Mark’s Cheer Journal – Part 3

School is beginning back up here in KY and with it each of OUR – if you are keeping up with these journals, then I will give you some ownership too – three teams is starting to return to some sense of practice normalcy. This summer has been a mixed bag for each of our teams, and it will be nice to return to practices where we can expect everyone to be there! I don’t think any of our three teams have had many practices in the past month with all people present. I don’t know if any of the teams has had a single practice in July with everyone there. Fortunately, lots of work has still been accomplished, and I am very pleased with each of our teams thus far. We didn’t get to talk about Boyd County much last month, so we will start there.

The biggest challenges facing Boyd County over the past few years has been finding some sort of consistency and stability. Boyd has had three different head coaches the past three years and also had multiple people quit mid season each year. We have just had a really difficult time keeping kids on the team. I would say one major reason is that, when I came onboard, I immediately raised the level of commitment and also raised the minimum tumbling requirements to compete – a standing back tuck. Several kids were thrown by this. They had never been made to work that hard and never had so much asked of them. There was an adjustment period for everyone on the team, but several were not prepared to make that kind of commitment. Now that the standard has been set, we have a hard time finding kids willing to work that hard.

As a choreographer and part-time coach for Boyd County HS – I drive 2 hours to Ashland about once a week to work with them, I have tried to set consistent standards and establish a foundation for a program with a revolving door for a head coach. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the easy job and I understand why it is hard to keep head coaches. In fact, I was a sponsor/head cheer coach for a high school team for six weeks once… SIX. WEEKS. ONCE. I have the greatest respect and at the same time the deepest sympathy for cheer team sponsors.

When I started working with Boyd a little over three years ago, we had over 20 people on the team. Six quit that year and we ended up competing as Medium Varsity with 16. The next year we had several more defect and we completed as Medium with only 15 people. Last year, we had several not come back at tryouts, had one quit in October, one get kicked off because of behavior, and as a result we completed as Small Varsity. Oh, and we also had an injury to a girl who tore ligaments in her ankle and had surgery because she stepped in a hole in her yard. Parent drama – check. Adversity – been in line for a while. Trials and tribulations – bought the CD. And don’t get me wrong. These types of things happen to just about every team just about every season. But at least now you know that Boyd County is right there with everyone else fighting the “good fight”.

This summer, Boyd has been bitten by the injury bug again and it has really held back progress for one of their stunt groups. One of our flyers broke a bone in her hand and was supposed to be out six weeks. Six weeks came and went and then they decided that she needed surgery. Now, she is out until October. Hopefully, when she gets back her stunt group will be able to jump right back into things. She is a third year flyer and her group was actually fortunately hitting the elite sequence at camp. So, if we had to lose a top girl to injury, she would have been the one that we could most afford to lose.

In the meantime, we have two stunt groups that are really doing well. One group has a freshman flyer who is really starting to come into her own. I was a little worried when she came in because she was little and easy to pick up, but it was obvious that her being tiny had allowed her to be loose and not hear much grief from her bases. “Little girl” syndrome sometime takes some time to overcome, but she is really coming along – and faster than I first thought. Our other group has a senior flyer and they are also finally catching up after struggling for the first few months. I know it has been hard on the flyer because she has been one of our most consistent flyers the past two years. She has really done a great job being patient and waiting for her TWO rookie bases to learn their roles.

So far, I have been really pleased with the summer progress of all of our teams. Each is on very different paths to what each hopes will end in a national championship. At this point, I don’t think that that goal is unattainable for any of our teams. However, we still have a lot of work to do on each team and we are just now hitting the first “straight-away” of the season. I travel to Western Kentucky this week to finish the routines of Reidland and Graves County. So, next month, I will have some more insight on those two teams.

Make the most of each practice!

Mark Coleman