It has been four and a half months since my last post. I would like to say that I have a great reason for not writing. The real reason is that I was overwhelmed at the cheer season starting and a little bit lazy. The 30-day challenge made it easy to write because it had a focus and a goal for each day. Unbelievably even after 17 years of coaching, I still learn something new every day that I am coaching.
My topic for today is Rules. When setting your team rules, make sure that you are setting rules that you intend on enforcing. Recently I placed in a position where I had to enforce a team rule that involved removing a cheerleader from my team. I tell my cheerleaders and parents that the rules are there for a reason. We have developed the team rules to protect the students, maintain the integrity of the program and keep everyone on the right track. My team rules can be summed up as common sense. I expect them to try their best, to work hard, to show up, stay out of trouble and maintain good a standing as students in their classes.
The issue was a cheerleader got in an altercation with a student from another school. The cheerleader was one that has a good home life, works hard at practice, is a good student and has lots of potential as a cheerleader. Unfortunately, she made a poor choice and as a coach, I had to do the right thing and remove her. It was hard on both of us. I understand that students can make mistakes and I believe in my heart that she will learn this lesson and come tryout again with a better grasp on her emotions and what is important in her life.
Enforcing the rule made me look at myself as a coach and evaluate (again) what we are really teaching. Yes, our main focus is to teach our athletes how to be cheerleaders. Motions, Jumps, Cheers, Stunts, Tumbling, Leadership, etc. However, the other part is teaching them how to be contributing members of society. The rules that I set each year are rules that are good to follow throughout life. Try your best, work hard, show up, stay out of trouble and maintain a good standing as a student, employee, leader, etc. High school is about so much more than the education. We learn how to interact with our peers and our teachers who later evolve into co-workers and bosses.
I will be keeping the rules as they stand. I think that it was an important lesson for the cheerleader and the rest of her team to learn. She was a major part of the team and they had to come together to rework routines and formations with one less cheerleader. They worked hard and went to the game the following day and did great. If one did not know there were supposed to be 16 on the field instead of 15, you would not know that there was ever an issue. For that I am proud of them.
I mentioned that I had to re-evaluate myself as a coach, again. I say this because each day I take a step back and look at what we did and ask myself if I was effective, what I could do better, and how to handle each day in the future. The parents and cheerleaders may not appreciate it now, but someday when the kids are grown and they remember the lesson learned, good or bad. They will understand.