Blog: Again & Again & Again (Thoughts from a Cheer Coach during Homecoming Week)
by Kim Sullivan
HCA Marketing Assistant & Former Cheer Coach
I don’t know what kind of things you think of when you hear the word cheerleader, but for me, “group effort” pretty much sums it up! I think that could be the definition of cheerleading, and it especially came to mind this week as I saw our Knights cheer squad preparing for homecoming! Why? Because simply, a sideline cheerleader cannot stand alone and perform with any real effect, be made MVP, or receive an all-team placement award at the end of a game. Rather, cheerleaders work as a team, supporting each other, no matter what position they hold. While other sports teams encourage and embrace individual performance, it’s just the opposite in a cheer squad. For cheerleaders, it’s always a group effort, a performance based on a repetitive routine performed in a group setting.
In cheerleading, it’s easy to get caught up in the repetition needed to bring about perfection.
With our Knights cheerleaders, I was known as the “again coach.” Again became my favorite word, and I said it again and again, and yes, again, until we were able to perform an 8-count perfectly. Then we would move on to the next 8-count, and relentlessly repeat the same process again. And then the process began all over…again.
With all the effort of continually perfecting each movement, a daily scheduled practice was essential, and actually, mandatory. Success fully relies on each and every team member showing up and being prompt at every practice. Prompt and ready to go. Otherwise the time spent could really be pointless. Frustration doesn’t just impact the coach either; the cheerleaders who are prompt and loyal suffer when their teammates falter in motivation to show up on time, just don’t give their best, or fall short in effort.
But back to definitions…
A definition that could describe a cheerleader holding the position of a flyer could be “putting your life in the arms of those underneath you.” Imagine being hoisted and then lunged upwards into the air, and then kicking and twisting downward, fully relying on the arms beneath you to catch you…before…well, let’s just say, they must catch you in time. This is literally putting your life in someone else’s hands, unthinkable to most, and especially unnerving for cheer parents—but something a cheer squad does all the time. The reason it all works is because it’s a practiced trust, a total team effort, and a reliance of faith in teammates.
Speaking of team effort, cheerleaders are also committed to cheering for their respective sport—their school’s team on the court or field! For us, this was the Knights! While cheerleaders want to be the center of attraction and have their 90 seconds of fame on center court or midfield at every game, most of them truly do love the team they cheer for, the spirit of the game, and the excitement of the crowd. A cheer team provides the blessing of a perfect ambiance for the competing teams and the attending audience.
Coaching any team is a blessing, but for me, coaching girls has been a unique blessed experience.
I saw my girls individually come alongside each other with words of encouragement, working with all their hearts to bless others. As a team, we were able to do fundraisers, shop for others in need, and cook and bake for those under stress. I personally experienced a break in to my car while I was coaching, losing money, credit cards, cell phone, you name it. Devastated and feeling all the effects of it, one of my cheerleaders went out of her way to tell me how sorry she was, and that she was praying for me and the person who broke into my car—because Jesus asks us to pray for our enemies. Wow, how touched I was by the encouragement she gave me and the faith she exemplified! This was such an unexpected blessing and the proper perspective for that moment and beyond. Even though I knew it to be true, her timing and willingness was significant that day, perhaps a blessing in disguise, right in the middle of our season—right in the middle of our again and again cheer squad practices.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. – Psalm 128:2
But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded. – 2 Chronicles 15:7
Mrs. Kim Sullivan, our blogger of the week, loves promoting school activities, sports events, and pretty much everything else at Highlands! She’s a terrific party planner, promoter, and role-model, all of which set the stage for her coaching the HCA varsity cheer squad for 7 years, including her own daughter, Jenna, who graduated and is now coaching here also. Kim taught her girls to support the Knights playing on the court, care for each other, and be faithful in their commitments. Kim’s son Jeff is also an HCA grad, and has returned as our Guidance Counselor. She loves seeing and catching up with her “kids” as they stop by her office during the workday, whether it’s her own or some of the amazing girls she coached!