Seeing beyond the excuses and learning that Coaches always know. Always.
This topic letter was a bit of a challenge until a fellow coach of mine offered up X-Ray. As a coach of teenagers, I see a lot and I hear a lot. In order to maintain the image that we want for our team, we have to be able to read a personality almost instantly. As a veteran cheerleader and cheer coach I have gotten good at reading my squad and knowing when they are trying to BS me. As a great friend of mine says, “You cant BS a BS’er”. When I was a teenager, I thought I was sneaky enough to get away with things and I was ALWAYS caught. My mom ALWAYS knew what I was up too. Years after I was in high school and no longer living at home I asked her how she did it. She simply said pay attention and listen.
Society has gotten to the place where monitoring my team’s social media sites is important to maintain the image we have set for our program. At tryouts and at my information meetings I tell the kids what I am looking for them to do and why. I ask them to add our team page as a friend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If they are following the rules there should be nothing to hide. There have been a few times where my students were at a party or participating in something that they shouldn’t have been and it has shown up on a social media site. I don’t stalk their pages, I simply read through and if something catches my eye I look into it. 99% of the time my kids are fine. I see some language issues and a few questionable photos now and then, but for the most part, they are good.
As a coach, I feel that it is important to monitor these sites. You have a program that’s success is dependent on young girls making the correct choices. They need to understand the responsibility that they have to the team. Even colleges are getting on the social media circus. Our local university here expects it squad members to work hard and portray them selves in a positive manner. They have IIE on many of their practice clothes. IIE means, Image Is Everything. Putting those three simple letters on the practice clothes is just a small reminder to them to stay focused and do the right things.
This past weekend was the tryout for the university. As a coach, I highly suggest that if you have the opportunity to attend a tryout, you should go. It is amazing to see the differences between high school and college. While many of the things that college tryouts do we are not allowed to do in high school, there are so many things that we can take from watching back to our teams. Each girl is required to attend tryouts wearing the school colors. They must be “game ready.” Hair should be done and clothes nice and neat. Makeup on, clean shoes, manicured hands. Be on time, no phones, pay attention, etc. They want to see what you will look like on the sidelines of a game or at an event for the school and if you have the discipline to be in their program. If you don’t present yourself well at tryouts you are probably not going to during the season.
Pay attention and listen. Watch social media. Listen to them when they are sitting around talking on breaks. Pay attention to what they wear to school. Talk to teachers. Communicate with parents. Listen to their friends in the bleachers during games. You will find out quite a bit just by doing these things. It matters. When I make comments to my team about a party or get-together that I knew about, or things they are doing, they always ask me and I always say, I know everything. You don’t want to be that coach that gets the call from their athletic director saying that half your team is sitting out for 6 weeks because they made the choice to drink at a party and got busted by the police. (Guilty). It may seem like a lot more work, but if you truly want your program to improve, you need to monitor your team outside of practice just as much as inside. They don’t stop being cheerleaders when they take off the uniform.