Tagged: cheer

‘Building Year’ Means You Can Always Get Better

2016-17 Boyer Valley Basketball Cheer Roster

  • Daina Rucker, 12
  • Cheyann Wher, 11
  • Christy Nemiela, 11
  • Caleigh Van Houten, 10
  • Lia Adams, 09
  • Maci Segebart, 09
  • Mascot Nick Ahart, 11
What are your expectations of this years basketball squad? (Questions from Christy Nemiela, correspondent for ‘the Voice,’ our student newspaper)
This is seems to be shaping up to be what coaches call a “rebuilding year.” We lost Brittany Shumate to wrestling, Ella Meyer to basketball and Liberty Monk to her job. Olivia Heisted is cheering for wrestling but not for basketball. 
Caleigh Van Houten will cheer for both wrestling and basketball, which means she’ll miss some basketball games. Meanwhile Cheyann Wehr plays basketball, so she can’t cheer for girls games. Cheyann, Daina Rucker and Caleigh are all on drill squad, so we usually lose them for almost a whole quarter during boys home games. That’s kind of the trade-off for being a small school- everyone has the opportunity to participate in more than one thing at a time.
While Daina, Caleigh and Christy Nemiela have all cheered before, none of them have cheered during basketball which is a very different animal than football. We also have two freshmen; Maci Segebart and Lia Adams, who’ve never cheered before at all. We’re going to have Christy and Caleigh work with them as much as we can at practice, but we really need more experienced cheerleaders to help them, but they aren’t available for practice because of their jobs and/or basketball practice.
In spite of all those obstacles, I’m still positive about this season. It takes a lot of courage to get up in front of the crowds (many of whom are your classmates) and try to get them to cheer with you. Christy and Caleigh have proved to me over and over again that they’re willing to put themselves out there no matter what the circumstances are. Cheyann has shown that she can lead, encourage and inspire younger and less experienced cheerleaders even when she’s struggling with her own energy levels and health issues. And Lia and Maci have a lot of enthusiasm for this, even though it can be intimidating.
It’s strange. I’ve been coaching for 24 years now, 16 of them at Boyer Valley. Some years there are more girls interested in cheering for basketball and you can’t get any willing to cheer for football. This year we had eight out for football, but lost strong cheerleaders with experience when it came time for basketball. There have been times when we had steady numbers both seasons for a few years and years when it seemed like no one was interested. I understand basketball can be a bear with games two or sometimes even three times a week and not just on Friday night like football. Away games get late. Buses are cold and gyms are crowded and hot- but that’s how memories are made.

What is one thing that you might be concerned about during games? 
If Cheyann can stay healthy, she’ll be able to pass on her experience. But without her during girls games, I’m concerned about cheerleaders being alert to what’s going on with the game, the officials, and the crowd. They don’t have the instincts they need to start or stop the appropriate chant at the right times. 
For a couple years now I’ve been trying to be on squad’s cases about staying focused. Our job is to lead the crowd in cheers. When we spend too much time chatting with our friends or snacking, it becomes a distraction. Cheer squads really need to watch the game, lead cheers or discuss plans and strategies for the next free throw or time out.  
What is your hope for the crowd?
Experienced cheer squads an mascots can sense when crowds are getting edgy and can distract them or re-direct their energy. I don’t want to sound judgmental, but I’ve been noticing that Boyer Valley fans getting carried away sometimes. Not all the time. Thankfully there haven’t been too many cases of poor sportsmanship, but when you’re really wrapped up in a game, you have to be careful not to go negative. We want to respect out opponents fans, players and coaches. We want to respect our officials and we want to stay proud of our players and let our coaches do the coaching. 
My hope is that our crowds will support our spirit squad and be patient with them as they learn and improve. My hope is that our crowds will continue to support our student athletes with the passion and energy we’ve become accustomed to over the last several years. But my hope for the crowd is also that they’ll maintain a level of sportsmanship and character that makes you proud to be a Bulldog.
Are you gonna try anything new this year or keep it traditional? 
I always encourage squads to pay attention to what other schools do, to see what kinds of things they could copy or adapt. I also encourage them to look for new cheers and chants online and to try and devise their own chants if they want to. Some years this happens naturally, “on-the-fly” during the season, which is really exciting. But right now, I just want to help them build their confidence. We definitely  need to work on our timing and synchronicity with this group. I’m always trying to push squads to be louder and have as deep a pitch as they can. If they can get those fundamentals by mid season, we’ll push further, if they get where they need to be by the end of the season, we’ll have a good foundation to build on next year. That’s the best thing about having freshmen and sophomores on squad, we know that we can always get better.

Don’t Look Down

Here’s something I wrote waaaay back in 2002. I keep it on my Cheer Coach’s Website. When I get negative or down, I need to remind myself of this.

Today’s lesson in church was from Hebrews 12:1-3 reminded me of the importance of focus and of allowing yourself to be encouraged by others.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

In other words, look straight ahead, keep your eye on the prize, trust your squad, and whatever you do, don’t look down.

ChristineXNovember 2002

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but cheerleaders learn it every year, usually in the searing heat and glare of the late summer sun at camp, long before the school year and the football season begin. The lesson is, Don’t look down. Put another way, attitude determines altitude.

Pilots know this. If you raise the aircraft’s nose up, the plane flies up. Cheerleaders have to learn this too; where your eyes go, your body tends to follow. If you look straight ahead at the crowd, you’ll keep your balance, look down, even for an instant, and your body will begin to lean.

Cheer is not the only sport in which this principle applies. A basketball shooter doesn’t watch the ball, to make a basket, they have to focus on the hoop. Golfers can try to follow their ball after they swing, but at that instant they follow through, they’d better be concentrating on where they want the ball to go if they want to avoid a wicked slice.

A few weeks ago PBS host Allan Alda talked to University of Arizona scientists about this on his show, Scientific American. It seems that whether it’s a tennis serve or a volleyball serve or a hunter after a pheasant, the principal is the same- where you look, there you go. Don’t look at the ball, look at where you want it to go, don’t look at the bird, aim at where you expect it to be the moment your shell reaches the same point in space.

If you don’t want to fall, don’t look down. Principles are things that can usually be applied in other areas of life. That’s why sports are good for kids, they learn valuable life lessons without even realizing it- a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Seems there have even been studies that suggest that while you’re walking down the street, if you tend to constantly be looking at the ground, your mood sours, whereas if you look up more, you’ll naturally become more upbeat, less tense, even happy. One theory is that when you look ahead or up, more light can make it into your eyes. In the fall and winter when days get short and clouds hide the sun or people stay inside all day, some people begin to suffer symptoms of what doctors call seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So looking up can literally, physiologically keep you “up.”

Let’s use our “don’t look down” principle as an analogy for other things.

Take people. If we expect the worse, they probably won’t disappoint us. If we’re critical of them or defensive toward them, they’ll treat us as we’ve treated them. If we look for even one good thing in them and appreciate it, we may even bring out the best in them.

Take politics. If a candidate focuses only on what’s wrong about his opponent, he or she only turns off the voter. America is fundamentally an optimistic place, voters want to know what the candidate’s hope and plans and qualifications are. Ever notice how when one person is looking up, everyone else starts looking up? We want to see what they see. “What is that? What are they looking at?” It’s compulsive. That’s leadership.

Take work. If you focus on how hard it is or how unpleasant, it only makes it more unpleasant. Time drags on when you watch the clock. If you focus on a goal or your accomplishments, it’s much easier.

Take business. If you focus on your obstacles, expenses or irate customers, you’re dooming yourself. If you focus on trying to build relationships, and on trying to provide your customers with what they want and need, you’re bound to succeed.

Take religion. There’s Law and Gospel, right? The Law shows us that this world is messed up because people are basically selfish and short sighted. What does that get us? It’s meant to humble us and make us realize that we need God. Great, but if we never stop focusing on how bad we are and how bad everybody is, we’ll never get on with living. The Gospel is the good news that God loves us even though we’re selfish and short-sighted. It shows us that He wants to have a relationship with us and He wants to help us be selfless and broaden our vision.

Take any problem we have or all of life for that matter. Take society in general. If we insist on always being critical or negative, where does that get us. Nowhere, stuck, stagnant, digging downward. But if we look forward or look up, guess what- we’ll at least stand firm and tall, at best, we’ll start moving forward.

Many a cheerleader who has the bruises to prove that “don’t look down” is one of the most important lessons anyone can ever learn.

Competitive Edge; one of 16 team-building blocks

Here is just one entry that I’ve written about John Wooden’s ‘Pyramid of Success’ over the last 14 years for the Cheerleading squads I coach. You can read more of them at either my Cheer Coach’s Blog or at my Website, “Cheer Positive.”

UCLA Coach John Wooden with some of the artifacts that came from his success, which he attributes to his Pyramid of Success.

“’When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ Be at your best when your best is needed. (competitive greatness is a) Real love of a hard battle.” ~John Wooden

Get your game on.
Put your game face on.
Keep your head in the game.
And of course what cheerleader doesn’t know “Bring it on?”
All of these cliches mean the same thing; keep your edge.

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.

All of these mottos mean that the athlete relishes the opportunity to bring all their skill, talent, experience and character to bare on whatever problem or challenge they face.

Coach Wooden says “a hard struggle is to be welcomed, never feared. In fact, when you define success this way, the only thing to fear is your unwillingness to make the full 100% effort to prepare and perform at the highest level of your ability.”

Over 20 years of bus rides, I’ve overheard a lot of conversations between basketball coaches. They talk a lot about who’s giving 100%, 90%, 60%, and 110% both in practices and in games.

Competitive greatness isn’t about winning competitions (especially in cheer, where yeah, there are such a thing as cheerleading competitions, but the whole purpose is really to help the football or basketball players reach their competitive greatness). Competitive greatness isn’t about defeating an opponent or a rival. You can be competitive in an insecure, jealous, selfish, ambitious way like that, but true competitive greatness isn’t about vanquishing enemies- it’s about overcoming obstacles, solving problems, meeting challenges, and accomplishing personal goals.

The love of a hard battle isn’t about destroying enemies or getting attention or power- it’s about sojourning on even when you’re faced with the most difficult trails. It’s about not being lazy, apathetic, or lethargic but industrious, intentional, confident, determined and to bring us full-circle- it means being enthusiastic.

The point, that sharp top (competitive EDGE), the summit of the pyramid isn’t possible without the force of the bricks below it, perhaps most importantly the corner stones of industriousness and enthusiasm- but not as high, not as powerful, and not nearly as meaningful or as successful without friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and team-spirit.

You can jump over a hurdle, avoid it by going around, or plow right through it. Sometimes competitive greatness means having to get a little dirty, it means having to work up a sweat. It means not giving up, even if you do lose. It means moving on and trying again after you have failed.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

That’s why I always want you to keep trying to rev up the crowd no matter how unresponsive they are for your time out and quarter break cheers. And that’s a lesson that will take you far in life. Another old saying says that if you aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll end up in the stars.

Take a look and read through the 15 bricks. Do you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you give it your best? That’s what it means to be a true success.


Whew. Nice problem to have. Min 6/ Max 8 spots and 10 great candidates showed up today, 4 more didn’t show up for today’s practice and I expect 2 of them may still tryout tomorrow.

No doubt Thursday there will be lots of relief nap plenty of heartbreak or hatred. Pray all goes well & I get a group that works well together and works well with me. I’ve been really fortunate to have a great squad this year.

Got any difficult decisions you have to make that effect others? What have you ever had to try out or compete for? Was it worth it?