Category Archives: Cheerleading

See you later

Although I recently wrote about my decision to not coach cheerleading next year, tonight’s end-of-the-year banquet was the final page of a chapter that has been two years in the making. Saying goodbye to my girls, leaving them with a few final “words of wisdom,” and hugging them before we departed was just enough to break my heart.

A few conversations in particular, with both my girls and some of the parents, made me realize how blessed I am to have genuinely connected with some of these young women. All along my hope was that I would help shape them into both talented athletes and respectable individuals. Little did I know, they were the ones who were teaching me.

As I shed tears sharing some final thoughts with my girls earlier, I realized a few things:

Age does not dictate influence: some of the girls I coached are as young as 14 years old and have seen and experienced things that I know nothing about. Their ability to bring me back to my child-like sense of wonder is something I’ll always be appreciative of.

Remember to be present: juggling coaching on top of an already-hectic life taught me how to compartmentalize my priorities, set limits, and be flexible. When I was at work, that’s where my focus was. When I was at the gym with my girls, my focus turned to them. I learned how to be intentional with my time, and to spend it on what means the most to me.

– Always do what you love: it’s what led me to this chapter in my life, and it’s what’s guiding me to the next one. I’m proud of my passions, even at the times when i’m singled out because of them. I’ve learned to truly fall in love with my quirks, and having the girls I coached embrace me for them solidified my belief that I should never be ashamed of doing what I enjoy.

– You will always be enough: this lesson was a doozy, but it’s one that sincerely resonated with me even as I attempted to teach it to others. Societal standards of what’s right, wrong, beautiful, ugly, appropriate, uncalled for, smart, stupid, etc., is straight up exhausting, and trying to meet a standard set by the masses is just impossible, not to mention unfair. Accepting who you are as an individual is a life-long process, and often an uphill battle. But that process of acceptance brings you to a place where you will not only look at yourself without judgement, but also look at others that way, too.

Sometimes the lessons you leave a situation with provide you the peace of mind you need to transition into a new chapter. I’m thrilled to see what new opportunities are in store for me down the road, and in the end, I guess it’s not really a goodbye, it’s just an I’ll see you later. 

banquet

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I would

I made the hardest decision of my 25 year-old life on Monday, and today I felt its effects in full force. After two years of coaching cheerleading, this week I finally told my girls that I won’t be continuing on next year. And earlier tonight, we had our last practice of the season, a time that can only be described as bittersweet.

Oops, sometimes we like to eat a lot in practice...

Oops, sometimes we like to eat a lot in practice…

Practices are where the heart and soul of a team come together. It’s where I get the opportunity to teach skills, listen to their stories, and hopefully offer some useful insight. Yes, games are an important time to showcase our hard work, but practices are where the relationships that make this decision so difficult are formed.

After my girls left tonight I sat in that empty gym and just cried. Straight up sobbed like a fool for no one else but the creepy janitor in the hallway to hear.

I pictured all of the girls that I have coached in that gym over two years, all the times they made me laugh, drove me crazy, taught me something new about myself, rolled their eyes at me, complained about conditioning, relied on me for advice, and most importantly, shouted “Thanks, Coach!” or “Love ya, Coach!” It played like a movie in my mind. Closing the door on those memories was heartbreaking. Even as I type this I’m still shaking my head at the decision i’ve made, naively hoping that maybe some miracle solution will drop out of the sky.

Bittersweet

Yet in truth, this is the best choice for me and the life I know I want to continue to make for myself. Now that cheerleading is ruled as an official sport in New York State, my commitment time would have doubled next year, and there would be a demand for extra flexibility that I simply do not have anymore.

So I chose me: I chose my career and the opportunity to get better at my craft each and every day. I chose a lifestyle with more time for family, friends, traveling, yoga, writing, and other elements that give me happiness in an entirely different way.

For two full years, I made room in my life for coaching. I worked late to make up for hours lost when I had to leave the office early; turned down dinners with friends and networking events; answered texts from concerned parents at 6 a.m.; put literally thousands of extra miles on my car; sacrificed time with my family because I had practice or a game… the list goes on.

Out there killin' it

Out there killin’ it

But I also had the rare opportunity to positively impact over thirty high school girls in the best way that I knew how. I saw them improve right before my eyes, celebrated their joys and worked through their frustrations, and now believe without a shadow of a doubt that if nothing else, they know they can depend on me if they ever need anything, whether they’re 15 or 50.

My captains <3

My captains holding me up 🙂

Life tends to hand us critical choices that demand to be made. Unfortunately many of them are both difficult and also right for us.

So what do you do? In most cases, the answer is simple: ask yourself, would you do it again? Would you relive the experience just as it was?

I would. And that’s something to be grateful for.

My girls

My girls

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