"Cheerleading Is A Breeding Ground For Nasty Kids"
Cheerleading is a breeding ground for nasty kids.That's what I heard as I walked into the elevator at an all star cheerleading competition last season…My first instinct was to listen in and see where this was coming from, and my second was instant unease.
For someone like me, who's grown up in the cheerleading world, hearing something like this sends chills down the spine. Cheerleading? My beloved sport where I met lifelong friends, learned an unsurpassable work ethic, and shaped the fabric of my being? No…this must be a mistake.
As a former athlete/coach, and current Senior Editor for two cheerleading multi-media sites this comment hit a little too close to home. I think anyone who coaches cheerleading or has been an athlete knows the level of influence this special sport can have on a person. I can, with confidence, make the statement that gym owners and coaches are the most dedicated and devoted people I've ever met. The hours, the effort and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis to work with kids, to shape them not only as athletes but as people is really something if you've never seen it in action.
I've heard more people say their coaches influenced and pushed them to succeed on and off the cheer mat/sidelines than I can count.
I know cancer patients that have pushed through the unthinkable with the unrivaled support of the cheerleading community.
I know coaches who've saved lives.
I know cheerleaders who've furthered their education (when they thought they couldn't do it) with the support of their coaches and teammates.
I know athletes with special needs that have felt included and supported.
The power of a team can do incredible things, and not just any team…a cheerleading team.
The comment that sparked this campaign came from a mother who'd obviously been faced with an unsavory experience with her daughter who was a cheerleader. And I'm not negating the fact there are some athletes and maybe even some coaches who 'aren't doing it right'. The blanket statement "Cheerleading is a breeding ground for nasty kids; all of them act like that" wasn't what broke my heart. It was more the idea that there are some people out there experiencing something less than what cheerleading can offer…tainted views from less-than satisfactory coaches, teammates who don't show up (in body or spirit), and unsavory behavior off the competition mat and out of uniform…THIS is not the cheerleading I or the hundreds of coaches and athletes I see every week are a part of.
The fact of the matter is, this is something you see in all sports and in everyday life…we can't all be perfect, people make mistakes and there are always bad apples that spoil the bunch. This is true for football, basketball, volleyball, etc. The views (and some will say stereotypes) of the cheerleading world (and other sport worlds) are shaped by the everyday behavior that the casual non-cheerleaders encounter when they brush by our world. Some may not have the great experience that I and many others have been lucky to have. Some may not stick around long enough to find out, but #ThePowerOfCheerleading is real.
Cheer people - all star, school and college alike remember; cheerleading will live up to OR down to the expectations we cheer coaches/athletes/fans and professionals set. Let's raise the bar even higher.
Let's prove the power of cheerleading.
Has cheerleading changed or shaped your life? Share your story with us by filling out this form! #ThePowerOfCheer