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.

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!

The Dad who wrote a book about AllStar Cheerleading.

So the inevitable happened. One of my fears going into the Welcome to Mintland project was perception. As selfish as it sounds, I was worried what “my boys” would think after they found out I wrote a book about All Star Cheerleading.

A few of my friends found out about the project and immediately called me on it. A few chuckled and teased me, a few were amazed that I dedicated the time to do it. I expected as much, I mean guys will be guys and it would not be normal if I did not get some form of teasing or ridicule. A funny thing happened when I challenged them to read the book. They actually did. At first they were amazed that is was actually a “real book” with chapters and pictures and not a neat shutterfly picture documentary about a kids team.

One of my more “macho” guy friends actually finished the book in one sitting and came back to me with a completely different demeanor. He actually apologized to me and said “that was an incredible story dude” and said it reminded him of Friday Night Lights but for cheer (maybe a bit of a stretch but. I’ll take the compliment.) I was actually shocked by his attitude. You could tell he actually read the story because he asked about specific people in the book, and went a step further by actually watching one of the teams in the story the 2015 World Champion Peach Rays on YouTube.

He finally got it. It was more than just Pom Poms and sideline cheer. The story finally helped me break through what I was fortunate enough to witness week in and week out. We discussed how cool it was that the teams trained side by side next to World Champion athletes. We also went on to discuss how hard the kids work, and that some may never become a Senior 5 athlete, but they aspire to be the best they can be. Then we began to reminisce about old sports stories about football, baseball and basketball. It was then I knew. I finally won him over for just a moment. He discussed how cool the camaraderie and connections were with the team and how the plot twist in the book was such an amazing experience for the kids.

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He now understood the magnitude of Cheersport, NCA, UCA, Summit and Worlds. He now understands why they are broadcast on CBS Sports and ESPN. In his mind, it is now legit.

The ironic part of this story; one of the reasons for writing this book was overcoming the frustration of trying to properly articulate how incredible the teams, coaches and the sport of All Star Cheerleading is. After winning over one of “my boys” I am glad I accepted the challenge.  I will chalk it up as a success at this point.

 

 

 

My first venture as an author.

When you set your path in life. You would like to think you have a vision. Ultimately, your vision will guide you to your ultimate destination. I clearly have a blurry vision, but an exciting one. The most exciting piece of dedicating time to your children is that you get to live through their eyes, but with more experience. I have had the opportunity of a lifetime over the last 12 months to do just that. One of the many gifts that have emerged from this time is a very unexpected project.

I never thought of myself as a writer. If I would ever think of writing something, I would guess it would be about team culture or success of sales teams or advertising. Never in a million years would I ever dream I would write about an experience I had with a group of AllStar Cheerleaders.

I have been surrounded by very gifted writers for a very long time. Working at USA TODAY, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Creative Loafing in Atlanta there is no shortage of some of the best writers in the world. One thing I noticed with all of them is that they did their best work when they were inspired or passionate about something. Almost touched by a superior being. I guess that is what happened when I sat down to write about Welcome to MintLand. When you watch something magical happen before your eyes that can be perceived like an average experience to the innocent bystander, you feel compelled to tell the story. I simply told the story. This story needed to be told, if not for anyone but the team. I was also exhausted from trying to explain the exhilaration of competitive cheer to everyone. You just have to experience it. This was an opportunity to do so. To get a glimpse of the magic that is Welcome to Mintland you can view the book trailer below.

 

The book has been released for only a few weeks but I get asked a two main questions. 1.How did you have time to do this? The answer, I made time for this. 2. Why did you write this book?  This is where the passion comes in.

Welcome to Mintland is about Allstar Cheer ,but the story is much more than that. This story is a group of 6,7,8-year-old kids that became an unstoppable force founded by love and belief in each other. This is NOT a story of some incredible undefeated season. It is a story about what you can accomplish given challenges in the road. It is about recalibrating your vision to a better goal. This team supported everyone along the way including other teams. No one ever felt better than each other. This book is about the word “team” and the power of positivity and belief in others. It’s about a team that completely believed in each other and knew no boundaries to how far they could go as a group.

The book also epitomizes the importance of a strong leader who took them to new heights both as a team and as people. The coaching staff saw the determination, work ethic and heart in this team and it was infectious.

I had two goals in writing this book.

1. When people read this book I want them to take a piece of the culture and share it. Build upon this experience with their new teams, friends, colleges and parents. This spirit which is Mintland should become infectious.

2. When this team grows up and begins their larger journey in life, I want them to reflect on this time and remember the importance of surrounding yourself with incredible people, belief in others, hard work and faith. It will be handy in life.

There are too many life lessons to share, which are outlined in the book. Although the book is about Allstar Cheer they can be applied to any sport and in life. I hope you enjoy the book, and would love to know what you think.

Cheers,

Eric

 

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