A few weeks ago, I heard there was no coach for the cheer squad that cheers for my son’s football team. They had plenty of girls signed up, no coach. I’m a sucker for kids, especially kids who are trying to be active and involved.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve been coaching this team along with my sister and “Cheer Dad” since the beginning of August. Cheer Dad is a veteran who missed many years with his daughter due to his three tours in Iraq. Since his daughter is the only one of his kids participating in sports, he coaches what she chooses to do. Even if she chooses cheer. He can’t teach cheers because of an injury he sustained while in Iraq, but he can lead warm ups and discipline. The three of us each found our place; me coaching practices, my sister running the games and Cheer Dad running warm ups, helping at games and other small details like pompom storage.
I have no idea why I dig my stress hole so deep, especially when I don’t even have kids involved in cheer. I have four kids; two football players and one gymnast. My youngest daughter wanted to try soccer, but we were holding out until spring.
I work full time (er, ¾ time) and I’m constantly on the go. My time is spread so thin some days with all the homework and activities I feel like my house is falling apart around me. Laundry piles high in the basement and crumbs pepper the floors. I remember wondering how in the heck I was going to coach a cheer team. And not just any cheer team, a team I had no kids on.
Although I’m a huge believer of the ole’ “where there is a will there is way.” I’ve been found many a night destroying something because I’m determined to fix it. #Nevergiveup.
The first week of practice, I was a little worried I took on more than I could handle. I was trying to get my kids where they needed to be and what they needed for back to school. It was hot and sticky. I didn’t know the cheers. My sister and I would sit in the kitchen excited about the cheers we learned at practice only to get home and completely brain fart.
I had to drag my youngest daughter to cheer. She wasn’t thrilled. The girls were older than her and she wasn't interested. She complained for snacks and drinks and somewhere else to be.
I felt like I was missing out on watching my son practice. I missed the chats with my football mom friends. I was beginning to worry my decision to coach was going to be a huge time-sucking disaster.
And then something happened.
My youngest daughter asked to get in line one day during stretches. I encouraged her to join the group. After three practices we had her a uniform and the title of “mascot.” She began to ask about practices. She was excited to be a part of something that didn’t involve her siblings. She realized for the next few weeks this could be “her thing.”
And in turn it became “our thing.” Along with her Aunt of course.
As I got to know the cheerleaders better, they all began to grow on me. Practice went from something I was worried I couldn’t handle to something I felt good about. I could see them improving, and I could see many of them enjoying learning and growing as a team. My sister and I sit and talk cheer, laughing and discussing practices. We can be found many nights working on the halftime routine in the living room.
We had our first game this past Sunday. My deal with my sister and Cheer Dad was that I would run practices but at the games I would be between football and cheer. I wasn’t going to give up seeing any of my son’s games. By not running the squad at games, I could watch my son play and my youngest cheer. I can help when needed but still have the freedom to watch the game.
This past Sunday the girls cheered loud and strong, and I left the field feeling extremely proud. I felt a sense of accomplishment, and I felt like I had done a wonderful thing despite my reservations and worries. The girls worked hard and looked great. They are out there, experiencing what it feels like to be on a team.
Yes there are parents that drive me batty and I wonder why more people can’t step up and volunteer. Unfortunately I see the same families coaching and sitting on boards every season. My husband is over on the football field, and I’m not over on the cheer field. And all I think of is that in order for these programs to continue and be successful, parents need to step up.
Which is why I did.
This experience has made me even more passionate about being patient and kind. If you can’t step up, be a supporter. Ask what needs to be done. If you’re unhappy about something, remember first and foremost we are VOLUNTEERS. We are busy too, and we are trying our best.
Luckily for kids all over America, it’s the faces of the kids that make every minute worth it. Even one thank you from a parent can wash away the three complaints the day before.
Thanks to all the parents out there who are coaching, volunteering or simply supporting recreation programs. It makes a difference. It really does.