Power of a Positive Attitude: Fighting through a Mental Block

Tonight as a coach I witnessed what skill progression really creates. We had an athlete  that worked endlessly on PERFECTING each and every skill she had. She fought through a mental block of a back tuck and ended up pushing further than she ever thought possible I am sure. She worked hard on technique of her tucks, layouts, and fulls on the air trak and trampoline but the floor was used strictly for handsprings in her case. Tonight she went in with a positive attitude- continued her fight with her mental block on round off back handspring tucks and rocked them! To further her progress she decided to try a layout. She worked technique on the equipment went to the floor and tried it (never spotted). She had tried fulls on the equipment before so she went back did a couple and decided it couldn’t be much different. So she went to the floor and DID her round off back handspring full ALONE on the floor. No one “stood there” no one spotted..she just did it. That is true skill progression. Now I don’t expect every athlete to just go and throw their next higher skill, but the moral of the story is, when a coach tells you repeatedly to just do it…it is for good reason. Learning skills through progressions and independent work is amazing. Having no prior feeling of being spotted on a skills creates independence and mental strength in everything you do. So from this story I want our athletes to learn. Learn that YOU can do anything you set your mind to..and that Fear has no strength against an athlete with determination.

I want any athlete who has a fear holding them back from greatness to keep this story in mind. Once again just more and more reasons I love my job- it is awesome to see young people learn such powerful life lessons.

Allstar Cheerleading is Changing Lives of Special Needs Children

Last weekend my allstar teams and I headed out to Chicago for JAMBrands GLCC Nationals event. The weekend was hectic but as always was an awesome experience and the teams did great. While I was there I had the pleasure of watching many special needs teams take the floor. This wasn’t the first time I had seen a program have a special needs team- as they are very popular in the allstar world- but it was the first time I had really appreciated the hard work and amazing opportunity these programs were giving children with special needs. In fact, it brought me to tears. The USASF has a division for competitions all its own for the special needs programs and if nothing else, if cheerleading never is respected as a sport, I hope it is at least respected for what it does- gives young people- no matter who- a feeling of purpose, drive, passion, and excitement.

Special Squad- Extraordinary Cheerleading

Stories from real people on how cheerleading changed their life!

WILDCATS Cheer Pride some Youth girls with Coach Taylor 2012-2013

The following are real stories from real parents of cheerleaders. If you take the time to read the stories I guarantee you will be moved on the amount of change these girls have experienced simply from joining a cheer team :) Names have been eliminated to protect the identity of the girls.

From a parent of one of our athletes after her very first year of cheerleading:

She was a super good baby and is a good girl still but always very quiet. She never had many friends and has always preferred to be alone. We have had problems with her focus and keeping interest in things like school and activities. She never got excited about anything. I have seen kids pick on her and her just walk away and never say a word. Nothing ever seemed to bothered her either. We decided to sign her up for floor hockey. She wasn’t interested in that either. Turns out when her coach tried to put her in the game, she was nowhere to be found. He would actually go look for her. I have never seen a coach do that anyway she would be in the hall doing cartwheels. He told us to bring her by his gym which was paired with all star cheerleading. We did and she has been in love with WILDCATS and cheer ever since. They change in her has been so dramatic. I get emotional even thinking about it. I never thought we would be involved with anything like this but it has changed her life and our relationship with her.


Another athlete of ours that has been with us for three years:

She has tried many sports, clubs, and extra curricular activities.  Inevitably, she did not commit the necessary time nor effort to any of these.  Then, she joined cheerleading.  In the past 3 years, not only have we witnessed a high level of committment, work ethic, effort, and fortitude, but we also saw her develop strong leadership skills.  I think these positive attributes were developed through a combination of good coaching, accountability to her team and from the self respect needed to endure the physical component of cheerleading.  Cheerleading has definitely built and developed character in our daughter.


The stories from these parent truly give me a new love for my job and we do as coaches. As I receive more stories I will share :)

Lack of Respect Causes Serious Problems

Cheerleading is a sport in any definition!

At my last practice, an athlete came up to me and said she got into a verbal fight with a classmate about if cheerleading is a sport or not. Pretty typical situation as I have encountered this many times even as an adult. So you may be asking what does it hurt except pride to hear cheerleading isn’t a sport?Well, much more than just pride…So here you go-

Problems that are posed

-Increased Danger of Injury: without recognition as a sport, safety is pushed aside. Granted this is mostly just for grade school cheerleading as allstar and college usually have more laid out rules. Two of the biggest problems come with coaches not needing training and practice areas being inadequate. Hundreds of injuries could be prevented every year if the coaches would have emergency plans set up or even just basic knowledge of how to handle an injury. Also, many schools have their cheerleaders practice in the parking lot or in the cafeteria- no mats, no protection.

 -Less opportunity for the athletes future: Cheerleading scholarships are growing but are still quite rare. Few large universities will offer any scholarships for cheerleading. Why? Without being recognized as a varsity sport by the NCAA, there is very little money in college cheerleading programs. This leaves fewer chances for very talented athletes to advance past high school in their sport. Without money for college, some never get the opportunity to cheer again. Again this is a grade school cheerleading problem but even with allstar cheer there is very little available after high school age. There is no “pro- cheerleading”…YET (my fingers are crossed).

Respect Cheerleaders and their sport

 -Lowered self image and motivation: Being criticized and mocked for what you do on a daily basis really takes a toll. Your peers at school telling you what you do and love is dumb and not a sport could make anyone want to quit and do a “real sport.” These athletes are seldom recognized for their accomplishments as well, especially in their peer groups.

With so many problems in the world, I want to keep our youth doing something positive and continuing doing whatever they love. We need to just give them some support, but the only way we can do that is if we change the cheer haters into R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ers !  :)

Cheerleading IS a Sport

What is Cheerleading?

Forget the stereotypes and the clichés. Cheerleading has evolved greatly from pompom shaking, screaming girls (or guys depending on how far back in history you go). As of now there are many different types of cheerleading as well as divisions, levels, ages, genders, affiliations, etc. Susan Woods from Rochester states, ” Imagine if you were to take 12 quarterbacks and 12 wide receivers, and all 12 quarterbacks needed to release the ball from their hand at the same time and have the ball reach each receiver at the same time, and if anyone drops the ball, it’s not a touchdown. That’s what takes so many hours of practice.”  **

School Cheer

Lansing Catholic Varsity Cheer Team- Lansing, MI High School Cheer

In schools, many cheerleading squads are simply there to cheer on football and basketball teams. Also, most of these teams form their schools competitive cheerleading team. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) does not classify cheerleading as a sport but rather as a club, so in college there is a team to cheer on the athletic event (many times coed), as well as a club team that competes.

Allstar Cheer

WILDCATS Cheer Pride Small Senior Level 3 Allstar Cheerleading Pyramid

Then there is a whole other world of cheer called Allstar cheerleading. These are teams that train at gyms that are not affiliated with any teams or schools. They practice at separate facilities and compete at various competitions around the nation. These teams are strictly for competing and have teams for all ages and skill levels. Allstar cheerleading also has many coed teams. They are governed by the USASF– the United States All Star Federation.


Recently USA Cheer has created a new sport named Stunt. Stunt is a college sport that is similar to cheerleading without all of the glitz and glam but full of athleticism in that there are routines made of stunting and tumbling as a team to be performed in competition with another team. Click to find out more on Stunt here. So what’s the argument?

Why do people question its authenticity as a sport?

This is what I struggle with. There is no argument anymore.

General agreements on what a sport is:

  1. physical activity in which propelling a mass or resisting a mass is needed
  2. Competition
  3. Governed by rules defining time, space, and how to have a winner
  4. Competition purpose is to compare relative skills of each team


#1. stunting- throwing people in the air and catching them as well as throwing your own body through the air as you flip and twist.

#2. plenty of competitions

#3. there are rules on the size of the floor, what you can and can not do, as well as what counts as more points than something else, team with the most points wins

#4.  skills are compared based on timing and technique.


The biggest argument non-supporters have is that cheering on football or basketball with sideline cheerleading is not a sport. Correct. That is simply practice for the competitions which is what the teams work for. Cheering for games using chants and props is like the MSU football team practicing their fake field goal kick play…chances are they won’t use it much, but it prepares them for the game.

Check out my Squidoo page on this topic at http://www.squidoo.com/respecting-cheerleading-as-a-sport

There you can vote on which type of cheerleading is your favorite and why!!!


** cited from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Is+cheerleading+a+sport%3F+More+schools+are+saying+yes,+pushing+a+new…-a080744018