All-Star Is It A Failure To Not Progress?

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Cheer Parent
Mar 23, 2010
Courtney's comments below generated some conversation so I copied them below. Instead of hijacking her thread further I thought we'd continue here...

"This is a great question. We are often wondering the same thing. The reality is that in Kville kids don't stay Level 4 very long and with the advent of Mini level 3 and youth level 5, those that come up through our program are true level 5 athletes by the time they are junior age and stay that way. We certainly attract numerous level 5 kids, but mostly our team rosters are FILLED with kids who will be Level 5 whether they are this month or not come October. We think of it this way : If cheerleading were analogous to elementary school, and Level 2 was second grade, Level 3 was third grade...etc...the expectation would be to graduate from one level to the next each season. If we can't make that happen for an athlete and they summarily "fail" their grade and return back to the second grade ( repeat level 2 again )...we failed as their teachers. It is funny to me to see the celebration that exists on teams of athletes who have been level 2 for 3 or 4 years. To us, that is the equivalent of celebrating the same spelling test words for the 4th year in a row and being excited about knowing them. This is not meant to be offensive...just an analogy to see why we do have so many level 5 teams. We feel our parents as our customers are paying for instruction first and foremost...not assembly of skills. This is also why our lower level teams do not achieve the ability to be truly competitive in a division until the end of the season ( when they have actually become level 2, level 3, etc ). It is astounding to look back and see the growth over a season from the Showcase to the last competition. We think our parents appreciate watching the metamorphosis of the team...and each season we ask our parents to make sure they still stand by this decision. It would be much easier to compete kids at their current level without expecting them to progress."
No it is not a failure not to progress, it is a failure not succeed. You can't let others define what your success ultimately looks like.

I understand her statement in context of her experience. Personally I don't have the same mindset but I understand hers.
What measures "progress" ? I understand going from a bhs to tuck to layout etc. But in real life can't good progress be meeting new friends at cheering? Bettering your social and listening skills? Becoming more flexible? Getting in shape? Normally a cheerleader can achieve all of these but techincally still be 'not progressing'. Im not sure where my rant is going but I think that alot of times parents overlook alot of little changes their children are going through because they are so focused on susie hitting that tick tock or double full.
As a parent, I teach my daughter to strive for excellence. I teach her not to be content if she knows in her heart she can do better. She also knows not to beat herself up if she has given her very best shot at something. To my daughter, it would have been a failure to not have thrown higher skills at tryouts than she did the season before. She would have known it wasnt her very best effort. I think it is case specific though. My daughter does not participate in other sports and fortunately doesnt struggle in school. Her current skills are based on the fact that she has a few hours to practice every week on her skills. If someone did not have the same amount of time to invest, then the challenge of keeping the skills could possibly prevent them from progressing. Its not a failure in the sport. Its just a failure to make progress.
I'll use what you stated in the previous thread. Your daughter has been on a level 2 for more than 1 season. However, you stated that she has learned new skills each of those years, while on that level. In my opinion, that is progressing. She may not have progressed to the point of a higher level, but she's also not at the point she started at. Could your daughter handle a higher level? Perhaps (I don't know your daughter, so I can't answer that). Maybe her tumbling is still level 2, but she could handle level 3 stunting, jumps, motions ect. Your gym maybe has a different philosophy for how they create teams, or what they consider progression. It works for them, because I've never seen a Charlotte team that wasn't competitive. Obviously, what CEA is doing works for them. Each gym has their own philosophy.
I think kids do need to progress and I would not be happy spending 3k a year plus for my cp to still be level 2 after 10 years. BUT she was a level 2 for 3 years while she perfected her BHS technique and learned front walkovers and stepouts. Level 3 for two years and only made level 4 cause they needed another fly (she had bare minimum 4 skills.) She happily stayed a 4 for four years before she made the jump to open 5. Perfection before progression. And progress doesn't neccessarily mean moving up a level. There are so many skills in each level that kids can progress each year without 'moving up.' Especially if the first year in a level you have the bare minimum skill.
I completely agree with @NJ Coach. There are so many elements to a score sheet. Progress on any element is progress. For example, my cp is going to focus on becoming a better jumper this year.
I agree with bits of all. I think progress is measured differently for each child, based on ability alone, be it mental or physical. I don't think a child has to progress one level each season, though. As long as consistent effort to improve one or more skills is present, that equals success, to me. And though I love the non-skill oriented benefits of cheer, @wcsstilldeath , I can't spend this type of time and money if skills progression isn't there.
We can't all be level 5. We don't all have the same potential. As long as you can meet your own personal potential then you succeed. There are kids who walk into Rays that might cheer for 10 years and never progress past level 2. Are they failures? I can't think they are. If level 2 is their maximum potential then be the best damn level 2 we can be.

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@Mamarazzi , I understand cheerleading is expensive and time consuming but how is it any different then a parent paying for their child to be on a traveling baseball team even though the child may be benched. I agree with you but I think we all need to realize that those thousands of dollars spent arent only for skills. Unless a parent is planning on cheerleading to give their child a scholarship to college, then what good will that full do for them when they are adults. On the contrary, the friends they made, and the ability to work with a team will carry on to later stages of their lives. Long story short, if the child loves what they are doing, regardless whether they are on a level 1 team or level 5 team for 8 years, its worth it.
I will simply copy most of my post from the other thread regarding this issue:

Why do they HAVE to progress in levels to be considered success? Kids do sports for all different reasons, which is why the level system is so great. My kids do it because they are competitive and want to win, etc. They are both level 5 cheerleaders, and that is great. But some kids like to do it as an "activity", for more of the social aspect of it, and why should they not be able to do that? Not saying I would pay all that money for it if they weren't trying to progress, but for many kids, they just like to be a part of something. So if all they ever get is a back handspring, level 2 is there for them. That goes for every kid, at every level. I feel that all stars is very different than rec or school even at the lower levels. I will use Stingrays as an example. Even their half year teams, to me, look more polished and together than a rec team (MOST, not ALL) that has been together since summer. I feel that way about all their level teams. They learn more, learn differently, etc. But not all kids are going to have the same drive or attain the same skills. So I feel that the level system, in addition to being progressional for those that WANT to progress safely, also offers kids of all talent levels to be a part of this community.
My daughter LOVES cheer. She loves doing it, she loves watching it. and she loves the friends she's made. She's also a level 2 athlete and has been for 4 years.

She's tumbled with almost every CAC coach we have (including some of our gymnastics program coaches). She's tumbled with Rockstar coaches, CEA coaches, and several others from different gyms. She practiced on her trampoline everyday and used Debbie Love's videos as sources for conditioning when at home. But then last year at tryouts she still couldn't throw a tuck. Did she fail? Did she not try hard enough? I think you know my answer to that.

There's a real closed mind from SOME level 5 athletes and coaches that if you just try harder or go to the right gym then you can also be a level 5 cheerleader. Some kids just can't do it but they enjoy every minute of their time in levels 1-4 and are just as proud of their accomplishments.
It works for them, because I've never seen a Charlotte team that wasn't competitive. Obviously, what CEA is doing works for them. Each gym has their own philosophy.

This isn't a beat up on CEA thing. What they are doing is hugely successful for them. As you can see though, reading any suggestion that a child that can't progress to level 5 is somehow failing is a bit of a hot spot for me! :)
It is a failure to not do your best. Plain and simple. All athletes are not created equal, therefore, not everyone can achieve the same level skill.
I think level 2 cheerleading provides the following; teamwork, commitment, responsibility, focus, and competitiveness. Obviously there are more but, these provide a fine ROI as far as I'm concerned.