EEKS…it’s finally here…the ASA Regional Cheer Competition! If you have been following the blog for even just a short while you may have read something about cheer. That would be because we have been living and breathing cheer since August 1st. Here are some fun cheer facts: between the 4 of us on the blog we have six cheerleaders (we also have two other close friends who have been an important part of our cheer “village”, so let’s just say 8 girls) our girls have practiced anywhere from two to four times a week in addition to a weekly football game, and I don’t have exact numbers here but our village of cheer moms have probably sent no less than 856,249 texts to eachother about cheer and its logistics! With all that said it has been an amazing experience and I really want to share some really cool things us moms have noticed in our preteen daughters throughout this season, and how much of this totally surprised me! First, let me tell you about ASA and how it operates. ASA or Apex Sports Authority is the Pop Warner division for our area. Here is the thing about Pop Warner…it is almost entirely volunteer run (there are only a handful of paid positions in the whole country)! Every coach, gate attendant, concession worker, and comissioner is a volunteer. I can’t even imagine the hours our coaches and commissioners have put in. I felt like my personal commitment of putting hair in high ponies and getting them to practice was equivalent to a full time job. Our coaches put in triple the time….choreographing cheers, updating parents with emails, attending practices and games. And this is the stuff we know about. I’m sure there is plenty of behind the scenes stuff that takes time and attention. THANK YOU! I dedicate this post to our ASA cheer coaches, commissioners, and to anyone who has ever coached children in any capacity.
This was our first year with ASA. My two older girls really wanted to try it out. I was all for it for my 8 year old. She has always been into dance and gymnastics, but I wasn’t so enthusiastic about my 11 year old cheering. She has been a year round swimmer for years. She’s a good swimmer and we have invested a lot of time and money into swim, but in the last year I was having to drag her to practice. It was getting miserable for both of us! I wasn’t completely ready for her to give up swim so when the cheer idea came up we decided she would cheer in the fall and join a swim league with a shorter season in the winter. I will be honest and say one reason I was hesitant about choosing cheer over swim was the fitness aspect. My girl likes to read and relax in her spare time. I’m generally ok with this because I know she works hard at swim practice. Would she get the same workout in cheer??? The answer is YES. The first two weeks of cheer were straight up conditioning. The girls practiced every night except weekends for two hours! This included running, tumbling, and learning a gazillion new cheers. It was also August and hot. My girl now has crazy upper body strength and muscles. For fun she carries her sister around on her shoulder. She even asked me if she could lift weights to get stronger. This is coming from a kid who isn’t usually a fan of putting in any extra practice or work. So, lesson learned for me! Cheerleading is most definitely a workout.
I also see a huge difference in her character. I swear she has a stronger work ethic. My friends have also noticed this with their daughters. My kid has traded in iPod hours for tumbling around the house. I love my friend Jasmin’s story about her girls “playing cheer”. The cheer daughter will “coach” her younger sister. Now we know what the coaches say at practice and it’s hilarious! There is apparently a lot of “STOP! JUST STOP….now go back and do it again”! (THANK YOU COACHES!!!!).
In closing I want to leave you with the most surprising effects cheer has had on my girls. My eight year old can be funny when it comes to attention. I wouldn’t say she’s shy, but can be awkward when all eyes are on her. Wouldn’t you know she was front and center at cheer. She even had her own little stunt she did that made her stand out more. It was so fun to see her come out of her shell! The next surprising effect was on my older daughter. A few weeks ago she started her new swim team and guess what?? No drama going to practice! I think having a swim break was great for her and she really likes her new team, but she also has a stronger work ethic. Cheer is all about teamwork and she has done things that were all brand new to her. She’s the type who just likes to be good at things naturally. Cheer pushed her out of her comfort zone, and she has more of an appreciation of what hard work can get you. And that’s just the mental part….she was also physically prepared for swim. Any other time she’s ever had a lengthy break from swim it’s been obvious. She looked strong and focused!
So, I am so grateful for our first cheer season. I have loved watching all the girls grow and I have made some great friends too…..there is no way I could have done any of this without my cheer mom village so Thank You! And if I haven’t mentioned it yet THANK YOU to all the coaches and volunteers!! Now, stayed tuned to see if our girls make it to Disney (competition is Friday). I can blog about how many calories we burn walking the parks and Korinne can show us the latest trends in Mouse Ears😉