Monday, May 29, 2017

Cheerleaders ~ Breaking Through & Challenging Change


Competitive Cheer Teams
(not your stereotypical cheerleaders) 


by: Mary Varville-Rodriguez
(pictured here with her daughter, Bella)



My child is a member of a competitive cheer team.  She joined last year after school started due to some family issues and participated in some of their activities.  Starting later than the other team members meant she was limited in competition, but was able to cheer for the various sports teams during side line cheers. She also experienced some of the training involved in choreographed cheers and additional tumbling classes. We were new to this sport and hung on for the ride, all the while observing and absorbing the tremendous dedication poured into the planning of the two time state champion team. This year we intend to step up our game and become more immersed in the competitive side of this sport.  That's right!  This is an intense sport that requires cardio- conditioning, strengthening core muscles that support the lifts, tumbles, and stunts, and stretching to improve/enhance range of motion plus flexibility.


Competitive cheer involves hours of conditioning and practice.  It places demands on each participant's time and energy.  The training never stops.  School just ended, but the cheer team practices throughout the summer.  Two training camps are already scheduled.  Weekend tumbling instruction is also expected at a premier cheer facility run by a multi-award winning coach.  Expenses can run high to compensate the instructors/coaches, use of a special training facility, uniforms, and travel.  There is a significant investment of time and finances when these athletes dedicate themselves to the sport of competitive cheer.


Fundraising for the students involved with the competitive team is a necessary aspect of the budget.  I am working with my child to find ways to manage this component.  We were given customer incentive cards to sell for $20 each.  The card highlights a local pizza business that has six locations.  There are three break away cards.  One has a BOGO offer that is good until next year for multiple visits and the other two include free food items equal to $20 total with no purchase necessary.  So the card really is a good deal if you love pizza.  Seems simple enough to sell, right?  Well, here's what we've discovered:



Fundraising Facts


1. Not many people keep an extra $20 in their wallet
2. Checks are also rare
3. People are willing to donate $1, $5, $10 without the card
4. Individuals are overwhelmed by requests for donations 
5. There's still a stigma attached to being a "cheer leader" even if  you're wearing your warm up
     pants  and the long sleeve shell with school logo versus the short skirts.  


Yesterday I helped my daughter with this fundraising project for her competitive cheer team. I watched as she walked up to an individual, handed her a flyer, and explained her intent. The woman thrust the flyer back at her and said, "I don't like cheerleaders." That got me thinking about stereotypes.  According to an article written by Maggie Marion, (August 22, 2016) https://www.theodysseyonline.com/cheerleaders-breaking-stereotype, when you search the word "cheerleading" for Google images you get pictures of choreographed sports team dancers in revealing clothing.  However, if you search "All Star Cheerleading" you will see competitive cheer leaders who train and fight for world titles and train for thirty hours a week.  I began to wonder if there is a need to re-name "cheerleaders" and update the image that it still represents to many individuals.


Alexa Waddock is a former high school cheerleader who is now majoring in Individualized Marketing at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. She attended a Catholic High School in Manchester, CT and was the cheer captain for their competitive team.  She writes a blog that highlights the stereotypical images of cheerleaders versus the real, intelligent, and athletic individuals who break through the barriers associated with this intense sport.  You can read her insights at https://cheerleadingstereotypes.tumblr.com/ 


Melissa from OMNI Cheer wrote an article that debunks nine myths of cheerleading.(Posted on November 7, 2013 by Melissa in Cheer News, Cheerleading Safety) You can read her article at: http://www.omnicheer.com/blog/post/proving-9-cheerleading-stereotypes-wrong




Read more about breaking stereotypes!


(read this one to the end)

(Things everyone gets totally wrong about cheerleading)
 



These links offer a few articles I found and recommend them to anyone interested in this subject.  Given the challenges that competitive cheer athletes still face, I started to brain storm ideas for how to change the way we view cheerleaders.  A name change?  Here's an idea.  (Thanks to my years working as an Army Civilian where the titles and job descriptions were quite...creative.)



One idea for re-naming the term "Cheerleader"
Competitive Aerodynamic Team Athlete 
copyright 2017 mbvrodriguez


It's not just a name change that's needed.  There needs to be a methodical way to change perceptions  of this intense sport while simultaneously revising the way we present these athletes to our communities.  Fundraisers are great opportunities to promote a different view of the traditional cheerleader persona.  This is also a perfect time to promote an athlete's skills for speaking, interpersonal communication techniques, negotiating, community outreach, marketing, and personal awareness.  The comfort level for fundraising at a football game where one is on familiar territory and feels safe is vastly different from approaching strangers and attempting to convey the purpose of your organization.  


I would love to learn how you have overcome stereotypes, developed fundraising strategies for your children, and what your role has been in teaching your athlete about advocacy both on and off the competitive field.

Thanks for taking time to read and I look forward to having you visit, follow, and share at:






To read more about our story and fundraising efforts, please visit
 Just $1 helps!


(The picture of Bella at age 19 months was a glimpse at the strong, independent young person she is becoming.)


copyright 2017 mbvrodriguez





No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo

I have over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Development Birth-Age 5 including work in classrooms and as an Infant/Toddler Program Manager.  I have several writing projects in progress including a resource book for parents of infants and infant room teachers in a full day child development (school) program.  The book will provide families with information about what to expect and how to monitor their child's progress in an Infant room.  My second book project involves how to cope with family challenges, lessons in forgiveness, dealing with a spouse's addiction, and reinventing yourself along the way.  I am excited about all of these projects and am currently accepting comments regarding experiences my readers have had placing their child into a full day child care program.  I would also like to hear from Infant room teachers.