Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Give me a “C” - Community Involvement

Cheerleaders are always in the eye of the school, student body and community.  They are the first things you see when you go to a sporting event at the school and many times what we remember from the assemblies.  Being in the spotlight all the time tends to showcase the negative a lot.  Cheerleaders are constantly trying to battle the age old stereotype of dumb girls in skirts and the athleticism of their sport. 

The expectations of my teams are always that they are upstanding students and athletes.  To keep them humble and show them the benefits of giving we participate in many community involvement activities.  Our community starts with our sport, and extends to the school, the town, and the region.  We try to participate in activities that will benefit all.

First, we start with our sport.  We reach out to other schools and teams that are new, have new coaches or just have some of the same demographics as we do.  We try to get together with them and have a practice.  We discuss issues at our schools and how we handle them.  We try to walk away with a better understanding of what each school and team deals with.

Next we reach out to our school.  We do a teacher appreciation activity where all the cheerleaders bake cookies and deliver them to the teachers with a thank you note.  We also host a campus clean-up day.  The cheerleaders are broken into teams and given a garbage bag.  For a set amount of time, they roam the campus cleaning up debris. The team with the heaviest bag wins a gift card.

Third, we reach out to the town.  We participate in pep rallies at the middle schools to get them excited about coming to high school.  Our school has developed a night where the two middle schools that feed our high school get to experience a night where they are the stars.  When the two teams play each other in their regular season for basketball they play at the high school with the band, cheerleaders, announcer, snack bar, etc.  They get to be the center of attention like a Varsity basketball game.  I divide up my cheerleaders based on who went to the different middle schools.  They are given team shirts in the correct colors and cheer against each other.  The cheerleaders love it because it allows them to show off for their alma mater and the middle school kids get to see what they can expect.

The cheerleaders also participate in two parades.  The first is the Veteran’s Parade.  The cheerleaders march with the band and hand out thank-you’s to the veterans for everything they do.  We also march in local Christmas parade.  Years ago the parade director asked cheerleaders from our town to do a pre-parade pep rally.  They walk up and down the parade route before the parade to entertain the spectators.  We then jump in with our band and march the parade route with them.

Lastly, the cheerleaders give back to our region.  We participate in a cancer walk the benefits our area.  The cheerleaders solicit donations, dress up and perform cheers and chants while they walk the 3 mile course.  We don’t always raise a lot of money, but they kids get the opportunity to support a great cause and support others.

We do all of these things for many reasons.  One main reason is so that the cheerleaders can say thank you to a community that is so supportive of us.  Many of our residents step in with donations and participate in our fundraisers to keep the costs low for the cheerleaders.  The cost of sports at the high school level is really rising fast due to budget cuts and transportation costs.  We appreciate every bit of help we get and hope that our willingness to help out in the community shows that.


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