Muscular Dystrophy Doesn’t Stop This Teen from Cheering

NewsIn Dinwiddie, Virginia, Kayla Allen is an inspiring cheerleader to her mother, team, school, and community. However, her journey wasn’t simple. Kayla has been a cheerleader her whole life but for the last few years, she’s had to overcome a major hurdle. In third grade, Kayla was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, which eventually took away her ability to walk, forcing her to put cheer on hold and to adjust to her new life on a scooter. Still determined to cheer, Kayla tried out for several squads but was left devastated when her number was missing from all team rosters.

Yet even that couldn’t stop Kayla. In ninth grade, she tried out for her high school squad, her confidence never wavering even as she watched other girls performing tumbles and tucks. During tryouts, Kayla and her mother Celestine Jackson informed the coaches Kae Partin and Brandi Atkins of her disability, but that wasn’t a problem and the coaches told Kayla that they don’t discriminate. In fact, Kayla’s confidence and determination struck such a chord in the coaches that Kayla made the varsity squad!

Kayla rides on her scooter to cheer practice and is treated like any other teammate. She works hard, performing cheers from her scooter. Coach Partin told the newspaper Progress-Index that at first, Kayla was hesitant about getting on the mat with her scooter. When everyone encouraged her to join the team on the mat, she did and is now truly one of the team.

Kayla’s teammates all treat Kayla like one of their own and Partin says Kayla has had a positive influence on the team, telling the newspaper, “she brings a deeper purpose to the team. It forces the team and the coaches to always recognize the needs of others around you. Typically, this is an age group that is more focused on themselves. But it has opened up their eyes to focus on others as well.”

In reference to Kayla’s cheerleading talents, Partin adds, “She has an incredible spirit. Being part of a public school, it is far more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. There is pride behind saying I am a Dinwiddie General. And she has it.”

Kayla is an inspiring cheerleader and proof that cheerleading isn’t just about tumbles and stunts. A true cheerleader embodies the cheer spirit and is passionate and dedicated to her sport. We’re also inspired by the entire Dinwiddie High School squad and coaches that embrace Kayla as one of their own.

News Source: Progress-Index

Does Kayla’s story inspire you? How does your squad live the cheer spirit?

5 Things That Will Get You Kicked Off the Cheer Squad

EngagementEven on a school cheer squad, it’s a privilege to be on a team, not a right. That means that certain actions can get you suspended for the team and even kicked off. While some reasons may seem obvious, others may not be so clear. As a cheerleader, always respect your coach, your teammates, and the rules of your gym or school.

Here are a few reasons why a cheerleader could get kicked off the team:

Low Grades
You know how schools require their athletes to maintain a certain GPA? It’s not a suggestion; it’s a rule. If you don’t make the minimum GPA, a coach may be required to bench you for a season. If your grades continue to suffer, you may be kicked off and not be allowed back on the team.

Hazing or Bullying
As we saw in the news with the Towson University cheer squad, schools will not tolerate hazing or bullying. Even if seniors think of it as a fun “initiation” process for freshmen, it’s usually not innocent fun and games. Sure, you can play a fun prank on a friend, but before doing so, think about how that person will react – will she laugh or will she take it seriously? If you’re not sure, don’t do it.

Missing Practice (A Lot)
Sure, it isn’t as fun or thrilling as the big game or competition, but that doesn’t mean you can skip cheer practices. Depending on the coach or school, you may be allowed to miss a certain number of practices. It’s best to save those in case you actually become sick or have a family emergency. Don’t just skip practice because you “aren’t feeling it.”

Not Respecting the Captain
The coach may be in charge, but he or she selected a captain to assist and take the lead when necessary. Whether you don’t like the captain for personal reasons or because you didn’t get the position, you still must respect him or her. Ignoring a captain’s rules or requests can get you in big trouble.

Having a Bad Attitude
It doesn’t matter if you are the best cheerleader on the team. A coach will kick you off if you’re a spirit crusher. As a member of a team, you have to work with your teammates and respect them. If you have a problem with one of your teammates, handle it maturely. Creating drama will just make things worse for you.

Have you ever known someone that was kicked off the cheer squad? What are your team’s rules?

A Shoulder To Lean On: Help a Friend with a Bad Relationship

Bad RelationshipAs tough and strong cheerleaders can be, they aren’t immune to the pains of a bad breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or the toils of a bumpy relationship. If a teammate is hurting from either a bad breakup or relationship, be a pal and know how to help him or her recover.

Situation #1: You think your friend’s boyfriend/girlfriend is bad news
This is probably one of the most common questions people ask about friends and relationships. Is it okay to step in and say something to your friend if you think her boyfriend is a jerk? First of all, why don’t you like the boyfriend? Is he mean to your friend or do you just not like him? You could cause a wedge in your friendship if you complain about her boyfriend for no reason.

While you should be open with your friend, try to fix the situation yourself, first. Try to get to know her boyfriend better or talk to your friend about why she likes him. If you think the guy is a bad influence on your friend, then you should definitely speak up and talk to her about why you think she should reevaluate her relationship. Don’t attack her for dating the person; instead, kindly explain why you’re worried and why you think she deserves better.

Situation #2: Your friend just went through a bad breakup
If your friend just experienced a breakup, understand that she is in a very fragile state. Don’t expect her to “get over it” within a couple days. Along the same lines, don’t take it personally if you can’t quickly and easily cheer her up. First, give her time to mourn. Bring her ice cream and watch girly movies. Let her cry and join in when she complains about the guy. She needs to vent and you need to be there to support her. When you’re not at cheer practice or school, keep her busy with fun trips shopping or to the movies. Whatever you do, don’t force her to try to get over it and forget the guy. Breakups are hard!

Situation #3: Your friend is in an abusive relationship
Whether it’s physical or emotional, an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend is never okay. First, talk to her. Remind her how much you care about her and her well-being. Don’t let her make excuses for the person’s abusiveness; it’s never acceptable. Next, remind her that you’re available for support. If she decides she needs to talk to a parent, coach, or school administrator about being abused, offer to go with her or to help her talk about the situation. She may not have yet done so because she was afraid of doing it alone.

Remember, don’t force her to do anything and don’t get mad at her if she doesn’t do what you think she should do. If she doesn’t see her relationship as abusive and you believe she is in danger, talk to your coach, a parent, or a school counselorabout getting her help.

Have you helped a friend with a bad relationship before? How did you help him/her?

Oops! Don’t Make this Team’s Mistake When Ordering Uniforms

NewsThe Harborfields High School football team was all set for a great new seasonwith custom jerseys. One problem: the custom uniforms had a misspelling. Instead of reading, “Harborfields” across the center chest, it says, “Harborsfields.”

According to the Athletic Director, the misspelling wasn’t caught until it was too late – the uniforms arrived on the day of the team’s first game. One player’s jersey didn’t even include his name on the back. To make matters worse, the team lost the game 14-6. While the manufacturer will be fixing the uniforms, no one knows if they will have them in time to use for the season.

Team uniforms really complete the athlete’s look so we can imagine how bummed the team must be. This is an example of how important it is to order custom or personalized uniforms early! By waiting until the last minute, there’s a chance you won’t be able to fix an error. Remember, whether it’s the manufacturer’s fault or not, the cheerleaders are the ones who suffer when their uniforms either don’t fit correctly or the customization is incorrect.

To help prevent errors, work closely with the cheer company from which you order. Double check all spellings before submitting your customization order. Remember, custom and personalized items take much longer to receive. You’ll need to order months ahead of time. If you’re getting new uniforms for next spring season, now is the time to order, or to at least plan what you will order.

We hope the Harborfields football team gets their new uniforms before the end of the season and hopefully something like this doesn’t happen to your squad.

News Source: Huntington Patch

Share your tips! How early do you order your cheer gear? Does your team wear customized uniforms?

Poll Results: Is Your Team Competing This Year?

Cheerleading competitions are exciting, intense, and a completely different type of cheer than cheering at football and basketball games. For many school cheer squads, competing is a luxury. It can be expensive to travel to competitions and usually a team needs to purchase a different cheer uniform. However, we always hope that cheerleaders have a chance to participate in at least one cheer competition.

For this month’s poll, we asked you if your squad was competing this year. The results are in and we’re happy to see that most cheer squads always compete! An incredible 70% said they would be competing these year, as they do every year. Only 16% said that their team never competes and doesn’t plan on competing. Although it only received 2% of votes, we’re glad that some squads don’t compete but plan on eventually competing.

Be sure to take part in our polls every month, and check back for the results!

Cheerleading Blog Poll Results

Middle School Squad Experiences Mid-Season Leadership Change

Middle School Squad Experiences Mid-Season Leadership ChangeThe Mannford Middle School cheerleaders were all set for the new season until their cheer coach quit. Cheerleaders and their parents were worried the change would end their season.

However, the principal stepped in and responded to the parents’ concerns. While they wouldn’t allow parents to step in and help teach, which many parents offered, they did find a school staff member to supervise the team while they perform on the sidelines at games. As for teaching new routines and cheers, the team is temporarily without a leader, as the school has not yet decided what to do.

We hope the middle school cheer squad finds a solution so the cheerleaders can continue to cheer this year!

To avoid a sticky situation like this, check out our free guide on surviving a mid-season leadership change. It has tips for coaches, captains, parents, and cheerleaders! You can download it here.

News Source: Mannford Eagle

Have you ever experienced a mid-season leadership change? How did it effect your team?

Making the Grade: Helping a Friend Struggling in School

Maintaining GradesFor most school cheer squads, all team members are required to maintain certain grades. Regardless of how high or low the minimum requirement is, a cheerleader may occasionally have trouble keeping their grades up during a hectic and busy season.

As dedicated as you or a friend may be to cheer, school is also important and cheerleaders should dedicate time for homework and studying. It’s understandable that, as a season and semester progresses, a cheerleader may fall behind in work. It’s hard juggling school and cheer – both of which require a lot of time and dedication.

Even if you’re thriving in school, don’t let a teammate fall by the wayside. You’re part of a team, which means everyone should help one another in order to achieve a common goal of success and improvement. Your team can’t be the best if a teammate isn’t making the required grades.

Hopefully, your team is close enough that your teammates can reach out for help. If a teammate asks you for help, have a plan of action ready. First, ask the teammate how she needs help in improving her grades. Is she struggling in one particular subject? Does she need to bring up all her grades? Is there one big test coming up that could make or break her GPA? Before you can begin studying, you’ve got to have an overview of the entire situation to know where you should devote your time.

Next, think of someone who is successful in school. It’s probably you if that person has asked for your help. Think about how you keep up your grades. How do you do your homework? How often do you study? How do you balance your schedule? The best way to help is to share your tactics for success.

Start a study group with the struggling teammate; you can even invite other teammates to join! If you’re a captain or coach and you’ve been approached by a struggling teammate, offer to host or supervise a team study session. After or before practice, dedicate time for working on homework or studying.

Another way you can help is by suggesting to the teammate that she should speak with her teachers. Are there any extra credit assignments she can do? Can she make up a test? Explain that if she shares her situation with her teachers – like how busy her schedule is with class and cheer – they may be sympathetic and offer to help. The teacher may even offer to help her study after class.

As a coach or captain, don’t wait until the end of the semester to discuss grades. Every few weeks, check in with your team to see how they’re doing with grades and class. Remind your team that it’s crucial that they maintain their GPA, not only to remain on the team but also because school is important!

As much as cheer may feel like your entire world, you can’t ignore class or school. Even though you may be a cheerleader for life, your life and career won’t always be cheer. Always keep the future in mind.

Now tell us! How do you keep your grades up? Do you have any specific tactics or methods? Have you ever helped a teammate with her grades? If so, how did you help?

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A Mud Run for Fundraising? Check It Out!

Nationwide Obstacle Mud Run Designed For Cheerleaders

New Nationwide Obstacle Mud Run Designed Specifically for Cheerleaders and Non-Profit Groups

Fun5KRuns LLC. has launched their new “Muddy Cheer Challenge” obstacle mud run designed specifically for All Star cheerleaders, high school cheerleaders, college cheerleaders and all non-profit groups looking for an easy way to fundraise.

Fun5KRuns’s mission is to host mud run events nationwide for the entire cheerleading world to enjoy along with their families and non-profit groups that are looking for a way to easily raise money while removing all the work and worry for these organizations. This type of fundraising company is the first of its kind in the cheerleading world. Cheerleaders are known to raise funds for their teams and gyms by selling cookie dough, candy bars, organized sleepovers, tumbling and cheer clinics. The founder of Fun5KRuns, Morgan Fairley, a former All Star cheerleader and coach said “Having firsthand knowledge, I know that cheerleaders are always looking for a new and fun way to raise money along with looking for new and exciting ways to promote team bonding. I came up with this concept of The Muddy Cheer Challenge. It is designed to unite gyms, promote team and gym bonding and to give back to the community all at the same time raise money for their teams.”

“We will be working with Brett Stewart, a NCCPT personal trainer, fitness coach, a triathlete and marathoner and author of several fitness books. He and his crew will be designing our obstacle courses with kids, families and everyday people in mind” said Fairley. “This will not be a timed race, but more of a fun mud party for all ages to enjoy. Our goal is to help these gyms, teams and organizations to have fun but also raise money at the same time. We want to put the fun into fundraising while removing all the work and worry. We think we have found a special niche in the business that is unique and innovating. Each group that signs up to be a host at one of our events will get a portion of their runner’s entry fee. The Muddy Cheer Challenge will also be making a donation to a local charity based off the profits of the entire run. Cheerleaders are known to give back to their community, so we are also encouraging non-profit groups, churches and schools to sign up as a host. We are “CHEERing” on the community to participate in this one of a kind event.”

“Our website and facebook page went public on August 20 with six scheduled runs in the southern region of the United Sates for 2014. The response and interest we had on our first day reinforced our belief that this will be a successful endeavor. We have had requests from all over the states to have an event be held in other locations. We are now re-evaluating and looking into doubling our events for 2014.”

The Cheer Challenge is open to all ages. Ages 12 and under are 50% of the adult’s fee and special needs athletes participate for free. Advanced registration is required and the earlier the registration, the more the groups make. Registration begins on January 1, 2014 for the 2014 runs. All participants will receive a Muddy Cheer Challenge T-shirt and a completion medal. There will also be games, music and food for the spectators. Spectators are asked to make a donation of dog or cat food or a pet item that will be donated to a local animal shelter.

For more information on being a host group, sponsor and event registration and schedule, please visit http://muddycheerchallenge.com/ or interact with us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MuddyCheerChallenge.

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Complaining About a Teammate (Without Creating More Drama)

ComplainingSo you’ve got a problem with one of your teammates. She’s bossy, rude, lazy, or something that bothers you. Complaining to your coach about a teammate is tricky. There is a fine line between expressing an issue and making it worse. You want to blow the fire out, not toss in more matches.

Before complaining, consider the following to prevent any misunderstandings or further drama within the cheer squad.

  • Think about… the exact reason for the complaint. Is a teammate being rude? Is she picking on you? Is she bringing down the team’s spirit? Is she being lazy during stunts? Sometimes when you’re having a problem with someone, personal issues can rear their heads. Suddenly, you also don’t like the way she says certain words or the shoes she wears. When you go to your coach to complain, don’t let those personal issues affect the real issues.
  • Ask yourself… if the problem is truly affecting your or a teammate’s performance. As an athlete you need to be mature. Stress or lack of sleep can make you more irritable and you may be nit-picking flaws that aren’t at all relevant. By complaining about something small, you’ll only create more problems for your team.
  • Don’t assume… anything. Let both your brain and your emotions help you make the decision of whether or not to complain. Let’s say that you feel a teammate is picking on you. Don’t assume you’re being too emotional. Although it may seem like a small personal issue, no one deserves to be bullied. If you feel a teammate is picking on you for no reason, you should definitely talk to a parent or coach. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t complain just because a teammate says she doesn’t like your necklace. Be the adult and ignore her.
  • Decide… whether you can solve this problem yourself or if it requires the help of a coach, parent, or other adult. Some small issues might just be a misunderstanding. Depending on the situation, consider talking to the teammate first and seeing if you can resolve things between yourselves. If you feel that will only worsen the situation, go straight to an adult. Some situations need mediators.
  • Plan out… what you’re going to say to your coach. If you haven’t planned what to say, you may forget parts of your concern or not correctly explain the situation.
  • Explain why… the coach or parent needs to be aware of the problem. Make the person you’re reporting the issue to understand the severity of the situation and why it can’t be dealt with by you and/or your fellow cheerleaders.
  • Don’t gossip… after you complain. This should be something between you and the coach until the coach decides what to do. Gossip will only exacerbate the situation and you could end up in trouble.
  • Always keep in mind… that every one is different and every one handles situations differently. Things are always subjective, including these tips. These rules will differ depending on age groups, too. Younger cheerleaders won’t have the maturity to handle conflict on their own, whereas older cheerleaders will be expected to be more of an adult about conflicts. Don’t let the fear of thinking you’re a “tattle tale” or “drama queen” affect your decision. As long as you evaluate the situation, whatever you decide is probably the right thing to do!

Have you ever had to complain about a teammate? How do you handle inner-team conflict?

Our November Reader of the Month is One Amazing Cheer Mom

Cheerleading Blog Reader of the MonthLisa is an example of an amazing cheer parent! This single mom is truly dedicated to her three kids, who she calls her reason for being. Not only is she a cheer mom, but she is also a team mom for her daughter’s squad and has been for the past three years.

As a dedicated parent, it makes sense that Lisa’s favorite Cheerleading Blog article was about cheerleaders and their parents fighting to save their team at their school.

When Lisa isn’t reading Cheerleading Blog or helping her kids, she’s dreaming of taking them somewhere special: Universal Studios! All three of her kids dream of visiting the wonderful amusement park.

As the winner of this month’s Reader of the Month, Lisa will be receiving a package of cheer goodies. We hope she enjoys them!

We are now accepting entries for next month’s Reader of the Month! Lisa is getting a prize package from Chassé Cheer full of great cheer accessories this month. Next month it could be YOU!

Learn how to enter to win next month’s prize!

Special Feature

For some 9 year olds, it’s all about playing dolls and lolling around making loom band bracelets. For young Rylea May van Alhen of New Zealand though, it’s a whole different story! The talented youngster has been...

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