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:
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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.