Cheer Life Lessons

The competitive cheer world is a volatile roller coaster. (I’m sure any all-star competitive sport is, but cheer is what I know.) The stakes feel high, the drama level of the parents is even higher. :-P I’m not excluding myself: there’s a reason why I stay to watch most of the team practices – in addition to wanting to understand what my daughter is experiencing & be able to coherently talk to her about this biggest part of her life, I’m also protecting our investment!

We’ve had so many hyper-emotional situations this year (if it were your first year in this world, you’d be freaking out & feel incredibly unstable… But seriously, these big “gym rocking changes” happen every.single.season.) It might sound a little crazy, but I am actually extremely thankful that Annelise is getting to see how the real world works through different levels of upheaval that directly touch her, while I’m still there to walk beside her through it.

We had two of these situations back to back two days last week. Her Rage coach called me before practice & wanted to give us a heads up (incredibly kind, b/c he knows how much she truly cares) that they are going to try switching her out of her spot in the pyramid with someone else, b/c one part is not hitting. I played cool & said that was absolutely fine, whatever it takes to make it hit. I was afraid she would be gutted - y’all, people honestly quit teams & switch gyms over changes like this, when their kids can’t handle it! :-O But Annelise was FINE! She said the same thing: whatever it takes to make it hit! And she even said straight up that she wasn’t as perfect at it as I thought she was (we all thought it wasn’t hitting b/c of another girl; she confirmed it’s mostly that girl, but acknowledged it’s still partly her, too!)

THIS. This is what my daughter is getting out of cheer: not just teamwork, handling pressure, & work ethic, but self-awareness and learning how to accept changes and potential disappointments with grace & positivity.

I feel very strongly that God rewarded her reaction, b/c that night’s practice ended up being amazing: they didn’t get to the pyramid, but they rearranged the whole opening so that now she is flying in the opening show-stopping basket toss, and she’s the center tumbler for the whole opening tumbling sequence!!! (Being center is a huge honor, and she’s already center flyer in their elite stunts.) She said afterwards that was *more* than enough compensation for being moved to the side in the pyramid! :-D

The very next day brought an earthquake for the entire gym, not just Annelise: her favorite tumbling coach (who was also her head cheer team coach last year, who led them to Summit) was let go. Y’all, everybody lost their minds: athletes, parents, bawling, frantically texting, freaking out, threatening to quit, threatening to go to a different gym = yes, this huge loss was a lot bigger than average, b/c he had been the core of our gym for so many years, and he was connected to almost every family, since he does tumbling & not just one or two all-star teams. But it’s literally no different anytime any coach moves on: people lose their minds. I admit, this situation is a little bit different, b/c he was such a bedrock symbol of our gym, but he has been miserable this whole year; the decision is justified. I can’t emphasize enough how normal coaching staff turnover is in the competitive cheer world. It’s a constant revolving door, and it absolutely stuns me that people who have been in this world for more than a year still whip into an irrational frenzy with each changing of the guard. You *CANNOT* base your love for this sport on a coach. Yes, we entrust our kids to these coaches and expect our children to give them their whole hearts; but this is life, and what is it teaching our kids when we act terrified & devastated over something we all know will probably happen multiple times a season?

I’m absolutely NOT saying this isn’t sad. He is a PHENOMENAL coach - Annelise purposely chooses his class above any other - and I will FOREVER be grateful for Heat last year!!! ❤️ I would never tolerate anyone questioning his incredible coaching gift...

But it wasn’t my job, and I don’t own that business. I think the mob mentality is very dangerous, and I will always prefer to sit back, take a breath, and see how things pan out first before making any decisions. And again, I appreciate that Annelise is getting these life lessons now through this process, while I am here to hold her hand through it. This is how life works, with people you give your heart to often leaving & leadership changing constantly in the real world. I’m glad I can teach her through this that it’s sad but not devastating, that it’s not scary, and that there’s always something exciting ahead for both sides.

So yeah, this was two days in a row that I had upsetting gym news for her! I felt awful when she walked in the door, and I had to say, “OK, so I have some MORE gym news today...” I told her, expecting her to get weepy – she didn’t at all. She was very matter-of-fact! “He needs to be where he will be happier.” = parenting win!!!

So proud of her, and so pleased with the life lessons she’s getting out of this above & beyond teamwork, performing under pressure, work ethic, & time management. ❤️


  1. Any time we can walk with our children through potential disappointment and see them respond in a grace-filled way is such a blessing as a parent!!! Yay for Annelise and for you! Trusting that the coaching change will end up going well for all involved.

    And while we're not in competitive cheer or travel sports, just regular ol' high school sports certainly have enough parent/player/coach drama! Kudos to you for handling it so well at an even higher level!!

    1. They’re not “fun” lessons, but I just keep thinking what a blessing it is that she’s getting them so intensely right now, instead of getting blindsided as an adult, especially re: how to deal with the emotions of it all.


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