You’re a cheer coach. You have a vision of your team, and a dream of how far
they can go. You never want to acknowledge the negatives, the disadvantages,
and the potential setbacks for next season–or, shoot, for next competition!
But, unfortunately, it’s all part of the job. Yes, of course there are seasons
when your team absolutely ROCKS it, and is so fluid together; that season,
every part of the routine hits, and you bring home the big wins. The problem is,
you never know if you have that season until it starts up, and the first
indication of where your team may land on that winning spectrum is at tryouts.
Walking into tryouts,
you’re going to see most of the same faces, so it’s not
like you’re going to skyrocket to the top if you had a mediocre season the year
before… but you never know! That’s why they say ‘there’s always next year’.
Well, next year is officially starting, and the missing link to your routine
may just saunter in through the door to join the team. Anticipating nothing and
everything at the same time is hard… and, when you really get down to decision
time, it gets even tougher.
Sometimes, you’re faced with choices that pull at your heartstrings. For
instance, newcomers might unexpectedly outperform returning cheerleaders at
tryouts: all of a sudden, these shoo-in team members are looking more like
waitlisted participants. If you’ve developed relationships with these
cheerleaders over time, the last thing you want to do is tell them that they aren’t
going to be welcomed back–especially if they’ve done nothing wrong! You really
want to be the ‘good guy’,
to make your team happy, and be able to sleep at
night, but you know deep down that you have to do what’s best for the team
overall. It’s your job to wear the black hat, and give spots to the
cheerleaders that deserve it.
Another situation that cheer coaches face is choosing between siblings and
close friendships depending on skill level. This happens a lot when cheer
coaches head up two or more competitive level teams. Does this sound familiar?
You had a set of siblings on the same team last year, but over the last season,
one advanced their skills a little more than the other. You now want to place
one your level 5 team versus your level 4, splitting the siblings up. The
parents might not understand the call,
drama might spin out to other team
parents, and the kid that was left on the lower level team might not
understand. Tough call. In these kinds of situations, you, as a coach, have to
stand strong in your convictions, and do what’s right for the success of both
teams. If team parents demand explanations, remind them that you’re trying to place
both of their children winning teams: the lower level team will benefit with
their child as a lead, and the higher level team will give the other child
exposure to what it takes to shine eventually. Break it down for them like any
other sport–would you rather be a starter on a JV-level team, or benched on a
Varsity team? Cheer routines demand perfect execution, and the last thing you want
is to jump the gun
on a young cheerleader’s skill level and get them injured.
Tryouts are no easy feat, and you’ve probably been planning them for months!
The only thing you can’t plan for is your heartstrings, and you better believe
that they are going to be pulled in some way or another. So, harden up that
coaching shell of yours, flex those decision-making muscles of yours, and try
to make the most out of drafting your next season.
What are other tough calls cheer coaches have to make during tryouts? Share your
experiences with us!