Monday, January 27, 2014

why i coach high school cheerleading

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Still can't believe I forgot to put a bow in my hair for this mini photo shoot. #cheercoachfail
And I'm still laughing at myself for these photos - the pom poms are a nice touch, no? Goon.

If you haven't figured it out by now, I coach high school cheerleading. I'm in my fourth year and my third year as head/varsity coach. Yes, eight months out of the year I give up my Friday nights {and several days during the week} to spend with a group of high school girls. It's amazing and challenging and eye-opening. And I love it. I was a cheerleader in middle school, high school and college, and I love having the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for this sport {yes, I called it a sport, though many do not agree with this classification} with these girls.

But there is one BIG reason that I chose to take on this gig. The opportunity to be a positive role model and source of support for a group of deserving, beautiful, talented young women.

High school may very well be one of the most challenging times in a young woman's {and man's} life. You couldn't pay me enough to do it again. There are stigmas, unrealistic expectations and peer pressure flooding hallways {not to mention raging hormones} in high schools around the world. These kids are under both real and perceived stress that can reek havoc on their self-confidence, bodies and minds. Hurtful words and acts slung absentmindedly or in vain stick in their developing brains like flies to those nasty hanging fly traps in the summer, and changing them forever.

High schools are full of negative self-images and attitudes, but if you get to know these kids, really get to know them - their talents, their dreams, their goals - you will discover young people who need and deserve a truly positive outlet in their lives. It is my hope that during the times that my cheerleaders are at practice and games that they are able to gain confidence, grow in their talent and just enjoy being at this place in their lives.

Last week, one of my cheerleaders asked if I would hand her diploma to her on stage at graduation in May. I cannot tell you how honored I am to have that opportunity and that she picked me. And it was in that moment that I felt like I had done my job as a coach. I hope that I have made a difference in the lives of the girls that I have coached over these last few years. They have touched my heart and changed my life. And for that, I am truly grateful to each and every one of them. If you ever get the chance to be a positive role model in the lives of a young person. Do it.

Today, I'm volunteering for a fourth time with Challenge Day at the high school where I coach. It is one of the most difficult and rewarding events that I get the chance to participate in, and I recommend if you ever get the opportunity to serve as an adult volunteer at this event, do it.

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