Supporting the developmental programs at your school and in your community to ensure the future successes of your program.
Very rarely in coaching, does a team come along with so much natural talent that as coaches we can just sit back and let them shine. More often than not our talent comes from hard working kids that learned by being on the freshman or JV teams. In some communities, these kids may have learned their skills on a youth team that fed into the high school program. When kids play sports or participate in activities, they want to be on the best team or the highest team. Some kids are lucky and get to start there, but mostly we have to start on the developmental team and work them up to being on Varsity.
It can be discouraging for some kids to have to participate on JV. As coaches, we need to treat the JV team with just as much respect and adoration that we do our Varsity. These kids are the future of our program. If we keep them motivated and excited about being a part of the ‘family’ then they will continue to work hard to make the program better. Unfortunately, some coaches treat their JV or Freshman teams as lesser athletes and they lose them before they get to move up.
Here are a few ways you can keep them feeling good about them selves:
Have the JV and Varsity teams bond together. Have them work together on a project or assign ‘sisters.’ This will allow the varsity to remember what it was like to be on the JV team and they will help keep those kids excited. Keeping JV on the same level emotionally with also help them with self-esteem and pride in their accomplishments.
Have your Varsity take time throughout the season to support the JV cheerleaders. Have them attend games as fans to cheer on the cheerleaders. Have them send notes and letters to keep them feeling motivated throughout the year.
Have your JV participate in some of the events that are usually only Varsity. School assemblies or performances, halftimes or pre-game for Varsity games are other ways to keep them involved. They will feel accomplished for being involved in the bigger events and it will make your cheerleader as a whole stand out more to have double the amount of cheerleaders on the floor.
Allow your JV cheerleaders to participate in a few functions that are just for them. They could attend a competition with a JV category or perform at a community event that the Varsity is not attending. Our JV Cheerleaders got participate in a parade and school carnival last year that the varsity could not go to because of an away game. The JV cheerleaders had a great time and the varsity was able to watch the parade from the sidelines and support them before getting on the bus.
If you are lucky enough to have a youth program in your area that feeds into your school, work with those coaches. Let them know what is expected of the cheerleaders and what you would like to see. You could even go as far as having them attend some of your practices. Your cheerleaders could teach the youth some of the traditional cheers and chants from your school and even the fight song. It will make both programs better.
The most important thing is to remember that these kids are all really the same. School Spirit should be equal regardless of what squad you are on. Varsity gets more benefits because they have the better skills, but they are not better people.