J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

Cheerleading IS a Sport!

My daughter Nicole is a hardcore athlete. She is an All Star Cheerleader. All Star cheerleading is a competitive sport. It is different from “sideline” cheerleading, whose main purpose is to entertain the crowd and cheer for a team. All Star cheerleaders compete against other teams from around the state and country. They learn tumbling (similar to gymnasts), such as back handsprings, standing tucks, and layouts. There are “flyers” who are held in the air in different positions and tossed into the air by a stunt group of “bases” and “back spots” – this requires strength and cooperation between teammates. In competition, cheerleading teams are awarded points for difficulty, technique, creativity and sharpness. The more difficult a mount or stunt, the sharper and more in-sync the motions, the better the score. These kids want to win first place at every competition, so they must work together as a team.

These athletes learn skills that are important for lifelong success. They learn about sportsmanship, dedication, self-esteem, and self worth. They must learn to work together as a team. They must overcome differences between teammates and become a cohesive unit. They are pushed to do their best at all times, to give 110%. They are determined and hardworking to achieve goals. The cheerleading organization that we are part of does not allow any negative behaviors or attitudes (including towards other teams). They believe that it is more important to show good character and sportsmanship. They have made it their philosophy to foster the important qualities of integrity, loyalty, respect, hard work, dedication, commitment, and structure in order to develop world class competitors.

The cheerleaders also learn some life lessons that are not fun, but they are part of life. Sometimes even though the team does their best, they still don’t win. There may be another team that had a slightly higher level of difficulty, or maybe their performance was a little bit cleaner. The cheerleaders have to learn to handle disappointment and instead show good sportsmanship and congratulate the winners. And they hold on to that hope that next time they will perform a little bit better, and they may win first place at their next competition. Then there is the situation where a teammate makes a mistake – drops a stunt or falls during tumbling. The cheerleaders have to learn how to handle this situation – do they get angry at the teammate and blame them, or do reassure them that it’s ok and encourage them for next time?

Nicole and her teammates work harder than any other athletes I have seen. They practice 2-3 times per week (sometimes more during competition season), and practices are 2-3 hours each. They are required to wear specific practice clothes and they must be on time or the entire team must do conditioning exercises. They cannot miss practice without prior permission from their coach, and only for certain “excused” reasons. They are taught to be disciplined. Like I said, it is hardcore. But Nicole loves it, and I love it too.

One of the benefits of Nicole keeping so busy with cheer is that she doesn’t have time to get into trouble! I believe that kids who are home alone and bored are the most likely kids to get into trouble. I also believe that children will behave similarly to those around them. If your child is hanging with the wrong crowd, they are likely to get into trouble. I’m sure the kids on the cheer team aren’t perfect, but they seem to be really good kids! They are just as dedicated as Nicole, and I have met all their families, who are just as involved and supportive of their children.

Nicole has had to learn to prioritize her time to make sure she gets her homework and chores done, since cheer practice takes up so much of her time. Sometimes she can’t go to social events because she has practice, but she understands that she must be 100% committed to her sport. As long as she is fully committed to this, and she keeps her grades up, I will continue to support my daughter with this extra-curricular activity.

This is a link to Intensity All-Stars, the cheer gym we are part of: http://www.intensityallstars.com/
This is a link to a video on YouTube showing my daughter and her cheer team at a national competition in Las Vegas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgH0cg-xtKI

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