The Stingray Allstars- 15 Year Tribute Video

When you step back and think of the thousands of lives The Stingray Allstars  program has touched over the past 15 years, it can be overwhelming. What started out as a vision, has turned into an amazing culture that feeds off of love, hard work, dedication, sacrifice, but most important family.

While it is true, the program has been blessed with amazing success on the mats. From top to bottom,  no matter the age group or level, the amazing leadership within the walls of Stingrays sets a tone for our athletes from tiny all the way through our worlds teams. It begins and ends with the leadership we are blessed with.

The coaches are too humble to take recognition and will pass the success on to the athletes and families. Out of respect for the coaches and entire staff, I will not single you out, but we thank you and appreciate everything you do for our children. The coaching and support staff of the gym sets an undeniable tone and an expectation to do your best at all times and do it with class. This expectation defines the Stingray culture and builds normal athletes into extraordinary young men and women. It makes our little gym in Marietta, Ga truly “One of a Kind”

While it is simply impossible to capture 15 years of amazing in 4:54 secs. I hope you enjoy the hype video. Let’s have a great year and may we always keep the Stingray culture alive. Here’s to the next 15 years. You may want to turn this video up!

I present the Stingray Allstars 15 Year Tribute Video

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What to tell your Allstar Cheerleader after this election.

As parents, we have an incredible responsibility. This past election has taken a toll on many. Our children are watching. They have questions. We as parents have a responsibility to educate our children about the incredible freedoms we enjoy and privileged to have.

The morning after the election people were shocked, saddened, blindsided, overjoyed, validated and scared and paralyzed with fear. Many did not know how to react. Not many saw this coming. No matter where you stood in this election, we did our best to educate our children on the values each of us hold dear to our hearts. Increasingly, those values are vastly different, yet all important. During all of this,lessons were learned.

Many of our children went to bed with an idea of what was going to happen that night. Many woke up with a completely different perspective of how the world just changed. Some feel it is good, some felt is was bad. As we took to social media trying to make sense of everything, people vented, compassion ensued, humility was thrown out the window. Over the top paralyzing posts of hate littered the timelines along with inspiring words of hope and positivity. One question continued to turn up as I thumbed through my feeds.

“What am I supposed to tell my children in the morning?”

No matter where you stand with this past election, I hope we can agree that both candidates were very flawed. We as parents owe it to our children to give them an honest overview of each candidate (if, and only if they ask). With the varying ages, this overview will be filtered to some extent but is should be honest. If not, we are doing a huge disservice to our children who we unwillingly forced into the nasty business of politics at a very young age during this election.

The question kept rolling around in my head. If they asked, what would I tell my daughters? My wife and I were driving back from an appointment. We were stuck in traffic and she was killing time catching up on the latest social media for the week. She had been extremely busy at work and traveling for the week. She continued to stumble upon the same question. She dropped her phone in her lap looked over to me and said. “Why would people struggle for words on what to say to their kids in the morning after this election?” “The only words that matter: “Get your butt up, get your shoes on, and get dressed for school”

That was a very simple response to an extremely complicated issue. It is why I married my wife. She is amazing and incredible role model for my daughters. She has worked extremely hard to compete in a male-dominated field. In all these years, never once has she stated that she did not succeed or was held back because she was a woman. We know the reality of the situation, but she will not let it define her. I felt I needed to expand on the topic and thought of a few more things to tell my children in the morning.

  • NO ONE can hold you back in anything you set your mind to do.
  • Do your best in everything you do.
  • Be the change you want to see in your life and in the world.
  • Seek out positive role models and surround yourself with as many as possible.
  • Model those role models and reach out and love those that have lost their way.
  • Never underestimate anyone and treat everyone with respect.
  • Don’t be afraid to befriend those who are different from you, They will make you a better person.
  • Finally, get your butt to practice, listen to your coaches, be the best teammate possible and continue to do amazing things with your diverse, amazing team. Respect the legacy those before you have created, and make it better.  

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I am not naive enough to think that these simple words will fix all the complexities with this past election. As parents, the only thing we have control of is producing the best children we are capable of. That is in our control. That is how we create the change we all so desperately seek. It’s on us, make the change together by keeping it simple.

The blessings of taking risks and trying new things.

One year ago today, encouraged by some special parents, I released the book trailer to Welcome to Mintland. I remember being so scared and intimidated to share it with everyone. It was important for me to set the tone of what the book was about and the magic I hoped to capture. I still even now agonize about the details of everything. I knew once I released the trailer there was no turning back, the book would have to be released. It was a very scary time for me.
The day I released the trailer. Welcome to Mintland was over 3/4 of the way completed. I had no idea what I was doing or how I would actually get this book published. I still to this day do not know what compelled me to write it. I needed to take a break from writing and decided to create the book trailer (again a first for me). It took me many many hours to get it right in my head and then transferred to video. After I created what I thought captured the essence and tone of the book. I gathered up enough courage to share the video with a trusted friend. After watching the video my friend said nothing, she just covered her mouth and broke down in tears. It was then I knew, the story of this magical team needed to be completed. Her reaction validated my instinct that this team and this story was something that may not happen ever again. The team being so young and naive had no idea what they had accomplished together. Looking back it all just seemed like a blur as everything simply fell into place as it was meant to happen.
As this story ages, it will continue to live on. My hopes are a few kids and parents read the story and are inspired to try new things. Hopefully, the message they take from the book is that if you believe in yourself and others you can accomplish ANYTHING no matter what your age is. Set a goal and go for it. If there is a bump in the road set a bigger goal and go for it! If someone tells you every day that you are special, that you can be the best in world and you dare to believe it, special things will happen.
The Finished Trailer From the Book Welcome to Mintland
For the next few weeks, we are donating all proceeds of sales of the book to the Louisiana Cheerforce GoFundMe Campaign. If you would rather donate straight to the cause in lieu of purchasing the book please do!
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Many of the former Peppermints ask me every day how many books we have sold for the flood victims. As I mentioned earlier, my hope was that the story would live on to build life long memories and create inspiration. I always tell them every little bit helps, but they will never know the devastation that happened. They feel good knowing their little story is helping people and that was the intent, as the spirit of the book will live on through them for many years to come.

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!