I’m a cheer mom. Now, if you’re assuming that most cheer moms are blinged-out and surrounded by a cloud of hairspray with a purse full of hair ties and bobby pins, you’d be right. I know every word of their music and by the end of some competitions I have zero voice from all the screaming for my girl. But not all cheer moms are like what you see on TV.
When I first started out as an All Star cheer mom, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea that cheerleading was an actual sport besides what I saw at football games. I knew that cheerleaders wore big bows, lots of lipstick, and if they were anything like some of the people I went to high school with, they used their pom-poms as a social status and emotional weapons.
But that’s not true. Here’s just a peek at what cheerleaders really love to do:
Those babies bleed, bruise, sprain…and they keep going, all with a smile and without smearing their lipstick.
I remember the first day my daughter Abby walked out onto the mat like it was yesterday. I called Byron from the gym and said, “This is what she was made to do.” I had never seen my sweet, shy, quiet, go-with-the-flow girl light up like she had on that day.
Competitive cheerleading has done more for my daughter than almost anything else in her life. It has taught her discipline, team work, and to work well under pressure. She has made life-long friends, developed leadership skills, and girl is RIPPED like you wouldn’t believe.
But being involved in competitive sports doesn’t come without sacrifice, challenges, and really hard work from both the athlete and their parents. There are some crucial things I believe every parent should be willing to learn to do if they’re considering jumping – or in our case, tumbling – into competitive sports:
LEARN TO WORK EXTRA
Club sports can be EX-PEN-SIVE. In our case, All Star cheerleading can be upwards of $8,000 per year or more. Our uniform alone is always between $500 and $1,000 by the time it’s all said and done. Yes, you read that right!!
You should be prepared to get a paper route, add income to the family, and/or hustle and work that fundraiser gig. Many programs have Booster Clubs as a means of raising money to slim down on costly travel and team expenses.
LEARN TO BE POSITIVELY SUPPORTIVE
I have been so guilty of seeing my daughter when she comes off the mat and peppering her with questions like, ‘why did they fall,’ or ‘what deductions were there?’
My daughter has about 5 regular coaches. She doesn’t need me to be another coach. I’m there for support, encouragement, and to be the taxi. When it comes to talking shop, I leave the talking up to my daughter. The most important thing that I can say to her is, “I just love watching you.” It’s 100% true and it covers everything. It covers triumphs, mistakes, and almost all the questions I ever have about why a stunt fell or what that little twisty thing she does is. If I have questions about why we are doing something or what the scoring strategy is for a certain routine, I meet with her coach one-on-one, away from the competition setting.
LEARN TO BUILD COMMUNITY
Make friends with the other families in the sport, if for no other reason than the practice schedule can get crazy and one day you’re going to need someone else to take your athlete to practice because #momlife.
I had a tough time with this to start (and sometimes I still do) because I’m pretty shy. But as I’ve traveled with these families and as our girls have become friends, I’ve realized that no truer words have been spoken when they say “it takes a village” when it comes to competitive sports. The families I’ve met in cheerleading look out for my daughter and support her, and I’m so proud to be part of a program that expects nothing less than positive reinforcement and ZERO drama.
LEARN TO COMMIT
You have to commit when it requires. Any parent of a competitive athlete will tell you that your life is not your own when it comes to club sports. Especially in cheerleading, we can’t fully execute our routine if even one person is missing.
Be ready for an aggressive practice schedule, be ready to travel, and if it’s a fall sport, be ready to have very little free time in the summer. This is a few years out of your life to fully commit to what your kid loves. If they’re truly passionate about it, the time is worth it.
LEARN TO LET GO
You have to be willing to let go of your love of the sport. Fortunately for me I couldn’t tell you the difference between a “Texas T” and Texas Toast because I know very little about cheer, but maybe you were a competitive athlete in the same sport your kid is showing interest or already competing in. But what if they lose interest? What if an injury or an uncontrollable factor keeps them from playing?
As a parent I feel that I’m responsible for encouraging my kids to pursue their own passion and what makes them happy; not what I’m passionate about. If I forced my kids to do what I’m passionate about, we’d all be drinking wine and watching Disney movies all day, and that’s just legal or healthy.
No matter what sport you and your kids are considering, always remember that victory is in so much more than placement. Victory is in proving that hard work pays off. It’s about building character and finishing strong no matter how the race begins. It’s about pushing to your limits and then realizing those limits never actually existed. Victory is about community and team spirit, having class and learning that success and creating something you’re proud of comes from inside of you and not a number on the scoreboard.
I am so proud of my daughter; she’s so good at what she does. But more than being proud of her, I have one mission as a competitive cheer mom: I’m going to do everything in my power to do this one thing and that’s to hear her say, “I’m proud of myself.”