Dear Mean Allstar Cheerleading Coach,

I started with you when I was a tiny/mini cheerleader. I was mesmerized by watching the big kids. I wanted to be like them and win a medal.

When we started practicing I was a little taken aback. I did not know it at the time, but our team was a mess. We forged on over the course of many months. Through dedication, tons of coaching, fighting through immeasurable amounts of frustration we began to come together. You believed in me and told me I could get that forward roll. Once I perfected that, you said I could get my cartwheel, I did. Then I moved on to my back walk over. I did it, but it was never perfect, You always coached me every inch of the way. Celebrating little victories, but making sure my arms were straight and that I was always on count. Why are you so mean?

It’s almost comp season we are all doing ok, but you seem to be insisting that we become better. Why are you so loud? Why do you insist on perfection? We are only kids. My parents keep telling me you are coaching, but I think otherwise. Why are you so mean?

Competition season is almost over we have quite a few medals and a few jackets. I can only focus on the here and now but I notice our team is becoming pretty good. You don’t tell us that very often in my opinion, and you are still pushing us to be better. Why are you so mean?

It’s the last performance of the season. We want to make you proud. I look down and notice you are crying. I am not sure why you are crying, but I have taken your guidance all year. We do our best again. We leave the mats and I am worried you will be loud again, but your not. You tell us how proud you are of us and our growth over the entire season. We end up winning the competition again. You insist we keep working and striving to be better. Why are you so mean?

Fast Forward…  

I have now moved on to youth and junior teams. While you are no longer my coach anymore, I still see you all the time and you always make time for me and give me a hug. I am working on harder skills now, but the one thing that has never changed is your continuous voice in my ear making sure my form is perfect and that I am on count. I share this drive for perfection and continuous high expectations with my teammates. They buy into my passion for excellence and many ask where I got it from. I am not quite sure, but I think it came from that mean coach I used to have.

We are prepping for Summit. You are still not my coach but still watch me and are invested in me. You catch me slacking off in practice from across the gym. I am not giving it my all. You take time out of your busy day to call me out for it. Literally, across the gym in front of everybody. Why are you so mean?

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Fast Forward…

Life is becoming a little more challenging now. I have been on every level team on my journey from Level 1 to Level 5. I have worked hard and fought through peaks and valleys to make my dream team. I am juggling a very rough school schedule, practice, tumble classes, I come in early and stay late with my stunt group.

I have to maintain exceptional grades to earn the right to follow my passion to cheer. In the middle of all of this, I bump into you rushing to practice. You notice I seem a little overwhelmed. You take a moment to ask if I am ok? You already know the answer. You let me vent and share my frustrations and then you look me in the eye and tell me that you know I can push through this challenging time. Right on cue, as expected, you don’t throw me a pity party and you tell me to suck it up and push through and give it your best. Why are you still so mean?

 

Fast Forward…

It’s finally over. The final award ceremony has concluded. It’s time to make some exciting but challenging life decisions. It is now time to decide how I am going to spend the next four years of my life. When I make my decision and my announcement. I notice you are there right by my side. You are crying again, and I am not sure why. I still remember you yelling at me to make sure my arms were straight and my toes were pointed. You never gave up on me and insisted I always do my best.

I share that I ended up in the top 10 percent of my graduating class. My parents are trying to figure out how to get rid of all the medals jackets and accolades I have earned under your tutelage. You look at me with tears in your eyes and make me promise I will continue to work my heart out.

I am little older and wiser now. I have the opportunity to look back upon my amazing journey. I smile at the thought of your agonizing task of coaching 18 tiny and mini cheerleaders. I honestly can’t believe you put that much passion into us. I remember you calling me out when I was not doing my best. I remember the time you took in the hallway to make sure I was ok and you cared enough to share that you believed in me and knew I could push through.

After all these years, I think I get it now. I realize your love for me and finally know what you MEAN.

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The Importance of Strong Mentors and Culture

In the first few chapters of Welcome to Mintland,  it was important to share the culture Peppermint was surrounded by. In the first few pages, I share the legacy of the 8 time World Champion Stingray Allstars Orange. In youth sports, it is important to have people to look up to. This Mini team each had their favorite teams in the gym, but the positive culture starts and ends with watching and being surrounded by the Orange team legacy.

The success of Orange has built a culture of keeping your head down, working hard to do your best, staying humble and believing in yourself. The legacy that hovers around the gym is a strong force you can feel. Not only by the current Orange teammates but also the Alumni that enter the building  and follow the team on social media. It helps drive all of the teams in the building. It is why I firmly believe the success of the gym will be driven by building the legacy of not only Orange, but all of the Worlds teams at the Stingray Allstars. Having strong mentors in life is a very powerful force. When you have multiple mentors to look up to and pair that up with an incredible leader or coach, magnificent things can happen. Peppermint was fortunate enough to be surrounded by multiple teams that were lead by fantastic leaders who extracted the most out of their athletes. To build an incredible team at the beginning of a new year, the expectation and bar needs to be set and understood by all.Mintwatching Orange Rays

Earning the right to watch the Stingray Allstars Orange Practice

Peppermint was fortunate enough to be surrounded by multiple teams that were fantastic leaders and mentors, including their own coaching staff. The acceptance of a work hard and “do your best” culture is significant in building powerful relationships and bonds that will last a lifetime. It is why I firmly believe that the relationship between Peppermint and the 2015 World Champion Stingray Allstars Peach was so strong.

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The 2015 Cheersport Champions Stingrays Peppermint and Peach 

 

In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of being successful in life is being surrounded by incredible mentors that have built a strong positive culture. This is one of the first life lessons I wanted to establish in the book.

Over the course of the next few blog posts, I will continue to outline the many life lessons in Welcome to Mintland in sequential order.  How has a positive culture or mentor shaped your life? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories.