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.

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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

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!