Welcome to MintLand Review- From Dana Burkey

Hey everyone! Welcome to Mintland is officially one year old this week!!! As I reflect on the growth of the mini team that could, I can only smile as it has been quite a journey. This morning when I woke up, I noticed a tweet from author Dana Burkey. To my surprise, she did a review of Welcome to Mintland and did a great job summarizing the essence of the book. I was honored she took the time to read it, and floored that she completed a review. I know many of the Mint alumni are going to love seeing this review.

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Some of you may have heard about Dana’s amazing fiction series about the Allstar Cheerleading team TNT Force Cheer. The first book Learning to Fly is a fantastic read and as a father of a daughter who loves to read, I can tell you she absolutely loved it! I encourage everyone to check out the series. The second book is Reaching the Summit  she also has two more books Center Stage and Top of the Worlds to round out the series.

This series an extremely fun read for fans of Allstar Cheer. You can view the entire series along with her other great works HERE .

We all know that Allstar Cheerleaders don’t like to read. Remember that quote? If you don’t I can  refresh your memory by having you read  THIS

Here is the Welcome to Mintland Review from Author Dana Burkey!

Thanks Again Dana!!!

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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.

Helping the Flood Victims in Louisiana one book at a time.

As we all know, Louisiana has been ravaged by floods as the area was hit with unprecedented rains that exceeded over 25 inches in 48 hours. I’ve seen limited news coverage on this event but was learning the extent of the flooding via social media. As I was scrolling through twitter. I stumbled upon something that hit me directly. One of the local Allstar Cheerleading teams Louisiana Cheerforce located in Baton Rouge posted a gofundme page for all the athletes and parents affected by the flooding. My heart sank as an emotional plea the cheer gym reached out to our cheer community. As I read the gofundme page I wanted to do something to help.

The thought of the families struggling to cope with the devastation of piecing their lives together is unimaginable. We would like to think that the last thing on everyones mind in a tragedy like this would be Allstar cheerleading. To children, unfortunately, that is not the case. Many in the Allstar cheerleading community understand that being with your teammates and friends in your home away from home with your coaches is normalcy.

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That being said,  as I mentioned earlier I wanted to help. What I would like to do is donate ALL REVENUES made from book sales of Welcome to Mintland in the next 30 days to this cause. I wrote this book to make sure the story of childhood dreams and perseverance when faced with adversity, were shared with all. I know that this will not make even the slightest dent in the help needed in Louisiana, but if we can help give a little bit of hope by sharing the amazing story of the 2015 Stingray Allstars Peppermint while raising a few dollars to help flood victims get back to normal. I am all for it! I know the team that was featured in this book would love to know that their story could potentially help others. My hope is to raise funds while inspiring a few people or cheer teams by reading about a Mini Allstar Cheerleading team that achieved their dreams by overcoming challenges in the road. It only seems fitting.

If you are reading this and have a friend who Cheers or know someone who would love to read a fun story about Allstar Cheerleading I would be honored if you share this info with them.

Here is a brief trailer for the book.

If you would like to learn more about the book, or purchase a book for the cause you may do so here : Welcome to Mintland 

 

Remember all proceeds over the next 30 days from book sales will go straight to Louisiana Cheerforce GofundMe page. Hopefully, this will be a Win/Win for all involved.

If you feel compelled to donate directly to the gofundme page you can do so HERE

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we are praying for all victims of Louisiana flooding.

Welcome to Mintland Site Launch

The number one request I’ve had over the past couple of months is how is the team doing, or where are they now?  I have done my best to keep up with the team and sharing stories and updates but unfortunately, the information has been all over the place.

Between the Welcome to Mintland FB page HERE, the Blog (You are currently reading) my YOUTUBE channel and my twitter handle, information was kind of tough to find. I wanted to let everyone know I have finally got around to creating a site where you can access all the information you would like about the team.

I have included some special parts of the season I was not able to share in the book. Including the video I created for the team before they went to Summit . I also included a video of Peppermints final performance together as a team at the Summit finals along with the book trailer explaining Welcome to Mintland. I have also included a ton of pictures that were cut from the book.

Ok i’ll stop rambling you can find the new site HERE. I hope you enjoy!

Remembering your moment in time in Allstar Cheer.

It is so great to have many of the Mintland crew back together on teams at Stingrays. I know a few of the original Mint crew are scattered amongst a few different teams and it is amazing to watch them blossom and grow. Since most of what happened in Welcome to Mintland happened at such a young age for most of them, it got me thinking. Do they remember that time? Will they remember the connections? Will they understand the scope of what they accomplished? Will they remember including everyone in the fun and the little things that made that team so unique? That is what made our moment in time so special. We will never get that moment in time back again.
 
It has been so fun to see the leadership and relationships from our time blossom and show up on all of our current teams. This week has been especially fun, as I am noticing the kids maturing and their personalities are really beginning to shine. I am noticing our Mints encouraging others when they are struggling. I am watching teammates pick each other up emotionally when things are not going their way. I see teammates ecstatic when one of their teammates learns a new skill. Basically, what I am saying is I am seeing  the pieces that made the original Welcome to Mintland team so special happening again. What makes the culture so fun is that they are sharing and including others in it. That is what it is all about. 
 
I personally had a moment this week that touched me. It was simple, no one noticed it except my wife sitting next to me (who was hitting me because she though I was instigating it) but it gave me hope that they will remember their moment in time.
Let me explain. In between stunt drills at practice, a few of our goof ball Minnie Mints currently on another team aka: “usual suspects” saw me sitting up in the fishbowl at Stingrays like I always do. (I will not release the current team or the names to protect the innocent as they should have been paying attention to their coaches:) .
They were attempting to get my attention and began to do some silly things. To most, it was probably just normal funny things kids do with downtime. To me, it was a reminder of the connection we had. It was some of the silly things we used to do backstage waiting to go to warm ups or while waiting for awards. I will not release exactly what was done, as break dancing and knocking out killer dance moves during practice is not Stingray policy :).  It was a little gesture, but it meant the world to me. They remembered the fun and more importantly, the place in time.Mint Xmas
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Growing Up and Making New Friends as Red Rays at Summit 2016
This is a tough time of year in allstar cheer. Teams are trying to learn the routine and downtime can be challenging while coaches figure out what is best. It was neat to see them make the most of it, and include a few other new team members in the moment. I was very flattered that they thought to include me. 
The jackets and medals in competition are nice but the connections and remembering the special moment in time during the grind of summer is what each allstar cheerleading season is all about. I am going to predict some very amazing things from our Mintland crew this year. They will continue the Mintland culture and tradition and be amazing because they are.
Many of the youth teams have figured out their goal for this year. It is a big one, it spread like wild fire once they figured out this “special thing” has never been done before. Will any of the youth teams achieve their goal? We will just have to wait and find out…..
 

Why Allstar Cheerleaders are Really Really Weird.

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.

TEAMWORK

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.

WORK ETHIC

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.

HUMILITY

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.

FOCUSED

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.

MULTI-TASKERS

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.

CLOSERS

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.

 

 

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!