I am definitely a proud mama, no doubt. I have spent the last 15 years building this program from one beginning cheer class to what it is today—10 teams, five locations, and a competition team that has won the state championship both times they’ve competed in it. And because we've won two times, and we look pretty good on the floor, we have also been the target of some questioning of our program and whether or not we should really be considered a rec program.
I remember at coaches conference one year when a coach made a comment about my team’s “extensive resources.” I was so taken aback by the comment that I didn’t really even respond. But I’ve thought about it over time and I thought I would list out our “extensive resources” as it pertains to our competition team in particular:
Practice time – our competition team practices 1.5 hours a week for nine weeks. We have one Saturday workshop, of which 1.5 hours is dedicated routine practice time (the rest is just work on basic skills). Our competition team members must be members of our stunt team and basic team as well so they get some additional practice time there, but it is on different routines. Bottom line: we have about 15 hours total of dedicated competition practice time.
Practice space – We never know where we will be practicing each week because we share a community center with many other programs. We have been in a small meeting room (with a thin layer of industrial carpet over cement and low-hanging lights, making practice nearly impossible). Then the next week we may have the gym for 30 minutes, followed by a different small room (again with low-hanging light fixtures). We finally were able to practice at the local middle school in the auxiliary gym…unfortunately the industrial floor tiles were not very forgiving.
Mats – we have three cut-up pieces of blue cheer mat, that when you put them together don’t even make one full strip. We end up moving the pieces around during practice to get them under the stunt groups, then move again for under the pyramid. This makes running a routine with correct spacing VERY difficult.
Tumbling – we have no tumbling coach. Our tumbling equipment consists of a wedge and a barrel that I purchased with my own money about nine years ago. We’re still using them! Last year we had two back handsprings in our routine; this year we had five. We train the best we can, and we compete in tumbling divisions, despite our low numbers of tumblers.
I’m glad that we look like we have “extensive resources,” but the truth is, we do the best with what we have, and we work hard with the short time allotted. I guess that is our true RESOURCE—our amazing and dedicated athletes that are willing to put for the effort to whip up a great routine with very little in the way of time, space, and equipment.