My 5th grade spring I decided I wanted to try softball. My best friend played, she was a cute little blonde so couldn’t be too hard. Yeah well it was and I sucked. I spent most of the time on bench or right field. When I got to play right field, it was my favorite because the fence was next to the sidewalk and the boys would stand at the fence and talk to me. The cute baseball players at that. That was all I liked about softball. I tried out years later in middle school, they cut one person from team – me. But one thing I learned that spring was how to cheer on teammates. No matter how bad I sucked my teammates were always doing some chant cheering me on when I would go up to the plate to strike out. In the past I have joked that they were just “wanna be cheerleaders” but it’s something you come to expect from softball players.
I was reminded of this during my daughter’s gymnastics practice. The girls were practicing on the bars. One at a time they would do their routine, the others would cheer them on. For the first time I am a season ticket holder for Alabama Gymnastics (last year’s national champions, roll tide, I may add). Every year since I was in college I make at least one meet. When at a meet, the girls not competing at the moment are standing there cheering on their teammate. My favorite is during the floor routine when the others start doing the dance moves. They never stop encouraging their teammates.
My sport of choice throughout my life was cheerleading. Mostly because I’m good at it. Very good at it. I cheered through my middle school & high school years. I have been a coach for 7 years. I’m only a cheer coach for 2 more weeks. I’m a tough coach but have a trophy case full of awards my girls have won. Two things peeve me the most at practice: 1. Only going through motions of routines and 2. When I am working with one stunt group, the other groups just sit and gossip. Sitting at gymnastics last week it hit me, cheerleaders don’t “cheer” each other on like other sports. Last year we went to largest cheer camp in the country and I never recall a squad cheering on the rest of their group trying something new. Never, unless they thought it would get them a spirit stick. But they are the cheerleaders right? Or is that just a title?
So often I see teachers on twitter complain that their administrators or district do not support them, technology, flipped classrooms, etc. We expect them to cheer us on because it goes with their job title, like the cheerleaders. Maybe we need to instead cheer on our teammates and each other. A second basechick’s (is that the girl term?) job is not to cheer on their teammate at bat, but they do. When we help and cheer each other on, encouragement happens. Not just online but in our buildings and those on our team. We have coworkers just as frustrated as we are, give them a little rah rah ree! We have too many “cheerleaders” in schools, not enough cheering teammates.