The Letters

I am very excited to announce my first published book, The Letters:

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Switching Gyms

It’s that time of the season where the lobby is buzzing and the rumors are swirling. Who’s switching gyms? Who’s going where? What gym is going to have which team? Could the grass really be greener down the street?

Truth be told, there are legitimate reasons to change gyms and as a customer, it is your choice on who you give your business to. However, there are also important things to keep in mind when doing your research as to stay or to go. Every gym has issues and you will never find a perfect gym, a perfect coach, or a perfect team. Often, the lessons that can be most beneficial in the long run are lessons of longevity, growth and development. Nothing in the world, including cheerleading, is a quick fix.

Before deciding to stay or go, here are 3 things to really consider.

The level of training
There is no magic formula or gym size that can create a championship team. Small facilities with the bare minimum essentials can produce the same quality of training as a larger facility with multiple floors and rooms. Regardless of physical size, not all gyms can provide the same level of training needed for all athletes.

I owned a small gym for years and our highest level team was a level 4. I had a gymnast come in and cheer for one season on our level 4 team with a double full. I knew we would be unable to have a level 5 team the following season, so I gave her and her parents an introduction to another gym in our town that had a level 5 world’s team. Of course I didn’t want to lose an athlete, but I also didn’t want to hold an athlete back from being on a team that was appropriate for her skill level. A gym owner has a duty to their athletes to be honest about the level of training and teams that they are able to provide. This does not mean that if your child makes a level 2 team and you think your child should be on a level 3 team that you should switch gyms. This means, that it’s perfectly acceptable to search for a program that can offer your child a team that matches your child’s skills.

Every child progresses at a different pace and comparison truly is the thief of joy. Enjoy your child’s milestones and progressions, even if they seem to happen slower or faster than other athletes. Your child does not need to move up a level every year. Your child does not need to have any skill by any certain age. As long as you are at a program that can provide you with the level of training your child needs, let your child develop through proper coaching.

Not winning is not a reason to switch gyms. Not having the opportunity to win is.
Learning to lose can be one of the most valuable lessons a child can take away from youth sports. Some of the greatest teams in the country, level 5 worlds’ teams, can go an entire season and not win a single competition. Does this negate their skill set? Does this negate the coaching ability or level of training at that gym? No, it means that their athletes are in a competitive division, with a competitive routine and their coaches have given them every opportunity possible opportunity to win.

Now, take a team that is placed in a division that is too high for them- where the skill level of the team is outmatched by competing teams in the same division. Or the level of routine choreography and music are outdated. The skills in the routine aren’t level appropriate and enough to hit the score sheet. This is an example of a team that doesn’t have an opportunity to win.

Every gym has building and rebuilding years. One off season doesn’t equate to jumping ship. However, the coaches should be well educated, up to date on what’s going on in the industry, and setting their athletes up to succeed by placing them in the correct age and skill appropriate divisions.

No gym, no coach, and no program can ever guarantee a win or a winning season. However, every coach, gym, and program should be able to provide an opportunity to win by placing teams in appropriate and realistic competitive divisions that will give them a fighting chance at an opportunity to win.

The greatest reason to consider changing programs and also, the most simple, comes down to your child. Is your child happy? Not you, but your child. This isn’t about you. It’s not about if you like the other parents, if you like the coach, if you want your child on a higher level team, or if you want to win more. You will never find fulfillment in youth sports, for you or your child, if you chase trophies. The fulfillment comes from having a happy child who is growing and learning from a sport that he/she loves participating in.
I once had a mother tell me she was pulling her child from my program because she wanted to go to a gym where they could win and she didn’t think my program ever would. The child was 11. She was happy, she loved coming to practice, she was learning, she had the opportunity to be on a team that would further her skills. They left. A year later, my gym beat the team they left to be on. A year after that, she quit cheer because she no longer enjoyed it.

Don’t ever let winning cast a shadow on your child’s joy. Trophies end up in storage containers, happy memories are the true gift that a parent gets to share with their child through youth sports.
You can always buy a new uniform, but you can never buy back the time you get to spend with your child. 10 years from now it’s not going to matter if it took your child 6 weeks to get a back handspring or 2 years.

It’s not going to matter what name was on the uniform, it will matter what lessons were learned in it. Appreciate youth sports for what they are and hold perspective on what really matters in the long run.

Perserverance builds the character

It’s really easy to let defeat make you want to give up. But it’s so importantly to fail and learn what it feels like to lose.

One of the greatest lessons a coach can teach a child is to lose with grace and humility, and then keep going and try again. So many people try to shield their children from knowing loss and defeat- but no matter how hard you try- sooner or later, children will fail at something. And if children can learn how to accept failure as a speed bump in the road- and not a stop sign, then they will be able to use perseverance throughout their life to overcome obstacles as they get older.

Children can often learn a lot more from being on the losing team, than the team that always wins.

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Choose your words wisely

So true… It is so much easier to build up a young child and to fill a child with confidence than to repair and adult that has been broken down repeatedly over years.

Sticks and stone may break bones, but words truly do leave a lasting scar.

Choose your words wisely- as sometimes the simplest things end up sticking with people for a lifetime.

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July 27th will always be such a special day to me.

Amongst many other things, it is the day that I finally opened the door to Shine Athletics in 2007.

Shine Athletics is one of the greatest chapters of my life.

From the outside looking in, you could never understand it. From the inside looking out, you could never explain it.

But I’m going to do my best to try.

Celebrate the past, look forward to the future

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating where you came from.

It’s not a big deal to wear a hat or shirt from your old college team- even though you’re not in college anymore- so why should it matter if you post a picture, quote or keep a sticker on your car of something you were once a part of?

It doesn’t mean you still live there or even want to go back- it means the memories that you have were meaningful and that where you’ve been has impacted where you are today.

Turning Business Away

I will never understand a business who turns business away due to the fact that the customer is a “member” somewhere else.

In cheerleading, I know multiple gyms that refuse service to kids/athletes/families that are team members at other cheerleading gyms. A child wants to take a private tumbling lesson or tumbling class at ABC Allstars but is on a competitive team at XYZ Allstars.

The mindset behind turning this athlete away is that ABC gym doesn’t want to train a rival gyms athlete… However, ABC gym is missing out on an opportunity to market their gym, make money, and build a relationship.

It’s just sour business to refuse service to someone because they are a member somewhere else and frankly, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

If you’re that worried about “making a rival athlete too good” then you’re not spending enough time making your business the best!

It would be like publix telling all Costco members they aren’t allowed to shop at Publix since they have a membership at Costco…. Even though publix would clearly still be making a profit off of them.

Business is business and the next time someone asks to take a private lesson or class at your business while they are a member of another program- look at it as a COMPLIMENT and an OPPORTUNITY. 

Hero Parenting

Every child’s biggest hero/ role model is in fact their parent.

I don’t understand the parent that snaps at a waitress in front of their child, talks trash about their child’s teacher to their child, or yells at their child’s coach in front of the team…

Parents set the tone for how their child learns to handle conflict and disagreements.

By demeaning others and being disrespectful… What kind of example are you leaving?

Remember- little eyes are always on you.

Be the person you want your child to grow up to be… Set a good example.

Don’t build a team, build a program – Gym Owners

The biggest mistake most cheerleading gym owners make is that they focus on building a team instead of a program.

Your program should be a pyramid- built strongest from the bottom up.

If your only focus is on having a top heavy level 5 team- your priorities are all wrong.

It can create immediate success for your program, but you will never be able to grow and sustain a program this way.

Strive for long term success by building your program from the ground up.

Create a long term vision for your program and make your Mini 1’s into a Senior 5.