Thursday, August 18, 2011

Random bits of week

Wed. there were calves in the road, only in Iowa!

Today, one of my 4 cheerleaders quit- before our first game. Ah, but tonight we had home grown tomatoes.

Saturday we're going to the greatest state fair on Earth!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Here comes the new season, not sure I'm ready

I have been coaching cheerleading since 1994. Sometimes it's a hassle, sometimes it's the most incredible opportunity in the world. Once upon a time I thought I should blog about it, maybe write a book someday- they're aren't a lot of male cheer coaches that I'm aware of. But I haven't been keeping up either that blog, or this one. I decided that maybe one problem was that I was writing for an imagined audience that wasn't there, while simultaneously being worried that anyone would read it.

So I've done two things. I adjusted my feed, so that this blog will no longer automatically post on my facebook account and I merged the two blogs. This one may as well include all my writing, not just poetry and politics. When I actually bother to write something I want to share on facebook, I'll just do that manually. I'll still try not to get too out of hand in the event that someone have a cow over something I post here, but my hope it that it will give me a little more freedom to open up and be real, like a journal.

I guess I'm not ready to fold my religious blog, into this one yet, just because it really has taken on a life of it's own. It's not that I want to compartmentalize my faith life, separate from everything else, it's just that it actually has some readers and kind of a following, which neither this blog or the old "Papa Bear" blog seem to. Anyway, here is what may be the last post on that blog, and perhaps the first of many dealing with coaching cheer that will start showing up here.

Originally posted on

I'm really tempted to just fold this blog into my main blog,
I feel like when I really use it, it's more to just vent than to document- let alone build anything book worthy. When I use it to vent, I'm being too reactionary. It seems like rather than relieve my stress, I feel like it only makes me more wound up. It misrepresents how negative coaching cheer can be when actually it's always been an overall very meaningful and rewarding experience for me. And of course, there's always the risk that students or parents that I write about might be offended.

Like at the beginning of the summer when the mother of a Freshman candidate was so livid with me for not putting her on the squad. It was unfair that her grandfather's funeral was the day that tryouts had been scheduled, but she hadn't turned in a permission form or teacher-recommendation forms which had been due a week before and had been available for almost two months before.

The real issue was that she was academically ineligible. I double-checked the policy and touched base with both our guidance counselor and our principal to make sure I was as clear as I could be with the parent. To be honest, the child can be a divisive, volatile, and disrespectful tiger. She's let her anger get away from her and used obscenity in uniform before while on junior high cheer- but even if she was perfect, her grades would've kept her off.

But that's the kind of conflict that both makes me wonder how many more years I want to continue coaching cheer and makes me question the wisdom of trying to blog about it (even when I try to protect the identities of the kids I work with.

Facebook and Twitter are shorter, easier and more immediate, making blogging something that I'm not as disciplined at as I used to be. Life gets pretty busy too. All summer I thought I'd write but instead was caught up in church and family activities. And school is about to start, which will make things incredibly busy again.

It seems like we've never had the first football game for a week or so after school had gotten started. This year our first home game is next Friday, school starts Wednesday! Three of my four cheerleaders are scared to have to perform at the first pep rally. I can't blame them.

The pep band won't be playing at the game that night. Our principal actually left it up to me whether or not to even have a pep rally. I really think we should, but I don't know if I should push the girls too hard if they're not ready.

One, a Junior, was even ready to quit earlier this week.

"i really didnt wanna do it in the first place but (Senior) was pressuring me so i thought i would give it a try but now im having second thougts because im really not the cheerleading type i like cheering from the stands...and i hate being in front of crowds like at pep rallys i cant do sorry," she told me.

I was having a heart attack.

I did my best to convince the Junior, "You're telling me that (Freshman Z), (Senior B), and (Sophomore R) ARE "cheerleader types" and you're not? (each example was a former cheerleader who was shy, awkward, or socially isolated). They're willing to get in front of people, but you're afraid to? Kiddo, you're smart, you're responsible, and you're gorgeous. Pep Rallies are nothing to be afraid of- let (Senior) carry them and just go along with the ride, they're fast and most kids who've cheered (like B, Z, and R) wind up actually thinking they're fun.
You're a natural leader and really fun. If you can handle Drill, Cheer will be a piece of cake.

I still think you should at least try a game or two. But, I understand how it can feel to be pressured so just like I said before, ultimately it's up to you- but I can tell you, if you can conquer this challenge (and I totally believe you can) you will come away with confidence and poise like you wouldn't believe. Doing this can put you over the top- it can be the difference between being kind of a leader and a majorly powerful woman who'll take on the world. If you bite down hard and try this this one short season, it'll be all gain for you.

Think on it, pray on it. Talk to someone you trust, adult or friend about it and let me know next week. I'll totally back off and not tease you or try to make you feel guilty (like how I tried to pressure Katie last year). But I really think you'll be great at this and this could be great for you."

Poise and Confidence are a couple of blocks on John Wooden's Pyramid of Success. I truly believe that these are powerful gifts that cheerleading can bestow on kids and I meant every word I said to her. But let's face it, I didn't want to go from 4 to only 3 (especially since one of the 3 is still pretty iffy). And I'll be honest, I'm not keen on the prospect of having Senior B or the "tiger" Freshman on squad this season either, if only because neither works well with the Senior we do have.

Fortunately, she tentatively agreed to give it a try. One of our Freshmen is really just giving it a try too ("iffy"), her true love is volleyball and her mother is nervous about her being too involved in too many things.

If you're actually a regular reader, or one of my friends or former cheerleaders that I shared this blog with, I'd sure appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts. Like every year. (:

This is the most I've written here in months and I really SHOULD be preparing lessons for next week. So anyway, if you come looking for this blog and don't find it, head on over to and just run a search for "cheer," or "coaching," or "Pappa Bear" and you should still be able to find this kind of entry once in a while.