Saturday, November 13, 2010

THANKS | 16- for the rookies... and vets too

For those of you who don't know it about me, I coach junior high and high school cheerleading at a small public school in Iowa. Over the years plenty of people have told me that I'm either some kind of saint, or certifiably crazy. There is certainly no shortage of egos, drama, tension, silliness, and annoyances. But most of the time it can be very rewarding. I believe God has taught me a lot through it (certainly patience) and I hope and sometimes think that He has used me to help teach and mentor the girls on my squads.

It can be stressful and I have a handful of friends, colleagues and former cheerleaders (including my wife) whom I can vent to when it gets hard- but I usually feel guilty about it because I'm constantly trying to impress on my cheerleaders the importance of being positive and because I don't want the people I'm venting to to conclude that it's a terrible hardship or that I dislike it and would rather get out of it.

So I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to thank God for the kids I have on this year's basketball cheer squads. Three of the four junior high girls are new as are three of the seven high school girls. A lot of coaches of ANY sport might tell you that it's hard to lose a lot of veterans because you have to go back and reteach the fundamentals. They'll often call it a rebuilding year or a growing year.

The thing about rookie cheerleaders is that they tend to be more coachable, more open to teaching and instruction. Girls who have been cheer for a few years start to get fiercely independent. It's good to be able to trust them to know what they're doing, but they can be less open to correction and and more likely to challenge your coaching. Which is okay, that's natural and all part of the process. But it's nice to be doing more actual coaching, and not merely advising or being just a sponsor again. Sure, it can be more work, but that just means more direct and deliberate interaction with kids. This is when teaching happens and when the relationships are established which will offer opportunities for mentoring later on.

So, I want to thank God for Lexis, Jarlin, Cathrine, and Jamie on my MS Squad and for Brittney, Shannon, and Jasmine on my HS Squad.

Although, I still want to thank Him for those hard working veterans who know what they're doing too. I have no rhythm and can't remember most of our cheers. I'm not a dancer. I coach best when I'm coaching the fundamentals. Cheers and chants are passed down through oral tradition. This year, so far, I've been very blessed with girls that seem to work well together and get along- much less drama than some past years. So, I should also thank God for Renea and Tiffany, Brenda and Kayla- and for Cammey who comes inn to help me teach even though she's not cheering this season.

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