One of the greatest times in my life was when I was coaching junior high cheerleading. I felt fulfilled, like I was making a difference in someones life and teaching life lessons. I have a lot of passion for the sport. People don't realize that it is the longest "seasoned" sport. You start in June and finish after tryouts in April. That's a long ass time. And people wonder why cheerleaders are known for being bitchy and backstabbing-be couped up for 2-4 hours a day with the same group of girls for months straight. I was lucky and was able to put most of that type of mentality to rest with my groups. My first group of girls were pretty close-knit. They had all been friends for several years and were used to being on teams together-since most of them were in dance together. It was a fun year and I still get screams of "coachy-pooh" and a tackle/hug when I see one of them. (yes, they called me coachy-pooh-not real sure why-they just did.) It makes me feel good when the parents still come up and talk to me. One of the original cheer mom's works out at my gym. She made sure that I knew that Kelsey was doing great at college and still slept with the pillow I made her for Christmas when she was on my squad-that she refuses to go anywhere without it. I make all my girls a pillow with red and white flannel. I hand embroider a megaphone with their name on the inside. They become iconic I guess.
It makes me feel good to know that I taught life lessons. I constantly preached about self-worth and the fact that boys would always try to get into their pants and that they didn't have to let them-that they were worth more. I was more than once a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to that wouldn't judge. I would simply listen and give advice if they wanted it. I was a mother figure for one of the girls that lost her mother in a terrible car accident just one year prior. She watched her mother die and couldn't do anything about it. She is a strong girl and absolutly amazing. She makes me feel weak in comparison. I will forever love her. I saved a girl from a life of prostitution. Hard to believe I know. But try getting a call from a teacher/friend who found one of your girls purses and it was shoved full of money and condoms. I was instantly sick. She was only 13. I pulled her aside and asked her what was going on. Her mother (who was 27-had a daughter at 13) would routinely kick her out of the house along with her younger sister. They had no family in the area and no where to turn. She would sleep with men for a place for her and her sister to sleep and a warm meal. I knew her mom was trash, but this was bad. I had paid for her cheer camp and took her school clothes shopping earlier in the year. Needless to say-I had to contact children's services-she was mad at me, but she is in a great place now. Living with her grandmother and grandfather in a HUGE, beautiful house in a great school district. That was a trying year.
My last year coaching was my favorite. I had the best group of girls. They were all individuals, but melded together well. My squad only had 8 girls on it....tiny compared to other schools. We still kicked ass at competitions and camp. We took first place at every competition we went to-including one where one of my girls got injured and we had to change all the ripples and formations literally 10 minutes before they took the floor. Panic. It was the best performance of their lives. They scored nearly perfect. I was so proud!
I got the best award of my life while coaching. I've won awards in the past, The Lemke English Honorary Award, Student Affairs Employee of the Year, Unit Coordinator of the Year, but the one that takes the cake in my book is Most Inspirational Coach, given to me by the camp administrator for UCA. I almost cried when my girls ran up and hugged me and told me that they were proud to have me as a coach.
I miss coaching so much. I can't wait til I am able to coach again. I miss it so much. My life feels less full without my "children."