High School Help! As a parent, I want our school program to be more!

A

Anonymous

Member
Hey there! I joined specifically to get y’all’s feedback on a topic that has been nagging me. I am hoping to learn how it works at other schools so I can either let it go, or have a candid but gentle conversation with some coaches (which I might do, anyway- we’re a small community and everyone’s approachable).

Our school district in the Midwest is in an area where neighboring county schools win
state, even national, titles. We are also surrounded by All Star gyms that consistently win national events. All that to say, cheer is a popular sport here and athletes have access and support to/from the best.

However, I have noticed over the years that my daughter has participated in our peewee cheer club (which is very well run and popular with grade schoolers every year) that the cheerleaders at our two Middle Schools and our one High School aren’t anywhere as advanced as our neighboring schools. Like, any-where. It seems like about ten years ago, we just froze in time. Same cheers, motions. No more competitions, not even invitational or State Fair. We don’t do any stunts beyond simple extensions. NO tumbling. Not even any jumps. Spiriting after cheers stops at a pom wave and step to the crowd. The teams lack energy, if not athleticism (to put it bluntly). They seem unconditioned and like they’re “going through the motions.”

This is frustrating to me, an outsider (freely admit!) for several reasons. One, I know for a fact thet several of these girls also do All Star, and are on level 2 to 4 teams. So why the heck aren’t they showing a little more skill at school games? Do coaches discourage it if the rest of the team can’t do a skill? That doesn’t seem to be the case at any other school around us.

Two, having been heavily involved as a parent with the peewee/club cheer (even coached a few seasons, and am always the first to raise my hand to coordinate, purchase, fundraise, drive, etc), I have been to dozens of Middle School and High School games, too, and over the course of four years, it looks like the skill levels are going DOWN, not up. Against other schools in our conference, our cheerleaders look like they’re bored, tired, or shy, and like they’ve been instructed to keep the spirit to a minimum. Again, no halftime cheers or dances, no tosses, no high kicks, no loudness and not so much as a roundoff, nevermind a handspring or tuck. Don’t coaches require athletes to do a minimum of this stuff at games?!

Third reason this weighs on me is that my daughter LOVES her school cheer program, and she also does All Star, which she enjoys for the competitions. She is going into the 6th grade (last year for peewee) and is level 2 in AS. She says she wants to try out for MS in the 7th grade and pause AS. I haven’t discussed any of my observations with her because I don’t want to sway her opinion either way, but I worry she’ll get bored, honestly. Yes, I know there’s more to school cheer than Game Night, but my daughter loves being Coached and Challenged and I just don’t see it happening in our school district. Our coaches are more like team moms or club sponsors than athletic coaches.

All this to say, is there ever any benefit to asking school coaches why their teams don’t compete? Or tumble? Is it offensive? The last thing I want is to come across as someone who “knows better”, but I am not afraid to admit that I “want better” or that I think our teams can “do better” and still have fun.

I just wish our school program could be more. I have to believe at least some of the cheerleaders wish it, too. They almost never look like they’re having FUN, which is kind of the point, no?

Other notes in case it helps your feedback: our coaches at these levels have been at it for about 8-10 years each, our school does recognize cheer as a sport, the teams do attend the (UCA?) summer camps, we did used to compete locally (never won or placed, but at least we worked towards something and showed up!) before these coaches came onboard.

I guess I’m looking for insight about why it might be this way, or from parents in similar situations, or coaches who might be able to open my eyes or give me hope. TIA!
 
A

Anonymous

Member
I coached HS for awhile. My program competed locally but this would irritate me if asked because there are a number of reasons why school teams may not compete. Some of them are not even within the control of the coaches or staff:

Reasons schools don’t compete: Money, lack of interest from past teams/parents, not a priority for the athletic department, lack of facilities/practice space. The reasons are endless honestly.

Also we had a non-competitive JV that was mostly just sideline with a few local exhibition opportunities and the reasons for that included: money, majority of the athletes were new to cheer in general, had never tumbled before.

Further, when you look at a team and you see that it is not tumbling or doing things that other teams in your area are doing please consider:

1. Most of the team might be completely new to cheer and not have those skills. Building skills takes time and money in privates and such. Not every kid has that.

2. If you want a team to tumble you have to have space for them to learn and practice space is usually at a premium. You also have to have an appropriate surface for them to learn on and mats are expensive.

3. Kids may not have any interest in tumbling. They just might not care to learn. Everyone’s goals in cheer are not the same.

These are just some of the reasons why you might not be seeing all the things you want to see as an outsider. But please take care to understand that not every decision regarding a program comes from a place of “They just don’t care” or “they’re unathletic.”
 
A

Anonymous

Member
I coached HS for awhile. My program competed locally but this would irritate me if asked because there are a number of reasons why school teams may not compete. Some of them are not even within the control of the coaches or staff:

Reasons schools don’t compete: Money, lack of interest from past teams/parents, not a priority for the athletic department, lack of facilities/practice space. The reasons are endless honestly.

Also we had a non-competitive JV that was mostly just sideline with a few local exhibition opportunities and the reasons for that included: money, majority of the athletes were new to cheer in general, had never tumbled before.

Further, when you look at a team and you see that it is not tumbling or doing things that other teams in your area are doing please consider:

1. Most of the team might be completely new to cheer and not have those skills. Building skills takes time and money in privates and such. Not every kid has that.

2. If you want a team to tumble you have to have space for them to learn and practice space is usually at a premium. You also have to have an appropriate surface for them to learn on and mats are expensive.

3. Kids may not have any interest in tumbling. They just might not care to learn. Everyone’s goals in cheer are not the same.

These are just some of the reasons why you might not be seeing all the things you want to see as an outsider. But please take care to understand that not every decision regarding a program comes from a place of “They just don’t care” or “they’re unathletic.”
Agree with all of this…
 
A

Anonymous

Member
I will also say that it depends on the sports philosophy of the school. Some schools really want every kid to get a chance-and it can be really hard to get kids with cheer experience to do a team where 1/2 the kids might not even be able to a cartwheel or level 1 stunts. Football, basketball, etc can accept everyone, give their best players most of the playing time and put the others in only when a game is pretty well determined, but cheer kind of has to set the routines based on what everyone can do safely.
 
A

Anonymous

Member
Things to consider:
1) Do they take everyone at tryouts? Or are they selective? There is a truism in life that "scarcity breeds demand." If everyone makes the team, it means less to have made the team and there is a corresponding lack of enthusiasm and appreciation for being there.
2) Some squads are "grounded" by school edict.
3) When the current coaches took the job they might have just decided that they preferred the path of least resistance. Lowered standards and expectations take up less time and energy.
4) Ultimately the kids have to want it and the parents have to support it. You should find out if any of the current kids/parents have complained about this already.
5) It's terrible that the kids who have the skills aren't being allowed to exhibit them. This also tells the community that you don't need much talent to make the squad and it starts a vicious circle.
6) You said the coaches are more like club advisors than athletic coaches. That might be your answer right there. They might lack the experience and qualifications to do much more than paperwork and teach basic cheer skills. Maybe they were the only people who applied for the job when the school last went looking for coaches and they have gotten to set the tone.
 
  • Like
Reactions: herbiggestfan

Latest posts