and push themselves (& each other) in practice. We should WANT to work out and train and review and improve. If we don't work, we won't get anything done.

Not everybody likes to have to work. It may not be that they're lazy- it's just that they don't want to have to do what someone else tells them to, or they have higher priorities for using their time, but nothing pays off like hard work.

Between now and January, I'll be posting notes on the other bricks in the pyramid. I hope you think about them and take them to heart. It would be easy to not take it seriously- just more "Character Ed" stuff like the 5 pillars that you learned in elementary school, but John Wooden swore by his pyramid. And he must've known what he was doing. Check out what Wikipedia says about him:

"During his tenure with the Bruins, Wooden became known as the 'Wizard of Westwood' (UCLA) and gained lasting fame with UCLA by winning 664 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons, including 7 in a row from 1967 to 1973. His UCLA teams also had a record winning streak of 88 games and four perfect 30–0 seasons. They also won 38 straight games in NCAA Tournaments and a record 98 straight home games"

Some of his players include the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who while he was a student, thought the pyramid was a little corny- but credits it with his later success in the NBA and in life in general.

I want cheer to be fun and full of memories for you, but I also want each and every one of you to come away from cheer with integrity, respect and genuine leadership abilities. Take time to read these and you'll be building yourself and our squad into something great.

"I am only an average man but, by George, I work harder at it than the average man."
Theodore Roosevelt