Welcome to Mintland Site Launch

The number one request I’ve had over the past couple of months is how is the team doing, or where are they now?  I have done my best to keep up with the team and sharing stories and updates but unfortunately, the information has been all over the place.

Between the Welcome to Mintland FB page HERE, the Blog (You are currently reading) my YOUTUBE channel and my twitter handle, information was kind of tough to find. I wanted to let everyone know I have finally got around to creating a site where you can access all the information you would like about the team.

I have included some special parts of the season I was not able to share in the book. Including the video I created for the team before they went to Summit . I also included a video of Peppermints final performance together as a team at the Summit finals along with the book trailer explaining Welcome to Mintland. I have also included a ton of pictures that were cut from the book.

Ok i’ll stop rambling you can find the new site HERE. I hope you enjoy!

Remembering your moment in time in Allstar Cheer.

It is so great to have many of the Mintland crew back together on teams at Stingrays. I know a few of the original Mint crew are scattered amongst a few different teams and it is amazing to watch them blossom and grow. Since most of what happened in Welcome to Mintland happened at such a young age for most of them, it got me thinking. Do they remember that time? Will they remember the connections? Will they understand the scope of what they accomplished? Will they remember including everyone in the fun and the little things that made that team so unique? That is what made our moment in time so special. We will never get that moment in time back again.
 
It has been so fun to see the leadership and relationships from our time blossom and show up on all of our current teams. This week has been especially fun, as I am noticing the kids maturing and their personalities are really beginning to shine. I am noticing our Mints encouraging others when they are struggling. I am watching teammates pick each other up emotionally when things are not going their way. I see teammates ecstatic when one of their teammates learns a new skill. Basically, what I am saying is I am seeing  the pieces that made the original Welcome to Mintland team so special happening again. What makes the culture so fun is that they are sharing and including others in it. That is what it is all about. 
 
I personally had a moment this week that touched me. It was simple, no one noticed it except my wife sitting next to me (who was hitting me because she though I was instigating it) but it gave me hope that they will remember their moment in time.
Let me explain. In between stunt drills at practice, a few of our goof ball Minnie Mints currently on another team aka: “usual suspects” saw me sitting up in the fishbowl at Stingrays like I always do. (I will not release the current team or the names to protect the innocent as they should have been paying attention to their coaches:) .
They were attempting to get my attention and began to do some silly things. To most, it was probably just normal funny things kids do with downtime. To me, it was a reminder of the connection we had. It was some of the silly things we used to do backstage waiting to go to warm ups or while waiting for awards. I will not release exactly what was done, as break dancing and knocking out killer dance moves during practice is not Stingray policy :).  It was a little gesture, but it meant the world to me. They remembered the fun and more importantly, the place in time.Mint Xmas
The Crazy Personaities of the Welcome to Mintland Crew Dec 201413095823_10207915036305971_4143313258946286090_n
Growing Up and Making New Friends as Red Rays at Summit 2016
This is a tough time of year in allstar cheer. Teams are trying to learn the routine and downtime can be challenging while coaches figure out what is best. It was neat to see them make the most of it, and include a few other new team members in the moment. I was very flattered that they thought to include me. 
The jackets and medals in competition are nice but the connections and remembering the special moment in time during the grind of summer is what each allstar cheerleading season is all about. I am going to predict some very amazing things from our Mintland crew this year. They will continue the Mintland culture and tradition and be amazing because they are.
Many of the youth teams have figured out their goal for this year. It is a big one, it spread like wild fire once they figured out this “special thing” has never been done before. Will any of the youth teams achieve their goal? We will just have to wait and find out…..
 

Why Allstar Cheerleaders are Really Really Weird.

We have all heard it, or better yet we have all been subject to the “side eye”. It comes up frequently this time of year. The time where we as an Allstar Cheerleading community begin to re-emerge into society for last days of school and graduation parties. Old acquaintances and parents from school utter the inevitable words. “Where have you been the last 8 months?”

That is when we proudly go into our “defense mode” and share what we have been doing the last 8 months. It normally follows with a valiant attempt to share how passionate we are about what we do, and it typically fails miserably. Then the judgment follows or at least the pity or typically the statement. “Ohh my goodness, I know so and so who does that and I can’t believe that they do ALL THAT just for Allstar Cheer.” out of being humble and kind we normally respond “I know it is kind of weird huh?”

Let me take a minute to explain how weird “ALL OF THAT” is. In a world where the Millennial generation is vilified for being “entitled” let me explain some of the typical traits you will find in a WEIRD Allstar Cheerleader and their family.

At the graduation party or end of year party, you will find that us WEIRD KIDS will end up in the top third of our class routinely. You will find that we will end up going to fantastic colleges. You will find Facebook timelines full of children winning awards and superlatives for extracurricular achievements. You will find many of the WEIRD traits listed below on a regular. We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but we are on the right path in more cases than not. We display many of the items below everyday because it is what we do.

TEAMWORK

We have understood for years that nothing can be accomplished without surrounding ourselves with amazing teammates and wholeheartedly believing in them to help achieve one goal. We are taught from day one to believe in each other and work together. We are some of the most loyal people you will ever meet and if we trust you, we will give you the shirt off our back. We learn to trust in others and have faith because we have no choice.

WORK ETHIC

Our coaches teach us we will never be outworked… ever. That translates off the mats and carries over into school and in every other extracurricular activity we participate in. Not only do we work hard but we strive for absolute perfection and execution in practice and in competition. When we tighten our bow get outta the way. It’s about to go down.

HUMILITY

We are normally very quiet and respectful. While we are extremely competitive we know how to lose. We are graceful in defeat and show encouragement and respect even if the judges did not see it our way in competition or in life. We do make mistakes but will immediately start to improve on them both on the mat and off…..vigilently.

WE WEAR A LOT OF MAKE UP

Just kidding.. we actually hate it. Only on occasion or at competitions. In the odd event where we actually go to a dance or formal, it will be accompanied by our beloved Nike Pros under our dress, and our heels will be chucked in the corner after about 10 minutes of arriving.

WE TRAVEL IN PACKS

True Story. Go ahead and test this, I dare you. The most heated rivals in Allstar cheer will unite and become one in the event that someone tries to bully or make fun of anyone in the sport. Not kidding, do not test this theory. Everyone has each others back. Parents included.

FOCUSED

We sacrifice a ton. All to be the best at what we do. We focus on achieving that next skill for the betterment of the team and for ourselves. Idle time is non-existent and we would rather be in the gym instead of hanging out at Starbucks ( well sometimes). While we strive for perfection on the mat, that also translates into the classroom and everything else we do. Allstar Cheerleaders are trained to be extremely focused because they have to be.

MULTI-TASKERS

Juggling school, practices, tumbling, stunt, and a travel competition schedule is no joke. We often lead our school cheer teams as well. Not to mention we excel in track and field, band, choir the list goes on and on. We become multi-faceted at a very early age and we do it well. We excel in most everything we do.

CLOSERS

While many people have no idea what we do, we know how to prepare for success and execute. We do it for the teammate standing next to us. Later in life that will go a long way in the workforce. When the bright lights and the music begin to blare, we can stand up in front of thousands on that stage and nail that routine. Sometimes it does not go our way and things fall apart. When that happens we never EVER quit. We push through no matter what even under dire circumstances.

Yes, I know in this day and age that all of this is REALLY REALLY weird.  There are so many other traits I could list but I could go on and on. As I mentioned in If you are in Business…. NEVER hire an Allstar Cheerleader. these traits are very hard to find in the workplace. It’s ok, we have learned to embrace our WEIRD lifestyle, but as a wise man once said. “Live like no one else, so later in life, you can live like no one else” Thank you for your unintended judgment and amazement at what our children and coaches do. We are pretty proud of them as well.

 

 

The Only Certainty in Allstar Cheerleading Tryouts.

The start of a new allstar cheerleading season can be a bittersweet moment.It’s a new era, the beginning of an intense and amazing journey. The previous month was filled with intense excitement and the memories that will last a lifetime as you wrapped up your season.

Day 1 begins with indescribable emotions. The teams have been released, hopes have been realized and dreams have been crushed. New parents and athletes will walk through the doors with an intense anxiety to be a part of something that is bigger than the individual. Most do not yet know what that entails, but it will come.

Your cheer family all saw what happened last year. Every single one of us agreed the industry and strategy changed from Level 1 all the way up to the Worlds Teams this past year. It happens every year. We all sat and talked and strategized about what needed to be done as uneducated cheer parents. We were then excited when we heard rumblings from our beloved coaching staff that they were seeing the same things and laid out a plan to address the concerns to make our incredible gym even stronger for this year. Then it happens. Team announcements are made and the reality of those changes hits home. Little Suzie is asked to go to a team in a challenging division or team you never in a million years saw coming. Maybe you did not get the level or age group you wanted. Maybe you are elated that Suzie was asked to go to a higher level team. Maybe your BFF is on a different team. The challenges are endless but the excitement and the disappointments are always there.

After doing this for a few years now, I can promise you one thing. Know that your coaches agonized over every detail to assemble you on that team. Know that every superlative in the book was taken into consideration when you were placed on that team. Know that the skill that you threw everything at trying to accomplish in the final three weeks before tryouts may have been accomplished in January while we spent half our class staring at snapchat or chatting away during class. Maybe in that class, the coach was not as attentive as they should have been. Did you grab their hand and say, “I need you right now cause I really want this?” Maybe the skill is accomplished, but the coaches need a leader who has been there to guide a new team. Maybe you are that person who from day 1 can show the team how these skills need to be done and the coach will lean on you to show the way to set the pace for an amazing season. That is as important (if not more important) than last pass or center flyer. Can you see and remember that person from last year? Can that person be you?

New athletes and parents will look to all of us to create our own culture of success. What your gym has is special. It is important to walk that culture from day 1. Entitlement is not a word in our vocabulary in this sport. You get what you earn. Sometimes there are certainly tough breaks or decisions that do not go our way. We are all a family and we will stick together. We will not think less of Suzie if she is not on the anticipated team. Quite the opposite. We will always rally behind each other and our kids because that is what cheer parents do. We will rally to get our kids to practice on time, we will help the cheer dad who needs help with bows and makeup. We will rally to find the hair tie, or locate the missing uniform or bow 5 minutes before call time. We will hold the child up who is sick and about to go on stage for 2:30 even though they can barely stand and we will catch them after they fall from exhaustion after performing while being sick. We will cry the tears of joy and cry the tears of pain. We will have each others back. We will show up no matter what and we will get through it all together.

The only certainly I know of in Allstar Cheerleading tryouts is this. After starting the new mission, (if you choose to accept it) you will be rewarded with a unique experience  and a lifetime of memories and experiences that will make you an even more incredible human being. Most importantly, you will never in a million years just focus on the feeling you had in May during placements. You will remember your team and your entire cheer family being amazing together. You will work harder, dedicate more than most and sacrifice the indescribable all to be part of something bigger than yourself, and it will be oh so amazing!

Good Luck to everyone this year!

 

Is paying $5 for the CheerUpdates APP ridiculous?

Being the week of AllStar Cheerleading Worlds, there is no better time to announce one of the biggest game changers in Allstar Cheerleading. Earlier this week CheerUpdates started teasing something big. With many showcases going on before Worlds, this announcement had everyone scratching their head. This is always a big week for announcements and exciting info. What better time than now to launch?

The growth of CheerUpdates has been astounding. To think how much information is shared on a competition weekend should literally blow your mind. To say that the audience reached is similar to what the Super Bowl generates is not an exaggeration. The audience generated by this information in undeniable. All of this information we receive for FREE via Twitter.  Unfortunately, most of us take all this information for granted. The amount of work and attention that go into streamlining all this information is impressive. Twitter has its limitations as a mass information vehicle. Is there a better way to help you find what you are looking for quicker? CheerUpdates thinks so, and they have built an app to take information to the next level.

Many figured out the tease the day before on Tuesday 4/19/2016 and rushed to the app store but nothing was there. Many woke up on April 20th and found the app in the app store. The initial reaction when most saw the app in the store was: FIVE DOLLARS? Five dollars? I mean seriously are you kidding me? The question then becomes, is the five dollars worth it? There was not much to go off of in the app store. No Reviews, No screen shots, Nothing. What does this thing do? Well, below you will find out. I will walk you through step by step what I found upon purchasing the app this morning.

 

Once you purchase the app. You will log in with your Twitter account. The app will ask you for permission to send push notifications for privacy reasons. (good move). Upon logging in you will see the homepage which currently looks like this.

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At this point, it is pretty simple and straightforward, not much to see. You will notice a MENU button at the top left. Upon pressing it you will see this.

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Once in the Menu if you press the “COMPETITIONS” Button you will see this.

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If you press the “Worlds comp” you will see this.

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This is where the magic starts to happen. It does not take a genius to figure out how valuable the organization of this information is. Think about how you currently have to sort through following your favorite division. Endless scrolling and sifting through thousands of tweets and retweets and manually trying to memorize where everyone stands in the division decoding abbreviation after abbreviation due to the character limitations of Twitter. THIS FOR MOST CHEER FANS IS PRICELESS and in my opinion worth tons more than $5. Once you press the division you want to follow you will see this screen. File_001

At the time of this blog post obviously, there is no WORLDS information loaded YET. You can see how it is going to work by looking at the screen. It is broken down by day, also noted will be if the team has an At-Large, Partial Paid or Full Paid Bid.

The first question I asked myself? Will there be a delay in the scoring? Will it take longer to get the information via the app than on TWITTER? My sources say as soon as the scores become available CheerUpdates will apply them to the associated team and will auto order the standings based on incoming scores in the app. How cool is that? Some other features you do not yet see, but need to know about!

  1. Cheer programs will be stored and added so as to easily select them for each event over the course of the year. 
  2. The app will also store competition scores and results during the course of the year for easy access to track how your favorite division (or team in the future) is progressing.

I have also been granted access to some screen shots that will help demonstrate what the app will look like once filled with info. This should give you a better idea of what to expect in the future and for your $5.

In conclusion, my opinion on this app is that for $5 it’s an absolute no-brainer TAKE MY MONEY. The future possibilities of where this app could go are endless. There is also currently a “Bid Declarations” selection that is obviously blank at this point. I am sure more info will come soon on that soon. If I can read into what it is there for, you should be able to assign bids to teams etc. How cool would it be to be notified once your favorite team earns a worlds bid (in the future)?

I like that at this point, it is clean and simple. I feel the biggest mistake many  new app makes is they try to jam too many capabilities into one app and it becomes clunky. CheerUpdates understands what their audience wants and has done a great job responding to the needs of the audience. Hopefully, the app will overcome the limitations that twitter brings by opening up a new era in information exchange for Allstar Cheer fans. For that reason alone, I am supporting CheerUpdates and donating my $5 to this cause. Early indications are that this app is currently exploding in the app store right now. As this goes to press it is the number 1 paid sports app and climbing the charts with a flash. WOW!

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My thumbs already fall off refreshing my phone trying to keep up with all my favorite teams at competitions. Heck, most of us gladly pay for a cable TV bill that is 20 TIMES more expensive than that PER MONTH! I guarantee you most of you use thumbs more on your phone trying to keep up with CheerUpdates more than you watch your TV.

How this app will work for the first time remains to be seen. We have all shelled out much more for streaming competitions where performance is up or down. Ultimately, the choice is yours. In answering the question, “Is paying $5 for the CheerUpdates APP ridiculous?” Hopefully, I have helped you understand the early answer to that question is a resounding NO. Please feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below. I would love an honest dialogue or ideas on where this app should go next!

Is it time to quit Allstar Cheerleading?

It’s that time of year again. It’s a few weeks before Worlds and Summit. You either have a bid or you don’t. Those that don’t are struggling with that fact. Those that do are pushing themselves to the limit after an exhausting  eight-month season. The school work is piling up, spring break is imminent and people are out having fun.

If you have a bid you are doing multiple full outs, you may even be in the middle of school tryouts on top of practicing for Worlds and Summit. Tryout packets are already being turned in for next season. A few others are getting a head start on tryouts. They are perfecting their new skills and passes for next season and you are stuck perfecting the same routine you have performed for the past 7 months. You are still not hitting every time. The coach is making final tweaks, squeezing out every once of points to maximize the score sheet. You are reaching a breaking point. You are using every ounce of energy and focused on not letting your team down….. and those oh so precious Worlds and Summit rings. It’s getting really really hard.

In the back of your mind, you are asking yourself the questions you don’t yet know the answers to. Your parents are pushing you to make a commitment or at least declare for next year. You are running through all the scenarios and asking all the questions you seem to struggle with every single year.

  1. Is the sacrifice worth it?
  2. Do I risk losing everything I worked for if I take a year off?
  3. Would I be able to listen to all of my friends doing incredible things next year in Cheer?
  4. Will I miss the adrenaline rush?
  5. Will I miss my teammates, the struggles, the successes and the bonds?
  6. I am so close to achieving my next skill should I give up now?
  7. What would it be like just to be a normal kid with free time?
  8. My family is here at the gym, would I miss them?
  9. I am tired of getting coached and “yelled at” but I know it is for our own good.
  10. I mean…. I can still tumble right?
  11. Will my parents and coaches be disappointed?

The questions keep coming in your head and then we drop a stunt in practice. The conditioning starts again and it hurts. More full outs come, the questions in my head are becoming easier to answer…. or are they?

Allstar cheer is big on showing all the “look at me” moments. For every award ceremony showing the winning announcement there are 8-15 other teams that do not get the glory. No one shows the video of the agony and crying going on in practice. The stunt and choreography camps, the hours upon hours of sacrifice during tumble and stunting classes. Do you want to do all of that again for one more year?

Your parents are torn. They struggle with the pain of you choosing not to do this again next year, but hoping and praying that you do. They know that you love to do this but would love the extra 6-8 hours a week back (not counting drive time or multiple siblings in a program.) They understand you have no idea the value of the life lessons you are learning but continue to throw thousands of dollars at your dream. The choice is yours (or at least it should be)There are a few weeks left, what are you going to do?

It’s time for Worlds and Summit. You are at ESPN WWOS and the energy is electric. You have one more shot with this squad you have called family for the past 8 months. It is time for one last quest together as a team to capture the dream you have worked for all year.

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Is it time to quit Allstar Cheerleading? There is going to be a time where you have to answer the question, “Am I going to do this again next year?” We hope you will but you will make the right decision for yourself when that time comes. The one thing you will absolutely know many years from now is that the routine you worked so hard on for the past 8 months only lasts 2:30 but the memory of that routine, the journey and the team that you called family will last a lifetime…….The choice is yours what will it be?

It’s time for Summit!..Never Judge a Book by its Cover!

It is that time of year again. Almost a year has past since the amazing Mints did their thing at The Summit. If you are not familiar with Summit it is where the top 10% of the best (Level 1-5 non-worlds) Allstar Cheerleading teams from around the country are invited to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to compete in one of the most prestigious and competitive events in Allstar Cheerleading. It is an exciting time, and a time where lifetime memories will be made. The amazing event was one of the inspirations for writing the book Welcome to MintLand

Our family is very fortunate to be attending Summit once again this year with a new team The Stingray Allstars Red. It will be a very emotional time for many of us who had such an incredible time last year. I wanted to take this opportunity to address a few topics that have come up since I have written the book. Those outside of the Cheerleading world always ask me two questions about the book before they read it.

1. What does “Welcome to Mintland” mean?

2. What is the significance of the cover?

Of course, I always reply, “Well you will just have to read it and find out.” but I have thought a bit about that response and wanted to share a bit more to help people understand the significance.

Welcome to Mintland was the opening voice over in the Peppermint music. As many Allstar Cheerleaders will tell you, the team music will become your anthem. You remember each team you were on, every single motion and 8 count, your teammates and the significance of the season all by your music. Most will remember the music for the rest of their lives. It defines you, the team and the team persona.

In the book, I attempted to describe Welcome to Mintland as a culture that developed over an entire season. It began with the team formation and the bonding process of the kids. It took shape in the form of a cheer routine and overflowed with love and belief from the coaches and parents. Welcome to Mintland is indeed a state of mind. It is a living and breathing thing. Welcome to Mintland is not exclusive to Peppermint or The Stingray Allstars. This state of mind comes from the passion and love that develops over the course of the year. It was built by hours upon hours of hard work and solidified by faith in one another, and some would say fate.

As the voice over continues “The greatest place on earth has blue and green turf.” The culture was built upon everything magical about our special program. It probably has another name or significance in other gyms or other sports. Some would like to call it similar to “being in the zone.” Either way, that will give a little more insight into the significance of the book title.

 

As far as the book cover is concerned, many in the Cheerleading world will understand the significance at first sight. I will break down the significance of the cover for others to understand.

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Hopefully, I explained the significance of the title of the book. We will move on to the bow. The cover photo of the bow is the exact bow that the team wore to Summit. It was made especially for them, for this competition. The new bow signified a new attitude and a bond with the new Mints added for Summit.

Just below the photo is the red mountains. Of course, this has many symbolic references. Since the team colors were red and white, I wanted to capture the theme of the team on the cover. The mountains also capture the maturation and growth of the team along with the long journey and challenge of the season. Finally, the mountains represent the Summit competition and the celebration of how far the team went in that competition. As you can see below, the logo for the competition is represented by mountains as well.

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I thought long and hard about the cover. The obvious choice was to put the team on the front cover to easily explain what the book is about. That would have been a simple choice, but as I explained in The Dad who wrote a book about Allstar Cheerleading I wanted to share a bit more and hopefully explain what Allstar cheer is about. The term “never judge a book by its cover” played a big role in why I changed the cover so many times before deciding on this one. You see at Summit last year Peppermint competed as a YOUTH level team.

When you judge a book by its cover you can be in for some big surprises. Similar to what is inside the book Welcome to Mintland. If you know anything about Cheer you know that Peppermint is known as a Mini age level team. You also know that at Summit, the youngest age group allowed is a Youth level. How did a Mini team end up in one of the most prestigious competitions in the nation competing as a Youth team? You will just have to read and find out! I hope to see many of you soon at ESPN Wide World of Sports for Summit. If you can dream it…. you can do it ..and Welcome to Mintland proves it!

Because of Allstar Cheer, When you fall in love… I will know..

 

So when did it happen for you? Was it age 11? Was it age 4? Was it 6 or 7? When did all this madness begin? As a parent, we want our children to try new things. We want them to flourish and latch on to fun hobbies to help build character, skills, make friends and build lifetime memories. We want to teach our children values built through goal setting and hard work. All of this is achieved through the learning process and discovery. As a parent, I hope you know when special moments happened. Let me explain.

As a father of two daughters, the discovery process for activities started early for us. We started with the Little Gym as we found our daughters loved the engagement and activities involved. The motor skills and the early tumbling drills sparked an interest in both of my daughters. I could tell they “liked it”. We moved on to try dance. It was fun, they did their little steps and routines they learned coordination, timing, and 8 counts. They “liked it”. We then moved on to gymnastics. This really began to move the needle for them, they watched as the older kids flew through the air with such grace and practiced hard to learn each skill. We went to gymnastics for quite a while, they did ok. They “liked it”.

It was suggested that we take a look and try a gym that was relatively close to us. A gym that was known locally as a really good gym. That incorporated Cheer, Dance and Tumble. As I plotted along, I agreed to go visit the gym down the road from us. We were generously offered a free tumble class to see how my daughters liked the program. My oldest daughter wanted to cheer, so we signed her up to be on a team. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. While my oldest went to practice my little 4yr old went out to the free tumble class. She went out for about 30 minutes and the coaches worked with her. After about 35 minutes I noticed something very different, a look I had never seen before from my young daughter. An effervescent glow. She was high fiving the coaches and was completely amped up. The next thing I know, one of the coaches walked upstairs to talk to my wife. The coaches said they were very impressed with her skills and think she would be a great addition to the Grape Rays. I had no idea what that meant, but I could not get over the glow my daughter had. I agreed we could try out for the team and the coaches agreed to let her attend one of the early practices. We came back later in the week and within 10 minutes of being on the floor the bases had her up in the air in a “half” and she popped right up and hit her first “High V”. After that night, something drastically changed.

She “liked” everything. The tumbling, the structure, the dance, the stunts, the coaches. A few months later the Grape Rays would enter their first exhibition for the season. I was scared out of my mind for her. They took to the mats started their routine. They began with a flawless opening into the pyramid sequence. The bases hoisted her in the air. The crowd erupted in cheers and it was then I knew. The face a Father will never forget. The face of a little girl that just fell in love.

My daughter is too young to read and comprehend this article now. In twenty years she may stumble upon this blog post about the amazing Grape Rays that she was a part of. You may find a time in your life that you will find it in your heart to come and tell me you have found someone very special to you. When that time comes around, please know this. When you tell me about this special someone,  I will know the moment you mention the name of this person if you are genuinely in love. I will remember the little girl who I saw instantly fall in love with something special. It will look a little something like the picture below. The very moment, in this exact picture is when I knew.

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Grape Rays 2013 Circus Jam

Here we are three years later with an opportunity for your magical team to make a bit of history together. The friendships, bonds and experiences I know you will hold in your heart forever. Things will change and your passions may sway to other things. I will never forget the first forward roll, cartwheel, front and back walkover and back handspring. The elation in your face will be forever engrained in my heart. The lesson I am most proud of is that you are learning to be a great teammate.

In Allstar cheer you are unable to do anything without your teammates you are forced to work together to have success. I only hope one day you realize the amazing feats your coaches have trained you to do. They have believed in you and you have believed in your team. What makes this so serendipitously beautiful is that you do not even realize you are doing it together as a team. You just do it.

In whatever your future holds in Allstar cheer or anything else you choose to fall in love with. I hope you remember everything about your season. They say that Tiny cheerleaders do not get it. I can easily say that after watching your teams for the past three years I would take the heart, work ethic and fundamentals you have been taught and hold them as high as any other team out there. Your team has transcended “just being cute”. Your team is truly something special.You know what you are fighting for and you have been given the skills and  have earned the right to achieve your goals together with your team. I hope you wish upon a star and all of your dreams come true together as a team, if that does not happen I can honestly say you have done your best. Most importantly, you have had a ton of fun.

Things will begin to get harder and life will change, but I will never forget the heart and pure joy you display with all of your friends for the past three years on the amazing Grape Rays. So below I will share a little memento of your teams final journey. Your team did the impossible, you earned the prestigious Varsity Triple Crown winner for Level 1. As a Tiny team. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

Realizing there is absolutely no point to Allstar Cheerleading.

You have dedicated most of your childhood to this. You have climbed every rung up the Allstar Cheerleading ladder to master every skill possible. You have done your best to surround yourself with amazing teammates, coaches and a community that supports you in everything you do. You have fought through injury, you have worked through lack of God given talent to master the skills that come easy for others. You have pushed through the mental challenges that tell your body there is no way on earth anyone should be able to do this, but you do it.

You have stared down fear, you perform in front of thousands of people with the bright lights blaring and nowhere to run. You go to practice when you want to quit and feel horrible. You have been the underdog. You have felt the intense pressure of being a National Champion and trying to keep that title. You have felt and pushed through the incredible pressure from being on top of the world, and tried to stay there. Knowing that if you can execute through the intense pressure of everyone gunning for you, it will create the perfect diamond. You have sacrificed parties, dances, Proms, free time, ridicule, all to be the best at what you do with your teammates.

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You respect and admire the coaches that spend the majority of the time demanding excellence and screaming at you to get every ounce of effort and focus out of you. You hate them for it and love them all at the same time.You have been blessed to let your talents shine on that stage and you have reached the pinnacle of your craft. You have earned every right to jump on Twitter, FB, Insta or Snap and scream from the rooftop that you are the absolute best there is, but you don’t, because your parents and coaches have brought you up better than that.

You will reach a breaking point during all of this. After you have done all you can possibly do, there will be a time when you say to yourself, “There is absolutely no point to Allstar Cheerleading.” At about this time, I hope and pray with all my heart that you take a look around. I would also ask you to analyze some things. We know you are young and will make some mistakes, but I would ask you to think twice about your actions. Think about the power of social media. Think about the words you choose and the actions you take. When you hide behind that anonymous Twitter handle and spew hate and tear people down who have risen to the top of their craft. When you try to tear others down because you are tired and worn out from practice, school, other responsibilities. When you are frustrated that others are getting the attention after a tough loss.

While you have been so dialed in focusing on your craft, you may have lost sight of those around you, understandably so. I hope and pray that you notice the little Tiny and Mini that idolizes you. I hope you notice the admiration in their eyes staring up at you. I hope you notice after you complete that last pass. There is a Tiny and a Mini analyzing your every move and only one day hoping to duplicate your skill level. I hope you watch when they perfect that forward roll or cartwheel and they are so overcome with joy they stumble over themselves in excitement giving their coaches huge hugs. I only wish that you could see that after those littles come home from practice and competitions they get right back to work creating new routines using your name and the team you represent. When they practice along side you and go for their water break they are longing for you to say hi or give them a high five because to them, you are their biggest hero. I hope you respect that. Carosblog

We all know you did not ask for this, but suspect somewhere along the line of your success there was someone you looked up to. Someone you admired and wanted to be like. Hopefully, they took you under their wing and gave you an encouraging smile or shout of encouragement. Your legacy means something whether you like it or not. An encouraging smile or taking a moment to watch that little team that is working so hard to be like you can move mountains.

At the end of the day, this is a very small world. You understand the bond and the legacy that Allstar Cheerleading represents better than anyone. You know that when the chips are down and you enter the real world outside of cheer, there is no one else you would rather surround yourself with than people who have went through the same challenges and triumphs as you. That could be the very person who you may or may not have been tearing down on #CheerTwitter.

You may not know it now, but the life lessons and skills you are learning that I have laid out in If you are in business…Never hire an Allstar Cheerleader mean nothing if you tarnish or don’t respect the legacy you leave. It means something…it means a lot. If you are not going to do it for the Tiny or Mini cheerleader I mentioned earlier, I understand. Maybe you won’t even consider it for your parents who have sacrificed an immense amount to give you these life skills, opportunities and experiences in life that you may not even recognize at this stage in your life. I certainly hope and pray that you do it for the person you are staring at in the mirror, because you deserve it, and the people you surround yourself with deserve it as well.

There is a circle of life that is Allstar Cheerleading. The circle will then extend into college or any other life path you choose in life. You will be amazing as you always have been. The learning curve may be longer, but you need to realize you built your craft over the course of many years. Life is the same way. The legacy you leave means everything to the future. Respect the honor of what you do by being the better person now.  Continue to be amazing in everything you do, because that is what you know and that is what you were programmed to do.