Not much can shake the foundation of solid cheerleading squad "“ but a mid-season change in leadership can come pretty close.

A leadership change could mean a new athletic director, a new coach or a new captain. No matter which role gets a replacement, it can cause confusion and tension on a team. Arming yourself with a little insight about mid-season changes can help you prepare in case it happens to your cheerleading team.

Why It Might Happen.

Sometimes, a cheerleading team might see a leadership change coming. For instance, if your coach is pregnant, you know she'll be out at some point during the cheer season.

Other times, a change might be sudden and unexpected. A leader might have a personal reason for needing to leave the team, or an illness that doesn't allow them to be a part of the team anymore.
A captain might have to resign if their family is moving, or might be forced to resign if they don't achieve a minimum GPA.

The individual leaders might have nothing to do with the change. The athletic program could experience downsizing or growth, either in budget or size, which would result in changes.

Other situations may lead to a coach or director being fired. It might be as simple as the people in charge making a decision that they think will improve the squad's performance, or it might be a controversial situation. Controversial situations might be the most difficult for a team. Not only will the team be dealing with a shake-up among themselves, but the controversial nature might mean that others in the community and media get involved, placing a spotlight on the team during a difficult time.

Who Takes Over?

Depending on the circumstances, the new leader might be a familiar face or someone new entirely.

If the change was expected, it is probably an easier transition because it is likely that the coach may have spent some time training their replacement or stand-in. This means everyone has had some time to get to know each other and get used to working together.

If the change is unexpected, the assistant coach may step in to lead or the team will get a brand new leader. The addition is most likely going to be someone that is hired by the school or organization's athletic department, and the team probably won't have any say in the choice.

If the team captain needs to be replaced, it might be the co-captain that fills in. If there is no co-captain, a new captain will be chosen by the coach, or more likely voted in by the team.

What To Expect In The Aftermath.

Any change, big or small, is going to require a transition and adjustment period. Remember to keep the bigger goal of your cheerleading team in mind. Whether it is to improve your competition rank or keep school spirits high, keep in mind the reasons that you suit up into your practice wear and cheerleading uniforms. Work together as a team to move forward with the season and accept that a change in leadership comes with new ideas, fresh perspectives and additional experience that can benefit the team. Focus on the positives of the situation, like the chance to improve!

Has your team experienced a leadership shake-up? How did your team deal, and what did you learn?
Check back every Wednesday in February for more tips on dealing with mid-season leadership changes!