The Challenge of Explaining Allstar Cheerleading

One of the biggest challenges as a parent or athlete is explaining the sport of Allstar Cheer.

After trying for many years to articulate what these kids do on a daily basis. I figured it would be better to capture the experience.

I was fortunate enough to follow the amazing Stingray Allstars Black during their journey at the Cheersport Nationals in Atlanta back in February. This is a raw uncut version of their quest to earn a summit bid.

If you have ever struggled to explain or properly articulate what parents and athletes experience at Cheersport, this will be a great video to share. If you have never been. Take a look at this post about surviving Cheersport

Out of respect of the program and team, I waited until after Summit to release as the full routine was in the documentary.

I hope you enjoy “Chasing Destiny”

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The person that does not belong on the Cheer Team…..

You know…. there is always one. In the beginning of a cheer season. There is always excitement, the unknown, pieces of a puzzle that have yet to fit. Then it begins. The first practice. Whispers start, the sizing up begins. Who does not belong? Who is the kid that should be on a higher level team? Who is the kid who had no business being on the team in the first place. The athlete that has the mental block or ” lost his/her tumbling”?  Who is the athlete that just is not mature enough to handle the pressure? Do you hear it? Sure you do….

Months go by, and things start to take shape.  The team is forming, bonds and stunt groups are starting to click. Personalities are complimenting each other. The athlete that “a few” said was not mature enough, is looking up to the athlete that was left behind from the successful team from the previous year. The athlete that is grooming their tumbling is learning from the athlete that should have been put on that “higher level team”. They are beginning to grow and learn from each other, but you still hear the whispers”. Do you hear it? There is still one, maybe two or at worst more than two. Why are they still here? How are you going to be successful with them in the mix?

Competition season starts and the athletes that did not have the proper tumbling are mentally beating themselves up everyday by trying to keep up with the team. They are putting in extra hours pushing through the mental struggle they have no control over. They do not understand why they can’t yet push through this struggle. The parents of said athletes stay silent in the corner. Praying they can keep up, fighting through the daily struggle of trying to make sure their athlete feels worthy of being on that team. The athletes that have their tumbling down cold are encouraging the athletes every chance they get. Screaming encouragement and comforting them when there is a setback. The coaches are working on drills every practice to instill confidence and developing skills. the team is growing! Yet, it is still there, do you hear it? Maybe you can see it. Maybe the notion still whispers in your ear. I still can’t believe it, but they are still here, on the team.

We are heading into the final stretch. The practices intensify. The superlatives of every athlete are maxed to form the identity of this team. Maybe at this stage you are undefeated, maybe you have not won a competition all season. The results at this stage seem irrelevant. Especially, to the one that does not belong on the team. Obviously, they simply do not get it. Win or lose, you are still going to hear it. Do you hear it?

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The time has come, it’s the final time on the mat together. The team has grown together and formed an unspeakable bond. The backspot that did not have her tumbling all season, saved that elite stunt and fought her heart out to keep that flyer in the air all season, never dropped once. The superstar tumbler that you learned should have been on a higher level team, sometimes struggled to keep her group in the air. She mentored the younger and less experienced athletes and helped them realize and capitalize on the moment. She showed them composure and confidence. She built them up with just her presence alone. The flyer that came out of no where from another gym, fit into the team like a glove and complimented everyone in her group. She is now one of us.   The team has come together like an amazing jazz ensemble.

It’s all over now and maybe the journey has ended at the Summit or Worlds. Maybe it ended, without a win at all. What ever the outcome there is no doubt it will end with tears of joy. The battles, struggles and sacrifice will always play and important part in your life whether you believe it or not. The teammates you shared this journey with are a part of your make up, forever.

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Upon reflection, there was that one element that held the team back from absolute greatness. Even at the end of the season, this person still did not get it. It was the one piece of the puzzle that never seemed to fit in. The continuous negative energy that weighed over the team the entire season. The continuous chirping and jockeying for position. The person that could not see the amazing miracle of growth and journey that will bond this team forever not realizing what was happening right in front of them.

You know the person I am talking about. When you think of a successful season, I hope you think of an experience that is magical, all the way up and down the spectrum. The athletes, coaches and parents. There is one that did not belong for reasons they never figured out.

So who is it do you ask? Who is the person that does not belong on the Allstar Cheerleading team? If you are a parent reading this right now.  I hope and pray that it is not YOU…..your team needs every ounce of your support. To be a complete magical season. Coaches, Athletes and Parents all have to come together as one. Don’t be the person that casts a shadow on a magical season, as parents it is up to you to lift up and lift all.

Welcome to Mintland Podcast- The Final Chapter

With this being the final chapter in the Welcome to Mintland podcast, I wanted to do something a little special. I was lucky enough to be joined by Wendy McConnell and Scott East of the 2015 World Champion Peach Rays.

Please listen in, as the coaches share their memories of the Peach Rays / Peppermint Rays special season and bond the two teams shared. It was certainly a special moment that everyone will remember for years to come.

I also share another exciting announcement within the podcast. You may have noticed it already. If you look hard enough you may be able to find the little secret I share about the book.

What started out as a hobby to share the story with younger listeners, has turned into such an amazing experience reliving and expanding on this fun story. I certainly appreciate all of the listeners that have invested their time to listen in and I hope you enjoy the story and carry on the spirit of this team through all your life journeys.

Enjoy the final Chapter The Road to Summit below.

http://welcome-to-mintland.madewithopinion.com/road-to-summit-chapter-12/#

The episode you have all been waiting for!

Well gang, it’s ready. Chapter 10  The Peppermint Plot Twist. The podcast of the chapter that answers all the questions people have about the magical allstar season we have come to love.

How did a mini team end up at Summit?

Was this REALLY a mini team?

How did this all happen? Why did it happen?

Did the parents know this was going to happen? What was the reaction when you heard the news?

How does a young team handle the situation of hitting on both days of a competition but coming up short and not winning at NCA?

As a parent, how do you handle that situation with a 6-year-old?

What was the reaction of the team when they learned what they were going to attempt?

It’s all here in Chapter 10! Complete with an interview with Blair Green a parent of one of the Peppermints on the team and my daughter Kaitlyn who was a member of the Minnie Mints and Mickey.

I hope you enjoy and please take a minute to give the podcast a review in iTunes. I would greatly appreciate it.

Listen to the Chapter 10 Podcast HERE

If you would like to listen to the podcast on YouTube you can listen HERE

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Welcome to Mintland – New Project Coming Soon!!!

One of the cool things about writing Welcome to Mintland is interacting with readers. It blows my mind that a book I basically created for the team is being read by individuals across the nation and a few in other countries around the world.

I get many requests and great ideas from readers all the time. As time goes on, people  are appreciating the 2014-2015 Peppermint accomplishments more and more. Although this book was written about a mini team from the Stingray Allstars, the story resonates with any Allstar Cheerleader or parent. 

I’ve had numerous requests to make the book more accessible to others. Specifically, many have asked for a audible version of the book. Instead of dismissing the idea like I did early on, I began asking folks why they believed it would be a good idea, as it came up frequently. Responses ranged from, “Well my son or daughter is too young to read the content but I want them to hear the story” to Well between school and driving to practice all the time, we are always in the car, I would love to hear an audio version of the book”.

A few months ago I looked into it out of curiosity. There were a few options. Most were really expensive. I still struggled with a long audible version of the book. I was looking for a better way to deliver the story in a digestible manner. 

After completely binge listening to my very first podcast this week, it hit me. This may be the best way to deliver the book to a bigger audience! 

As usual, I have no idea what I am doing, but I think I want to do it! I have a few ideas on what I want to do. I want to take it slow in 10-25 mins sections and chop the book up into audio chapters. I might be able to coerce a few to do some interviews on the season and get some guest commentary, who knows where this will go….but why not? At the end of the day, I just love sharing awesome stories. This should be fun, so let’s give it a shot! 

I may or may not have recorded a few things as a test. If it’s not horrendous, I may be coerced into realeasing a few snippets. I let my daughters listen to the first chapter I recorded on the way to practice today . They both said, “Wait, you did that… that was really really cool!” So it can’t be that horrible. (They would certainly tell me) 

Should be a fun journey! I’ll keep you updated.  In the mean time, here is a snapshot of the first episode. It’s rough, but it’s out there somewhere. Not sure if you can find it, but I will release it to the masses soon enough. If you can’t wait and need a taste of what this will sound like I am sure my webslueth Cheer Parents might be able to find  out a few clues on the picture below 😊👍🏼🍥

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

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.