There’s one question I am constantly asked: “why do you coach?” I am asked that from friends, family, and random strangers.

There are countless reasons why someone would ask why we coaches keep going, and I completely understand why they ask why. The fact that we aren’t paid, and the amount of hours we put in; the commitment and the ‘lack of social life’; the drama and the crazy parents; the stress and the pressure… it all sounds crazy to an outsider. I have complained countless times to my assistant coach (bless her soul), and other coaches or trusted parents (I have very few of them). I may have said, “I quit” probably hundreds of times. The ones who really know me always respond, “shut up, Brit, no you are not.” They are correct. I say it because I am stressed. Maybe the practice didn’t go well, or what the routine I had imagined just doesn’t look like it should, or my parents drive me absolutely up a wall. The truth is–I am just venting. My ‘I quit’ is my personal pity party, and I think we all deserve them from time to time. I complain because I want to hear what I already know–it’ll be okay. I complain because I want to hear if I am being completely irrational, and I complain because I have to just get it out.

Yes, coaching is stressful; yes there is always drama in one way or another; yes the pressure can get to you. I have a board to answer to: directors, parents, and cheerleaders all observing my every single move. Most are completely unaware of how many hours I actually put into my teams. Most don’t know what it’s like to count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, a bajillion times. Most don’t know what parents put me through. They don’t see my nervous breakdowns, the tears and the frustration from putting your everything into your teams, putting your heart into growing athletes that you are molding and responsible for. And, that crushing feeling if they don’t win. It DOES fall all on us. So, yes, it is very stressful.

But... it all comes down to these two things: passion and love. The love I have for those cheerleaders is what keeps me going. The passion I have for the sport is what drives me to want to do better. To you, it may not be worth it. The relationships that I have built with parents, coaches, directors, and board members will last a lifetime. We are a family. When my back is against the wall, I know an army will be right there by my side. We fight, we laugh, we cry. My kids are friends with their teammates, and those friendships will stand the test of time. They have a village behind them; my team moms and my assistant coach are their ‘aunts’. The joy on their faces when they see each other is reason enough to never leave. My lack of social life depends on your definition of what a ‘good time’ is. You may enjoy going out with friends or family. I do that. It may not be your ideal fun time, but it is mine. There’s nothing like being at a competition surrounded by your team and your family. The stress and pressure. That’s life, you can’t escape it, and you can’t out run it. I don’t get paid–it’s volunteering for most of us! We did know that going in, and if it bothered me that much, I would have never volunteered. The reward that I get for coaching is something money will never be able to buy. The amount of love that I get in return from everyone involved, and the amount I laugh while I coach is something I wouldn’t trade.

Being a part of the future generation is important to me. Making memories with my children is very important. Sometimes, kids have less than ideal home situations, and if I am the reason a kid puts a smile on their face and knows what real love is, than I did my job as a mother, as a coach, and as a member of society. The world is full of negativity. The nurturer inside of me wants every single kid in the world to know that they are beautiful, inside and out; that they are strong, and to know love. Coaching allows me to do that more than wishing on a star would. My heart is as full as my schedule. So, for all of you that ask me why I do it, the answer is simple–you just wouldn’t understand.

Why do you coach cheer? Share your story with us in the comments!