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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post is a fantastic overview of how Summit works. This also put into perspective how incredible the run of the MinnieMintsandMickey actually was. This 2015 journey to the Summit was the inspiration of Welcome to Mintland Hope you enjoy!
In a follow-up to my previous post If you are in Business…NEVER hire an Allstar Cheerleader I wanted to discuss a topic that was talked about as the blog was shared. More than a few times the word “Cheerlebrity” came up. It is a fair assertion and a topic that needs to be addressed. It is no secret that there are a few Cheerlebrities out there that represent the sport of Allstar Cheerleading. Just as with any sport there will be a few athletes that shine or are more popular with others.
The word “Cheerlebrity” is one that most of the kids that have adopted the moniker desperately try to lose. Most of the time, they did not ask for the “fake fame”. There are a few that fan the flames and beg for the attention, but that is the exception, not the rule. I guess my point is, for every Cheerlebrity point flyer, there are tens of thousands of team players that want to make lifetime memories with their team and work together to hit that routine. As we teeter dangerously by dangling an unrealistic goal for everyone to be a Cheerlebrity we lose the focus on what makes Allstar cheer so special. The special word I am referring to is”teamwork”.
The Grape Rays = Teamwork
Most will tell you, the only people on a squad that qualify for the term “Cheerlebrity” are the coaches who masterfully coordinate and press for excellence to get the most out their team. What you will find, is that the coaches will then deflect all of the kudos to the kids that make up that team. The infinite circle that defines greatness is an unbreakable force of love and culture that exudes when a team gels and accomplishes incredible things together. When that happens, the memories created on that team are unbreakable. I guarantee if you ask a Summit Champion or World Champion AllStar how many Instagram or Twitter followers a teammate had 5 years after they won, they will not know or care.
In any sport there are some that are more popular than others. We know them well. Micheal Jordan, Kobe Bryant numerous NFL, MLB superstars and don’t get me started on College Football. The point is, the athletes are nothing without a supporting cast around them.
For those who snub their nose at the Cheerlebrity, remember they are people too. Be the bigger person and respect the effort they put into the sport, they deserve it. Most use the title to do good and are role models for our children whether we like it or not. Take the time to explain the life lesson to those around you and build a culture of positivity.
Below is a response to one of the comments from my previous blog post. I think it applies here.
In the business world, we have another word for Cheerlebrities they are sometimes called CEO’s sometimes Managers, sometimes they actually fit into the rank and file. Whatever happens, it’s all ok. Hopefully, they turn into leaders or contributors of some sort. The important thing is to take the attributes of what they do on the mats and be productive in their lives moving forward. Thank you for you contribution to the conversation. I agree, not everything is peaches and cream. ~ Eric Moran
At the end of the day, the people that matter most in your life will be the ones that help create life long memories. Think about it, QUICK, name the last World Champions in the Large All Girl senior 5 division. Can you do it? Did you have to Google it? How about Large Coed? Senior Medium? Senior Small Coed? (Ok, that one may be easy) but you get my point!
Now, I challenge you to remember your favorite teacher from grade school. Who was your best friend growing up in your neighborhood? Who is your favorite cheer coach? Who is the friend that helped you through one of your most challenging moments in your life? I am assuming you can rattle them off immediately.
The most important people in your life are the ones you surround yourself with day in and day out. They are the ones who will be in your wedding. They will be the ones who you grow up with and share special memories with. They are your crew, not the people on an iPhone screen half way across the US.
The 2014-2015 Peppermint Rays making lifetime memories
The more we as a community push the issue of “Unless you become a “Cheerlebrity”… you are Worthless…” we create a dangerous culture for Allstar Cheer. Be the teammate that leaves a positive culture for those to flourish behind you. Leave the legacy you want others to follow! Make sure you are easily memorable for those in your circle for years to come.
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.
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.
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.