So in my last post, I let you in on my approach to blogging - I tend to post when I have to work something out, or I'm feeling particularly sappy. This one falls into the latter category, and - surprise - it has to do with cheerleading.
So here goes - I'm just back from Ally's cheer practice, and what I witnessed tonight actually made me tear up. And although I didn't need it, tonight reminded me how much I love cheerleading as a sport, how many lessons they learn, and why I am proud to be part of the Black Widow Cheer Gym family.
Tonight's practice had some challenges. Some stunt groups had a harder time staying up than others; some girls had to fight hard to get their tumbling passes down. Don't get me wrong - these girls all still did things that make my jaw drop every time I see them - they are truly incredible and I LOVE watching them do what they do.
What made me tear up tonight was watching the girls in between the stunting and tumbling. I watched them support their team mates after every stunt or pass - they cheered when it was really good, and they yelled out "you got this" to girls that needed a little more encouragement. The feeling at the practice tonight was truly one of "we are a team, and we will do great things together". I watched them stand with their arms around each other, I heard them quietly encourage each other. As a parent, I watched them do all the things I want them to do as part of a team, and as good people. It was amazing.
Then I watched the coaches. I watched the coaches treat them as the athletes they expect them to be. They pushed the girls when the needed it, and stood back and let them work through things when they needed that. They shook their heads when it wasn't right (and made them do it again), and yelled praise when the girls hit their skill. At the end of practice, I watched the girls gather for their end of practice huddle. While I couldn't hear the whole pep talk, what I did hear made me even more proud to be part of the Black Widow family. The girls were reminded it was ok to feel stress, to be scared to do something, but that they needed to have a plan to work through that fear and get through the stress. They were reminded that their goal right now was to show progress at each practice, and to trust the coaches, the team and themselves. If they can do that, the season will be a successful one.
As a parent, what more could I ask for? We have found a sport that munchkin loves, and that teaches her the importance of team work, goal setting and determination. And even better, we have found a place for her to excel at her sport that feels like a family. The coaches encourage, push, challenge and support their athletes every practice. They teach them lessons that extend far beyond the gym. It is truly a fantastic thing to witness.
So if you ever see a social media post where I use the hashtag #BWFamily, know that I mean it. And if you follow me on social media, you know that there will be *a few* more posts about cheerleading in coming months. You have been warned :-)