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Hammering Out Travel Arrangements

Hammering Out Travel Arrangements - October 15, 2018

Competitions are stressful. 


But stress isn't always a bad thing! It can help boost brainpower and improve memory, make you more resilient, and motivate you to succeed. But the stress to perform your heart out is ENOUGH. You don't need the additional stress of getting to the competition. There's good news, though! You can ease the stress of traveling and in some ways, prevent it completely!



Like any goal, the best thing to do is break it into stages: Packing, Planning, Finalizing, and Go-time! 


Packing


Pack light! By minimizing unnecessary travel clutter, you leave room for souvenirs! Pack your uniform, your poms… all of the essentials for the competition. Maybe pack one or two “civilian” outfits, depending on how long you'll be away. If you're going to be away from home for an extended period of time, coordinate your outfits wisely: pick tops and bottoms that can be interchanged with one another to maximize your suitcase storage space. You still gotta pack your uniform!



Snacks are important, but try not to load up on sodium...as tempting as potato chips may be. You don't want to feel bloated and gross on stage or the sidelines. Not only that, sodium makes you thirsty, and while you do want to stay hydrated, you don't want to ask the driver to stop at every exit for a restroom break. 



Don't forget your smart phone and charger. Who would want to leave their right arm at home? Not only will it replace games, books, and other entertainment, freeing up space and keeping the squad sane, it is essential for finding the best route and cheapest gas stations.


Consider getting a gift for your driver, whether they're your coach, parent or an older sibling. Some useful gift ideas include: their favorite snack/candy (provided it's easy to eat on the go, and doesn't make a mess); a playlist for the road; sunglasses or car fresheners!


Planning


This stage is critical. Some competitions won't even let you register without having your travel plans locked down! Where do you need to be and when? Plan to be at least 10 minutes early everywhere, except the airport. For that, you want to be at least a full HOUR early.


If the squad isn't traveling together, be sure everyone knows where the rendezvous points are and get everyone's phone numbers ahead of time. Maybe even create a group chat with your squad--or at least one member from each car. While this important information should be texted and/or emailed, it isn't a bad idea to also print it out in case of bad service or dead batteries. 


Another piece of information that wouldn't hurt to include: license plate numbers. Hopefully you won't ever need them, but if anything bad were to happen, license plate numbers could be critical in locating your team. 


If you've done this particular competition before, don't be afraid to take advantage of previous travel plans and the information you already have at hand. Be aware of your budget and plan accordingly.



Finalize


Buy the tickets. Print the route. Pack your bags. Fill up the tank. It's nearly go-time... 



Go-Time!


You've done everything you can, the only thing left to do is stay alert and cross your fingers. Try to keep your stress level down (your careful planning will help here!). Get a good night's sleep the night before so that you're ready for anything. There WILL be hiccups!



But you got this. 


Happy travels!  



[Source: Giphy]


How Cheerleading Helps You Achieve Other Goals

How Cheerleading Helps You Achieve Other Goals - September 25, 2018

With a new season underway, cheerleaders everywhere have goals on the brain: a higher basket toss, a more complex tumbling pass. These goals don’t just last a season, though! Cheer experience lives on and off the mat, and the skills you develop on your squad can help you achieve goals for years to come, from getting a job to living your best life. Here are just a few ways your cheer resume helps you check boxes off your to-do list.




 

You Understand Healthy Competition

Cheerleading competitions are different from any other sport in that sportsmanship always comes first. Cheer culture is congratulating other squads on their impressive basket tosses and then going back to practice to figure out how your stunt group can get that kind of height. Yes, victory is exciting, but constantly being challenged to improve and develop your skills is the core of the sport, and a positive attitude is what makes athletes cheerleaders.

Healthy competition is a way of life, and one that many folks struggle with. All too often, competition gets out of hand and turns into aggression, jealousy, or spite. This is not the cheer way. Cheerleaders learn on and off the mat how to respect competing squads, to learn from the competition experience, and to perform under pressure with positivity.  Yes, you want your squad to be the best, but you want to bring home a trophy because you did the best work you could, not because another squad’s stunt group fell or another cheerleader sustained a tumbling injury. Good sportsmanship and a desire to continue improving will make you a healthy competitor throughout your life, and with that attitude, no goal will be out of your reach.



 


You Can Get Up Earlier

If Competition Day has taught you anything, it’s how to get up, get ready, and get out the door early in the morning. Put your cheer experience to work to get your everyday schedule working for you. Rolling out of bed even twenty minutes earlier than usual can help you to wake up and get your ducks in a row with time to spare before the bus arrives.

Making time for a healthy breakfast is scientifically smart if you want alertness and energy all day (spoiler: you do), and starting your morning with a glass of water kick-starts healthy hydration. Sleeping in is awesome, but getting up early and getting work done paves the way for success and achieving your goals. Also, extra time to you get your ponytail just-so and your winged eyeliner razor-sharp? Yes, please.


 


You Can Communicate—and Lead

Cheer is all about communication, a back-and-forth between squad and crowd. Take your I-got-this communication skills to the classroom, the office, and anywhere and everywhere in between. Ask questions and jump in to answer questions. Don’t be afraid to volunteer. Raise your voice, and people will respond positively and be in your corner.


It’s not just the sidelines or the mat where cheerleaders are in charge. You can find opportunities everywhere to become a leader in your school, workplace, and community. Organize a clothing drive, write for the school paper, tutor a classmate, run for student council, run for president...at least throw your hand in the air when you know the answer! A lot of people want to get involved and make a difference but don’t quite know how to start. As is cheer nature, you lead by example. When you go first and strike out with confidence, others can’t help but follow. Leaders make things happen. Cheerleaders make things happen, but with spirit. Your goals will practically achieve themselves when you step up and take charge.



[Source: Giphy]

Other Roles Cheerleaders Play at Pep Rallies

Other Roles Cheerleaders Play at Pep Rallies - September 4, 2018

What’s the first thing anyone thinks of when they imagine a pep rally? The CHEERLEADERS! A pep rally just wouldn’t be a pep rally without the squad leading the cheers from the sideline. But besides the obvious, CHEERING, what other roles do cheerleaders play at pep rallies?


The Eternal Flame


Just like the Olympic torch, a cheerleader's pep must never be extinguished! It is not for the moment (of the pep rally), but for all time that a cheerleader embodies all the zing and pep her school deserves.



For those who don't know the behind-the-scenes magic, it's easy to think a pep rally appears out of thin air. But cheerleaders know better. Cheerleaders don't just work during the pep rally; you're working well before... and afterwards, too!


The most important part of prepping for a pep rally: picking a theme. Because of your large role in the pep rally, your squad might even get to pick it! If you do, be sure to choose something graphically interesting and obvious (neon, camouflage, “white-out”). This will make the whole rally cohesive and save time on decision making down the road. Check out this awesome glow idea:

Source


Once a theme is selected, there is so much work to be done! In the week or so leading up to the pep rally, you and your squad may also be in charge of organizing Spirit Week. This can be a lot of fun! Each day, there is a different theme for everyone at school to dress up and participate. 


Super hero day, red white & blue day (after all, pep rallies are a uniquely American phenomenon!), dress your best, throwback Thursday, flannel day - the key to a good spirit week is to pick themes that everyone at school can (at least kind of) throw together a look for. To really build up the crescendo to game day, have the very last day of Spirit Week coincide with the theme of the pep rally. Then the entire school will be on point for game day!


For the rally itself, cheerleaders often create any items that are needed for the rally, such as banners, balloons, or the ever popular spirit stick! It's the job of every cheerleader to hype up the whole school (and it's a lot easier when you've been hyping them up in advance!).



Source



After the rally - win or lose - cheerleaders keep the school spirit. Remember, it's about the work not the win! In addition to post-battle morale, cheerleaders are usually assigned clean-up duty after the rally, too. Maybe silly-string wasn't such a good idea...



Party Captain


During the rally, cheerleaders are not only the gorgeous face, but the ever-busy hands (and feet!). You will be the guardians of the rally, keeping everything on schedule, leading each game/speech/event into the next one smoothly. One might say cheerleaders are the captains of the ship... party captains!



You and your squad will coordinate a hundred moving pieces successfully. Classmates will pour into the stands – some on time, some not! The school band will have songs to play; try practicing alongside them during the weeks leading up to the rally for a coordinated performance. Of course your teachers will have plenty of motivating words to say,  but you can try to incorporate the staff into some of the fun activities, too! A dance or cheer where even your principal can participate...now that's something everyone will remember!



If pep rallies were parties, then cheerleaders would be the hosts. And like an actual full-course dinner party, lots of little dishes peppered throughout the pep rally will be appreciated by everyone. Each new segment will rejuvenate the crowd. Remember: if you cater to the person with the shortest attention span, then nobody will be bored!



BIGGEST Fan


Pep rallies are, when you get down to it, about the game. As the leaders of the pep rally, you'll probably be introducing the team. Why not learn a little bit about them? It's much more fun to announce “our school's resident Game of Thrones nerd” instead of “the left tackle.”


Some cheer squads will even make little gifts for the players. It can be as simple as homemade cookies, or as elaborate (but easy) as sports care packages, with jerky, foam footballs, or cards personalized with inspiring sports quotes.



Beacon of Positivity

We all know the guy who's too cool for school. For some reason, it's en vogue to be a downer. Maybe it's way easier to tear stuff down than build stuff up, and that's true of school spirit, too. As the cheerleaders of your school, it is your duty to be a paragon of energy, the champion of pep, who will triumph over negativity!



But don't try to actually fight negative people. Instead, remain a BEACON OF POSITIVITY! If you overhear someone complaining about “another dumb school event” don't hesitate to speak up! Talk about what you and the squad have planned for the pep rally, bring up your favorite memory from school so far, or reminisce about last year's pep rally. No one can resist a positive attitude!


[Source: Giphy]

Three Crafts for Team Parent Appreciation

Three Crafts for Team Parent Appreciation - August 21, 2018

Cheerleading takes a village! The cheerleaders are the star of the show, coaches are the directors, and team parents do everything else. Team parents are the unsung heroes of the cheerleading community. These parents carpool, bring snacks, arrange fundraising, collect money, and honestly do all the grunt work no one else wants to do...AND they don’t even get paid for it! To show our appreciation to all those team parents out there, here are some crafty ideas to show some love to our unsung heroes.



1) COFFEE Mugs!


Buy a few ceramic cups with lids.  You can find these online or even at the dollar store. 






Additional Supplies


I love DIY and I have tried both the glitter dipped mug and the sharpie mug. For a team parent as hard working as yours, they probably deserve both! Pick yourself up a pack of sharpies, some glitter, a paint brush, masking tape, and some Mod Podge.  I found all 5 items in the dollar section at Target.    



Using sharpie write any saying or draw a fun design onto the ceramic cup. You can use stencils or freehand a design. Once you are satisfied with your final product,  preheat your oven to 350 degrees and cook your mug for 30 minutes. Leave the mug out to cool before adding any glitter.


Use masking tape, section off whatever design you would like onto the mug. Coat the designated section with Mod Podge and then add glitter. Give the glue and glitter some time to dry then go back and go over the glitter with more Mod Podge, let glue dry, and apply an additional coat of Mod Podge over the glitter. You may need to repeat this step a few times. It does take a full 28 days for the Mod Podge to fully cure. If you don’t have 28 days, you can do without glitter, or inform your team parent that the mug is not dishwasher safe and should be hand washed. It might be nice to also include a bag off coffee or a gift card to their favorite coffee shop inside the mug! What better way to say thank you for all of their hard work?



2) Keepsake


If you had a team parent who went above and beyond for your team, you can create a really cute keepsake. Pick up a frame from your local craft store, use a team picture or cheer bow as your primary focus (or both like below).



Have all the cheerleaders on the team sign the mat around the picture or directly onto the bow. Place the image in a regular frame or if you are using a bow a shadow box fame. It is a great personalized keepsake as a way to say thank you--they're practically part of the team!



3) Care Package


Team parents do a lot for the team, so when creating a care package instead of packing a basket full of goodies, the team parent could have their own personalized cheer bag to match the team full of goodies. 


Some ideas to include in the care package could be: 


  • personalized blanket
  • blanket that matches the team colors
  • seat cushion for those long days of sitting on bleachers
  • gas or coffee gift card
  • reusable water bottle
  • cheer swag (like a pom or bow keychain)
  • Their favorite snacks or candies

A care package is a fun and easy way to personalize a gift for your favorite team parent! 


Here are a few cheer swag item ideas:


Chassé® Mini Glitter Bow Keychain




Cheer parents are a pivotal part of the team. Take some time and give a little something back to show your appreciation. No matter if it's a gift or a card, a fun cheer themed wreath for the front door, a personalized tee shirt, it will show your team parent the same love they've been giving you all season. You would not be where you are today without their help!

5 Ways to Get Fit and Into Cheerleading Shape

5 Ways to Get Fit and Into Cheerleading Shape - August 17, 2018

Photo from Pxhere


5 Ways to Get Fit and Into Great Cheerleading Shape

Written by: Sofia Lockett


Testing everything from cardiovascular endurance to muscle strength and flexibility, cheerleading is a truly comprehensive workout. If your cheerleading season is coming up, think about how best to get into optimal shape for tackling those intricate routines. 

Here are some easy, fun ways to prepare your body for what’s ahead, so you can turn up to your first training refreshed and ready to shake your pom-poms!


1. Take up dancing

If you’re interested in cheerleading, you probably already like to dance. If you don’t attend proper classes at a studio, now might be the time to enrol.

The dance sequences in most cheer routines tend to resemble the routines in hip-hop or aerobics classes, but even contemporary dance lessons or ballet will improve your choreography and body strength in a way directly applicable to cheerleading.



2. Increase your cardio and strength training

If you’re aiming to hit a particular weight target or gain muscle, cardio and strength training is the way to go. Both cardio and strength training help with calorie-burning.

Cardio doesn't have to be limited to weights and a yoga mat – go for a hike with your friends, take up cycling, attend dance classes. The style of cardio workout that suits you best will help create the calorific deficit that will facilitate weight loss for your unique body. Play around with it!


3. Review your diet

Always stay on the lookout for new ways to keep your lifestyle healthy so you won’t have to endure feeling “out of shape” for cheerleading in the future. Review your diet and make sustainable changes to benefit your health and wellbeing in the long-term.

Choose good fats from foods like olive oil, nuts, and fish, instead of saturated and processed products like butter and bacon. Reducing your alcohol or sugary-drink intake is another easy way to remove hundreds of calories per week from your consumption. Drink more water instead: it’ll be much more beneficial to your weight loss efforts.


4. Stretch

Flexibility is the biggest challenge for many cheerleaders, which is why investing your downtime into building up your range of motion is integral.


Flexibility in the straddle position is particularly important in cheerleading, so start with a wall straddle exercise to improve your middle-split. Follow it with a butterfly stretch and some seated toe touches. Always warm up your muscles before stretching: you don’t want to be left on the bench due to a pulled hamstring!


5. Do some at-home gymnastics

The backyard is the perfect place to practice and maintain all of your essential gymnastics and tumbling skills for cheerleading. Dedicating just twenty minutes a day for honing your cartwheels, handstands, and split jumps will really impress your coaches and fellow cheerleaders when you return for the new season.

If you’re keen on becoming one of your cheer team’s tumblers, you can take advantage of your family’s trampoline to improve your balance and practice your jumps. If you’re practicing at home, always make sure you have a reliable person to spot for you. 


In conclusion, a three-pronged training approach can help you improve your cheerleading skills: firstly, working on the stretches and skills required for your routines; secondly, enjoying other forms of exercise that will improve your form and endurance; and finally, caring for your body by choosing the best food to include in your diet. Using these tips, you can work hard, have fun, and become the best cheerleader you can be. 

 

 

Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from New Zealand. She is a fitness enthusiast and is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. You can read more of her articles on her Tumblr.

Getting Crafty for Spirit Week

Getting Crafty for Spirit Week - August 7, 2018

When Spirit Week comes around, who better to lead the trends than cheerleaders? If you’re looking for all-out style on a budget, have the DIY bug, or are simply looking for a way to get pumped for Spirit Week with your squad (Make Your Own Spirit Swag party, anyone?), here are some crafty spins on classic Spirit Week themes.

 

Patriotic Day: Ribbon Hair Elastics

Difficulty: Easy
Cost: $
Time: 10 minutes

If your theme of the day is Red, White, and Blue, incorporate patriotism the cheer way: with homemade ribbon elastics! For this project, you’ll need a hair elastic, scissors, and one or more spools of ribbon from your local craft store.

If you want to make a “fluffier” elastic, use ⅛- to ¼-inch ribbons in red, white, and blue, perhaps with a lacy or otherwise decorative style. Cut a 2-foot strip of each color ribbon, then tie the three of them around the elastic together (that is: one knot, not three ribbons tied individually). Bunch up each of the “tails” a few times to form the loops of the bow, so that you’ll have 6 loops (2 of each color) on either side of the knot. Hold all the loops in your hands and tie a bow. You’ll have a burst of loops and tails that will fluff out around your ponytail. If you want extra security, add a dot of hot glue to the initial knot before you tie your bow over it. Be sure to handle hot glue guns carefully, or with parent supervision, and allow the elastic to cool properly before wearing.

If you want to use ribbons that will hold their shape, or decorated ribbons (such as blue with white stars, or flag-patterned), ½- to 1½-inch ribbons have more structure and will show off the designs better than narrower ones. For the true “cheer bow” look, go for a 2-inch or larger ribbon. Cut a 2-foot strip of ribbon and knot it around the elastic at about the midpoint. Tie a bow on top of it. For added security, add a dot of hot glue to the initial knot before you tie your bow around it. For the “cheer bow” size, fluff up the ribbon and spritz it with a little hairspray to help it stand up. Let it dry before wearing.

 


Team Spirit Day: Spelling Shirts

Difficulty: Medium
Cost: $-$$
Time: 1 hour

Your Spirit Week may include a Team Day, where everyone wears clothing reflecting collegiate or professional sports’ teams, or School Spirit Day, where everyone wears clothing in your own school’s colors.  What better way to celebrate a team day than with your squad? Get everyone together and spell out your spirit!

Invite your squad to participate in a group spirit activity. Take a team trip to the craft store for tee shirts in your team’s color (preferably the darker color; for example, if your school colors are blue and white, get blue shirts) and decorations. How you decorate your shirts is up to you: fabric paint, rhinestones and hot glue, sewing on patches—the sky is the limit!

Everyone gets a letter, and you can spell out your team’s formal name and/or mascot. A bigger squad can spell out “Rancho Carne Toros,” while a medium-sized squad might only have enough members to spell out “Rancho Carne,” and a small squad may go for “Toros.” If you need a few extra letters to fit everyone, you can add “Go” before your mascot, or exclamation points after.





Pajama Day: An Old-Timey Night Cap

Difficulty: Medium-Difficult (requires sewing)
Cost: $$
Time: 1 hour

Pajama Day is all about the comfy tees and baggy pants, but it’s not always easy to integrate school spirit with your pjs. For a fun accessory that can incorporate school colors and/or mascots, make an old-timey nightcap—complete with pompom, of course.

Local craft stores often carry squares of pre-cut fabric, about ¼-yard. Pick out a solid-color square in your school’s color (or maybe a patterned fabric that includes your mascot, like lions or sharks), a pompom in another school color or a complimentary color (sparkles are always good!), and thread that matches both colors. You’ll also need a pair of scissors sharp enough to cut through fabric, a ruler, an iron, sewing pins, and tailor’s chalk. If you have a sewing machine, that’s great, but it’s a simple enough project to stitch by hand.

Start off by ironing out your fabric square, since it will have tons of folds in it when you first unwrap it from its packaging. You can measure the circumference of your head with a tape measure or just hold up the fabric to test it and make sure that the square will wrap all the way around. Once you’ve confirmed, fold the fabric in half, with the “inside” side of the fabric facing out, and iron it so that the fold is a nice, even crease.

Pin all the way around the fabric, including along the crease, to keep the two sides of your fold together. The pins should run parallel to the edge of the fabric and be no more than ½-inch from the edge. Lay down your ruler to connect from about the middle of the open side parallel to the crease, up to the point of the crease. Draw a line along the ruler using the tailor’s chalk, then pin the fabric below the line.

Cut along the chalk line. You can remove the pins from the smaller scrap piece and set that extra fabric aside. We now have the fold, the bottom, and the outer angle (the flat side and the diagonal cut together). Shift the pins along the outer angle so that they are perpendicular to the edge of the fabric instead of parallel. Sew the outer angle shut with a ½-inch seam, either by sewing machine or by hand.

When you are finished, press the seam. First you will open the ½-inch seam and iron it flat against the fabric, and then you will close the seam and iron it closed to one side. This will help the seam to lay flat inside your hat. For additional security, you can sew a zigzag stitch along the raw edge of the seam. You now have a triangular piece that can open up into a cone shape.

The bottom opening needs a little neatening up before you can wear your hat. Keep the hat inside out, and fold the very bottom of the hat in, so that you have a 1-inch cuff of the “outside” fabric. Measure to make sure it is 1 inch and pin the cuff to the hat all the way around, then iron it so that you have a nice crease at the opening.

Unpin the cuff and fold it in half, tucking the raw edge into the ironed crease. Iron along this new top crease and pin perpendicularly all the way around. Sew this top seam to the hat. This will hide the raw edge of the fabric, which can fray and tear, and gives your cap a finished look.

Turn your cap inside-out. You should now have a finished hat, and all that’s left to add is the pompom. Pin it to the tip of the cap and hand-stitch it from the inside out. Put your needle through the fabric from inside the cap, stitch through the pompom, bring your needle back through the fabric and inside your cap, and stitch around. Once you feel your pompom is secure, knot your thread and cut off any excess.

If you feel like being extra fancy, you can add additional embellishments to the cap, but otherwise, you are ready for Pajama Day (and a long winter’s nap)!


And finally...

If these ideas all sound just a little too complex, we've got an alternative for our less crafty inclined readers: take a pre-made bow and make it your own! We recommend something like this football cheer bow, which has a heart shaped football pin in the middle, while still leaving a lot of room for creativity. 

 

I Heart Football Hair Bow

Perfect for all the puffy paint lovers out there, this football bow is a perfect team bonding activity before the season starts. Cover it in initials, your favorite player's number, or other glue-on buttons you can find at your local craft store. 


Any crafty plans for Spirit Week? Be sure to share your tips and tricks!

The (Semi-Fictional) Evolution of Pee-Wee Cheerleading

The (Semi-Fictional) Evolution of Pee-Wee Cheerleading - July 31, 2018

Alright, folks...this one goes way back.



318 B.C. 


It's the age of the gladiator. Named for the swords they wielded, gladiators fought against man and beast in front of a roaring crowd. The voices of the common folk echoed in the Colosseum, but less well known throughout history, another voice lifted spirits and energized the crowd: Cheerleaders. 




In the Roman Empire, cheerleaders were right there in the pits alongside the fighters. But... without weapons. They had to survive and dodge the fights through killer kicks and high-flying maneuvering...much like today.




These young cheerleaders often used their fighting spirit for an alternate sport. For those people who didn't want to see gory deaths of the gladiators, there was another option. Under the hundreds of floors of the Colosseum lay dark, cool catacombs. Here, children would gather and re-create the battles they saw on the stage above. Only without death, blood, or gore. It became something more honorable than gladiator battles, and drew its own crowds, which included adults. These fights were pure sportsmanship. No death or injury was allowed. Instead of fighting lions, the winners of these pint-sized gladiatorial battles adopted stray kittens. 



These battles, these inspiring endeavors were known in the Latin (pig Latin) as Op-pay Arner-way. (Sound...familiar?) Courageous, young hearts won, lost and lived. The Pee-Wee's fighting spirit was just beginning. It somehow morphed...quite a bit within the coming years. 



Fast forward to...



1898 

The very first recorded cheer happened this year.


Legendary? Sure. But, the position of “yell leader” had a ways to go until it again rose to honor of its lost gladiatorial days. For some stupid reason, women still wouldn't be allowed to cheer for another 25 years.



Then...suddenly, Pee Wee Cheerleading emerges.


1938

We're a year after the very first Disney movie, Snow White, and also a couple years after cheerleading became a real, staple thing. Similarly, Pee Wee Cheer is exclusively between the ages of 5-16: the exact age of every fairy tale hero and heroine! Coincidense? We think not.


Once you hit 17, your chances of being transported to a magical world drop like Alice through the Looking Glass.



1968


The 70s are coming, and things are looking up for cheerleaders! We traded paper pom-poms for plastic and could now cheer, rain or shine. Women have usurped the men and are now solidly leading cheers. 

Pee Wee Cheer was hitting its stride as well. 


The youth group opened its own private school named Pigzits, located in London...Ohio. The teachers at Pigzits Pee Wees were able to assess children’s' natural abilities and selected only the best of the best to come and learn the magic of cheering at their castle-like school. 



1988


The 80s! 


Neon colors, giant hair, shocking makeup; the 80s was a decade of out-of-this-world outrageousness! Everything was over the top. 


This is decade in which cheerleading hit its stride. It was over the top...of your head. People were head over heels. Literally! And with the outpouring of 80s dance movies (Footloose, Grease, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun), Pee Wee Cheer started veering away from just sideline cheers and began focusing on rhythm, technique, and stunts. The first National Cheerleading Competition was held this year, and became just as popular as Pee Wee Football. 



2018


Today, 'Pee Wee Cheer' is a household name. People from all over America tune in to the “kiddie” Super Bowl, and hundreds of thousands of children try their absolute hardest and make it into the program. 

Due to kids' physical prowess, this year is the first ever year they will also be taught ninja skills alongside cheer. 


When you think about it. the skills of a ninja are actually very closely related to cheer. Flying is useful for getting to the tops of buildings. Bases and spotters are vital to not only get the flyers in the air, but also require strength, balance, and firm footing: all essential skills for a ninja. The Scorpion can be used to escape almost any kind of shackle. The Liberty Cradle can be used to kick enemies in the face before falling to safety. 



Cheerleading is kind of the Forrest Gump of the world, when you really think about it...it's connected to pretty much every major event.


Cheerleading: Is the Commitment Right for You?

Cheerleading: Is the Commitment Right for You? - July 26, 2018

Commitment: The State or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc…


Synonyms include: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty.



When you break it down, cheerleading looks a bit intimidating. Sure, it’s a sport. But like everything else in life, commitment is one quality that means so much. When it’s your passion, you don’t hesitate. You don’t think twice about jumping right in head first. When it’s your kids--well they typically are your passion and you would move mountains to see them happy.


Listen to me carefully: ALL sports require commitment. Not just on your athlete’s part, but yours as well. However, your part is different than theirs. It usually requires your time driving them to and from practices, games or competitions. It also typically requires you committing to putting your hand in your wallet and pulling out money.


Before you go any further, ask yourself if this is the right commitment for you and your family. Coaches and board members have this odd reputation of finding joy from the tears of a sad cheerleader. None of us want to see an athlete upset because they are being forced to finish out the season. It won’t only cause you all unnecessary stress--it stresses us out too. An unhappy cheerleader is a cheerleader that will not put in 100%. That hurts the team. On the other end, we hate having a cheerleader quit at a crucial point in the season. Again...unnecessary stress for entirely too many people.


Find out as many details as you possibly can. Hopefully your organization outlined all that they could for you before you signed on for the team. That outline is based on common questions asked from past years. There are just some things they won’t be able to answer. Respect their honesty. No question is a stupid question...unless it was answered 18 times and you keep pushing for a result that you like better.


In case not everything is outlined, here’s some vital questions you need to ask and then consider if this is the right fit:


Cost. 
How much is the season in total? What is included with the total cost? Are there payment options? Fundraiser options? 

  • There is usually one parent or coach in charge of ordering in bulk, or those who collect fundraiser dollars. If you have a genuine reason to think the money isn’t going towards what they claim, simply ask for a breakdown. I can tell you though, in most situations those fees are going to the right places.


Schedule.
  •  When are practices? What is the times and locations? Are there any additional classes they are expected to do like tumbling? Do they have a competition schedule? If not, ask for an estimate as to how many competitions? Approximately when will the first one be? How many require overnight stays? Is there a way to offset travel costs? 

Traveling
  • What are the rules for overnight stays? Do the cheerleaders have a curfew, will there be practices that they are required to go to? What is the anticipated mandatory length of stay? 

Expectations.
  •  Are you allowed to ask the coaches questions? Who is on the board and what position are they? (just so you are aware of the correct person to go to for future needs) How does the team communicate? Do they use an app, strictly email, phone, text?

  • Be mindful of your expectations as well. If you think cheerleading is just a fun babysitting service--you are wrong. They will be pushed, the coach will raise their voices at times, and they will be disciplined. No, your athlete won’t be hit or screamed at. Don’t mistake a raised voice for yelling. There is a purpose to the practices and I promise you, the end result will leave you beyond proud and questioning yourself for being mad that April was forced to do pushups for not listening.



Bullying

  • The bullying policies: Is there disciplinary action if your athlete is bullying another. Are there actions if YOU, the parent, are bullying another?

These are all very important things to find out. Most organizations hold the cheerleaders, coaches, board members and parents to the same standard. Bullying isn’t typically tolerated on any level. 

There is a lot of thought to committing, the future is unseen though. Sometimes there are obstacles that an organization or a team can encounter that has to be worked around. Stick it out, help where you can and try not to grab your pitchforks and enlist members to join your cause when something slightly inconveniences you. 24 hour cool down periods should be mandatory. Calm down, think before you speak or act and try to look at the situations from every single angle possible. I can promise you, if it’s something your athlete desperately wants, you won’t regret it. The hiccups, the times you were aggravated--they won’t matter. You’ll inherit a family and get to watch your pride and joy blossom into something you could have never imagined. 


The (Semi-Fictional) Backstory of the Megaphone

The (Semi-Fictional) Backstory of the Megaphone - July 23, 2018

The megaphone is one of the most recognizable icons of cheerleading. It is literally used to lead cheers!



But, how did the megaphone come to be? 


In its strictest definition, we've had the megaphone with us all along. Invented in caveman-times, and still fairly popular today, the first conical, portable voice amplification device ever discovered is just cupping your hands around your mouth and yelling. 




The megaphone we know today was invented and named by Thomas Edison, although at first he called it a telephonoscope. It wasn't until newspapers made fun of him that he changed it to the slightly less silly name we're stuck with now. 


Considering olden-day megaphones were called “speaking trumpets,” really any name was an improvement.


While today, Thomas Edison is considered a genius who invented half of everything, back in his time people loved to hate on him. The guy perfected the megaphone to help the hearing impaired and the press portrayed it as a way to creep on your neighbors. 


Even the light bulb had its critics. “Women look uglier in electric light!” 



A lot of Thomas Edison's inventions were directed toward helping the hearing impaired. Probably unrelated, Edison was himself hearing impaired. He actually had a chance to fix his hearing through surgery, but he turned it down. People annoyed him, and he didn't want to hear them any better than he already had to, he famously said (a little too loudly). 


Despite the haters, Edison became a revered historical figure, and the megaphone became an emblem of zing and pep. When was the last time you heard something uninteresting said from a megaphone? Exactly. Never. That is because, like his other 1,092 patented inventions, Thomas Edison's spirit haunts the megaphone to this day. 


The ghost of Edison demands that nothing boring shall pass through a megaphone. It's either fanning the flames of passion or saving people from a literal fire; there is no in between. Next Halloween, give this a try: convince your squad to try to say something boring with a megaphone. Watch as no one can get even halfway through an alphabetized list of laundry folding techniques before Thomas Edison's ghost makes his presence known... 




It is also due to his ghost's hard work that all electric megaphones use direct current and not alternating current, as one final act of spite towards his arch rival, Nicola Tesla. The telephone had better sales than the mega-better megaphone, and is not immune to the curse of Edison. If you use a megaphone through a telephone receiver, you will annoy the person on the other end. Why? The only reason could be the ghost of Thomas Edison. 



But...how did the megaphone come to be associated with cheerleading? 



It all started with Dominick Bell, also known as Quiet Dom. He was the cheer captain of his high school squad in 1890. He had more zing and pep than a hyperactive Labrador retriever has when its owner gets home...but he couldn't talk above a whisper. 


To get his team's attention, he incorporated back flips and front flips, before such feats were used as a part of cheerleading. His team was constantly impressed with his physical abilities, but when it came to chants and cheers, no one could hear him at all! Everyone knows cheerleaders need to be be loud and proud. He tried everything he could to increase his volume level – whistles, bells, and cymbals. These all gave him an extra boost of sonic energy, but didn't help in any situation that called for legible words. 



One day Dom was out in the streets with his aunt and heard a great booming thunder strike of a voice advertising a new type of hair cream. 


He was shocked to learn that a young girl of no older than 7 years old was shouting from the street corner, using some type of voice projecting cone. Intrigued by the strange conical device, he inquired to the girl and learned of where she might acquire this conical wonder. Two months later he received her shipment of one “mega-phone” from the local haberdashery. Thus, Dominick Bell became the first cheerleader to incorporate the voice magnifying piece of equipment into his routine. 


A few decades later, the famous gangster would use the same nickname, “Quiet Dom,” as a homage to the cheerleader that brought the megaphone into cheerleading.


What if Quiet Dom had never been so quiet? Maybe there would have never been the cheerleading megaphone...


[Source: Giphy]

Traveling Fails

Traveling Fails - July 20, 2018

We can all agree that even if you are headed for paradise, traveling is stressful. The planning is stressful, packing is THE WORST, and trying to navigate an airport is downright exhausting. Once you arrive you think the worst of it is over, but as many of us know when traveling anything and everything can happen especially when you are traveling with an entire cheer team! You really do live and learn when it comes to traveling with a cheer squad. When it comes to travel fails, I have made more than a few. 





Below are rookie traveling mistakes when traveling with your team: 



IT’S GONE!


Never! I repeat: NEVER EVER put your uniform in your check in luggage. Uniforms need to be in your carryon at all times. Even if it cost money, PAY IT! Luggage gets lost all the time. When you are away at competition you do not have days for the airport to try and recover your luggage that never made it on the plane or worse, got put on the wrong plane.


 If your uniform is in that lost luggage you will not be able to compete with your squad. There is nothing worse than traveling for a competition and then to not be able to compete because you luggage is lost. Don’t do it! 



Missed it by THAT much!


Arrive early, like, really early to the airport. Flying is not an easy process. At times the process can take hours: checking in, going through security, and getting to your gate. So arrive early, arrange carpools because there is always at least one person on the team who parent is always running late. Today they cannot be late, if they can't get their kid there on time, someone else has got to do it! Arrange a carpool if you're worried about a certain squad member being late. Missing your flight because it took longer than expected to check in, happens. 


Whatever you have to do to get your team there early? Do it.  




OH NO!


Congratulations! You have made it to your destination, which is no easy feat.


Now for the easy part. You pile everyone into the rental car and get your team safely to the hotel. You drive up and your team starts booing you because the van is the color of your rival team! NOOOOO!!!!  


This sounds like nothing, but your team will NEVER let you forget this one, believe me! This may not seem like a big deal, but keep your car color in mind when renting a van for competition.



Hotel Hooplah


Everyone has a uniform, check!  


Made it on the flight, check! 


Made it to the hotel, Check!  


Realizing you booked the wrong hotel after driving 30 minutes outside of town to the hotel that was surprisingly inexpensive, check… 


Check those addresses people! With hotel chains that all have the same name, you might think you are booking the hotel right down the street from the venue, but you accidentally clicked on the wrong link and booked the hotel 30 minutes out of the way. Sure, this isn't the worst thing that can happen, but after competing all day and getting stick in event traffic leaving the venue, having to drive 30+ minutes back to the hotel with a group full of cheerleaders is not ideal. 



Traveling is stressful when planning a trip for yourself, let alone planning a trip for an entire cheer squad.  Good luck, you are going to need it. Just remember: always keep your uniforms in your carry on, don’t be late to the airport, try and rent a car that matches your team colors, and check the address twice when booking a hotel room. 


It is not a guarantee you will win at competition, but by avoiding these points, you will win at traveling!   


[Source: Giphy]