Thursday, July 18, 2013

Welcome to My Cheer Squad

I spent *HOURS* last night writing a welcome email for my incoming fall cheer squad; since I put so much time into it, and since it explains a large part of what our life will be like for the next four months, I thought it might be cool to include it here! I know we have several new cheerleaders who are not only new to our league, but who are also new to our area, so I wanted to give them as much info as possible; this league is an intensive commitment, and I wanted them to know up front what to expect. I also wanted them to know that while I have cheer experience, we're still kind of new to Texas, too, so they shouldn't feel alone. :-) I wanted to point out a few differences in this year vs. last year for returning squad members. The Falcons will be run as a much tighter ship under my tutelage. ;-)

Welcome to cheerleading for the 2013 Falcons! In the next few weeks, I will receive a lot more concrete information (exact dates & times for cheer camp, events, when to expect uniforms, etc.) from the league leadership to share with everyone; but at this point, all I know is that YOU are the fantastic families who comprise our squad!

Who am I: "Coach Susie" ("Coach Blake" is my husband, the Falcons football coach ;-)) I grew up outside Charlotte, NC in youth cheer and dance. I taught dance (tap, jazz, preballet, & creative movement) outside both Atlanta & Chicago and am currently a licensed Zumba instructor. This is my 4th year coaching youth cheer and my 2nd with this league. (We just moved to Texas last July; our family has moved 8 times over the last 13 years - crazy, I know! But we love it here and are settling in now FOR GOOD! ;-)) Last year, I coached the Texans, and I'm so excited to be with the Falcons now, to have our family all united on one team!

What to expect, practice-wise: the boys will regularly practice three days a week (Tues, Wed, Fri) but we will only practice two; definitely Fri (Fri is a great refresher before Sat games!) and whichever the majority of the squad wants: Tues or Wed. [Let me know your vote! I know we all have "stuff" - my cheerleader, Annelise, currently has gymnastics Tues AND Fri, and I have church singing rehearsals about one Wed a month; so I'm already going to be shuffling our schedule completely for cheer! I vote Wed & Fri for practice.] The practices will start out running an hour & a half, 5:30 - 7 PM, b/c we have so much to learn; but as long as we're getting all of our cheers & dances down solidly and not wasting time, I'm hoping to knock them down to one hour. Your cheerleader must wear her cheer shoes (no flip flops or sandals) and bring a large water bottle to every practice. Staying hydrated out in the heat is key! [Cheer shoes: they need all-white cheer shoes. We will be doing some simple stunts, so the flexible soles are very important. Perfect example. (I might buy myself a pair!)] Wear gym-appropriate clothes to practice (no dresses, skirts, jean shorts, etc.) We had a "practice uniform" last year (a pair of Soffe shorts & top) and if y'all are interested in that, I'd be all about it, again! I don't like adding extraneous costs, but I will say, it's nice not to tangle with your girls over what they're going to wear to each practice. ;-) Thoughts? Finally, hair must be up, out of faces. At each practice, we will warm up, go over cheers, and work on a halftime dance. Your cheerleader must be present, not only to learn the cheers and dances, but b/c where she stands impacts where everyone else lines up. We are a TEAM!!! :-)

Cheer Camp: not yet sure when it will be held (Aug 3 or 4? maybe?) but I want to mention this up front, b/c as someone who was new to this league last year, I would have liked to know what to expect. It's only one day for about three hours. All league cheerleaders from every team come together to learn a few cheers, some stunting rules, and get a head start learning a new halftime dance. Please make attending a priority! We won't learn a whole new halftime dance for every single one of the 8-10 game weeks (our squad did that last year; it was exhausting by Nov!) but we will do at least four or five, so getting this extra instruction time is priceless. League cheer shirts will also be available on Camp day - most girls *do* buy one. Again, totally not required, but it would make for a good practice uniform top.

What to expect, game-wise: we will cheer eight to ten regular season Saturday games (the board is still working out the schedule) starting Sept 7, and if we make the playoffs, into mid-November. The playing schedule is staggered, so the 2-hour games can be anytime b/t 8 AM and 4 PM. As soon as the league makes the final schedule (mid-Aug?) I'll get it out to you, so that you can plan the rest of your fall weekends. All cheerleaders must be at the field 30 MINUTES BEFORE GAME TIME. We cheer the whole game, with scattered water breaks. (We don't take a quarter off.) The girls will stay in "the cheer box" - an area beside the players' benches, sectioned off with cones, right in the center of the sideline. [I know this isn't where the Falcons cheerleaders stood last year, but this is the standard league cheer policy.] The cheer parents usually like to set up their chairs right behind the cheer box, and the girls can come to those seats for water breaks. At halftime, each cheer squad does a dance at midfield and then has a break. Whether or not the Falcons make it to the Turf Bowl (the league Super Bowl! so cool!) our girls WILL dance at that halftime, so plan on cheering in mid-November - playoffs or not. If the Falcons get knocked out early, our regular practices will be over, but we will have two or three division-wide cheer practices in Nov to learn the Turf Bowl halftime dance all together. (It was an amazing experience last year!)

Uniforms: I don't know when to expect them. As soon as I do, you will, too! :-)

Hair bows: OF COURSE we will have giant hair bows, but those do not come with the uniforms. Parent vote: make or buy them? Where did the Falcons get theirs last year? Texans bought theirs, but I *do* have bow-making experience on my résumé. ;-) I'm up for whatever!

Fundraiser: the league does a fundraiser every year. It's completely voluntary. Last year was selling grill spices; this year I think is stadium cups? Again, we'll know more in the coming weeks, but don't stress over it. (I just like to know what's coming at me ahead of time!)

Cutesy cheer stuff: I am all about team spirit paraphernalia! If you have any ideas or just like to spend hours scouring Pinterest for crafty fun, fill me in! One of the things I love about this league is the level of pride these teams take in their colors & mascots. I'm already thinking of spirit shakers we can make out of clear water bottles to hand out to our fans, a spirit stick for our squad, etc. Bring on the glitter!!! ;-)

Can my friend join our squad? If your cheerleader has a friend who would also like to cheer and is up for the commitment, it's not too late! Make sure she registers ASAP and let me know!

When do we start? The beginning of August! *Tentatively* mark your calendars for our first cheer practice to be Thursday, August 1st at 5:30 PM. (Yes, Thurs instead of Fri this time. ;-)) If the league gives me a different start day, I will let you know; but I want us to meet once before Cheer Camp, so we can get to know each other first. (Cheer Camp = hundreds of girls in one room, so if we have a little bonding first, it's much less overwhelming! :-))

Celebration: We are planning our team kick-off barbeque August 4th in the afternoon at [a football parents' home] for the whole football team & cheer squad. Mark your calendars; more info to come...

Sooo, KUDOS if you've actually made it through reading this whole dissertation!!! :-D Hang onto this email, so you'll be able to refer back. I'm obviously a big fan of communication, so email or text me ANYTIME with ANY questions! Reply with answers to all my voting & opinion questions, let me know if there's anything else I can do for you, and I'll see everyone in person in 2 weeks! Go Falcons!!!

4 comments:

  1. Love to read in your e-mail how excited you are about doing this with and for the girls!

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  2. Why can all coaches be like that? I love how you actually communicate!!!

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  3. I really *AM* so excited to do this with & for the girls!!! My youth cheer days were so much fun, and I want them to be even BETTER for Annelise & these girls. :-)

    I also just like to know everything I'm getting into up front, and I want clear expectations. The other cheer coach last year had been in our league for years and totally took for granted that I knew how things ran. She's lucky that I was willing to make last minute stuff (like cheer camp!) still be a priority. :-P

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  4. Great letter! I love that you set out expectations for the year, and let them know as much as possible with what info you currently have. I think it makes it infinitely easier for the parents to know up front what you expect from the girls (and parents!), whether it's time commitment, what to wear, etc.

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