We had some inadvertent bonding issues this year in cheer, and to be honest, I didn't really see how divisive things were until the last few weeks; it left me feeling like I was grasping for some extra cohesion here at the end. I just assumed it wouldn't be an issue this year, with all our returners, but the girls & I talked about it together at practice: last year, they all sat together for water breaks & snack, but this year everyone scatters out to where their parents are sitting in separate groups. (The 6 new girls this year were recruited by 2 returning moms, so those additions have felt a bit cliquey - not on purpose, but nonetheless.) It's so hard then to get the girls back & ready to go; instead of everyone being close, I had to scream over to the parents for 2 minutes at every break. I have soooo many adorable pics of the girls hanging out & being casual together - sweet squad bonding - during games last year...and I had not a single one from this year. Everyone splits & isolates. :-( I wish I would've put my finger on it earlier, [I don't have an assistant this year (which truly is fine in every other aspect) so I haven't had an extra set of eyes as attuned to the girls,] but I resolved to change this pattern for what little time we have left. Our playoff run is going to be ALL ABOUT bonding! :-)
The girls are all sitting together, again, for breaks at practice & during games, and that alone has made ALL the difference in the world!!! ♥ Instead of hovering in their parents' friends groups, they are having a BLAST - giving each other piggyback rides, playing circle games like "Little Sally Walker", doing conga lines(!!! :-D) & massage trains... Exactly as they SHOULD be!!! ♥ It's instantly back to the closeness of last year...and my heart is filled with so much gratitude! I couldn't bear the thought of ending the year without the BEST experiences possible!!! This was a simple thing, but a HUGE thing that has restored so much joy.
Sunset pony sits during a break, just to have fun:
We also bonded over a sick teammate: last week one of our girls came down with acute pneumonia and is in the PICU at one of our local hospitals. [Lift her up in prayer!] We all signed a group picture frame for her, and we made up a cheer! I videoed & posted it on her mom's FB page, so she could see it in the hospital. ♥ Her mom cried-happy and said she watched it over & over and even quietly cheered along with us. :-)