Like many, I had a respect and appreciation for Nicole Woodum, known for years as social media's CA Mamakat (the wise, tell-it-like-it-is cheer mom of a Cheer Athletics' Cheetah and Panther). Except, I didn't know Nicole and Mamakat were the same person.
I read Mamakat's tweets and Fierce Board posts and knew she had vast knowledge of the cheer industry, was admired for her positive and uplifting posts, for her candidness and passion for all things cheer and her children. I knew Nicole as my friend Ryan Sundquist's beautiful, upbeat, beaming girlfriend/now fiance. I also admired her for her positive and uplifting posts, her candidness, passion for all things cheer and her children.
Last week when I read Nicole's Facebook post about the importance of "Showing up" as a parent, I asked her permission to repost it on CheerMAD's Facebook page.
After a bit of talking back and forth, I felt silly when she mentioned that she used to post a lot on social media as Mamakat: how could I not know that?
Well, lucky for CheerMAD readers, now I do. More importantly, I've convinced Nicole to resurrect "Mamakat" which she had retired this year after her daughter Makenzie (MAK) left All Star competition as an athlete (although she now is a coach for Woodlands Elite Cheer Company with five locations out of Houston, where Ryan -seen here with Nicole- also coaches and is the gym's brand manager).
Nicole debuts CheerMAD's "Ask Mamakat" a social media advice column with the sub-title "Living the Cheer Life" with freedom to write about topics that are important to cheer moms and dads. I've always intended to have an advice column as part of CheerMAD's code to support cheer moms and dads, but hadn't had the opportunity to do one until talking with Nicole. Her first blog post follows an introduction of Nicole's credentials: the answer to Suzy's Mom's inevitable outburst of "Who the h&ll is she?" (something we had a good chuckle about because we've both been on the receiving end of that exact pseudo-question. More than a few times).
Well, this is who the h&ll Nicole Woodum, aka CA Mamakat is, in her own words:
I've been in the cheer industry going on 16 years now -15 of those years as a cheer mom and six of those working in the cheer industry. Formerly with Nfinity Athletic and Illusive Apparel, I still work in the industry as the national sales director of A Finishing Touch, out of Houston, Texas. AFT is the premier manufacturer of hair accessories for cheer, dance, and gymnastics across the country.
I served on the USASF Parent Action Committee for two years and wrote several blogs for other cheerleading media sources. I also judge junior high and high school cheer tryouts near my home in Texas.
To say “Cheer runs very deep in Nicole’s family” is an understatement!
My fiancé, Ryan Sundquist, is a former Clemson and University of Louisville cheerleader who won his first Worlds title in 2010. He was also named as one of the industry "Top 35 under 35" and worked for eight years with Varsity. Before making his move to Houston, he was the brand manager at Nfinity Athletic.
As Lisa said, my oldest daughter, Makenzie (MAK), now 20, is a retired Cheer Athletics All Star cheerleader and the reason why I became “CA Mamakat.” Mak ended her cheer career this year with one World Championship title, two Worlds' silver medals and three bronze medals, not to mention five NCA Champion titles, a NCA Grand National title and numerous other titles throughout the years. Mak and her teams also competed at the "by-invitation-only" The Majors and The Champions League. She was also a jr. high and high school cheerleader until graduation in 2014. Mak is now continuing her passion for cheerleading as a tumbling, camp and All Star coach at Woodlands Elite.
Mak's little sisters, Katie, 17 and Emmie, 16, were also once upon a time All Star cheerleaders! Kate hung up her cheer shoes after being a high school cheerleader her freshman year. Now a senior, she is focusing on choir and her studies getting ready to apply for college. They are both participating in clubs at their high school and enjoying hanging out with friends.
And last but not least, there is Jaxson, my 11 year old son and baby of the family, who plays football. Jax has been going to cheer competitions since birth!
I am so excited to be writing again and hope you enjoy following me on this new adventure!
Living the Cheer Life
Nicole (front left) and Ryan (back left) and Mak, Kate, Emmie and Jax a few weeks ago on vacation.
At the end of the day, I want my kids to say 'my mom never missed anything.'
A simple sentence, yes, but one that means so much! That's why I will always show up for my kids.
So, this is how this post came about... And it wasn't even cheer related, which is odd! Haha!
I was asked to have dinner with my boss and a potential customer one night which happened to be the first parent meeting and practice for my son Jaxson's fall football team. He is 11. For a brief minute I thought to myself "I'm sure I could get the team info from the team mom and I know I could get Jax a ride... It's just a practice."
So, a little background...My fiancé, Ryan, is the director of brand development and a coach at Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. so he isn't able to do most Monday through Thursday evening events. My oldest daughter, Mak, 20 years old, is a retired Cheer Athletics cheerleader, and is now a cheer coach at Woodlands Elite. After 15 years, she has hung up her Nfinity's -- for this season anyway... Haha! Evenings she works at the gym so she wouldn't be able to take him. My 17-year old, Kate, who is sometimes my Jax taxi cab. Well, she was at Which Which working. And my 16-year old Emmie, isn't quite ready to drive so she is car less. Yes, I have 4 kids!! Oh and Jaxson's dad...You might ask, where is he? Well, that's a whole other blog! Haha!!
Anyway, getting back to the point of all of this...
So, as I was running through different scenarios in my head, it hit me...
What am I thinking?!!
I am not missing Jax's team meeting or practice. He comes first, my kids come first!
So, I decided that his football practice and team meeting was more important at the end of the day. I didn't want to let him down but also, I wanted to be there! I wanted him to know he could count on me! Also, I want to know what's going on, meet other parents, watch him do his thing! I want him, along with my girls to always say "my mom was always there"... Even for the small things. Hence where the post came from! TA DA! (Big drum) *laugh out loud...literally!
Now, I know it's really easy to get caught up, to get bogged down by life that we forget as parents that we only get a small window to make a difference with our kids! A short time to get our point across, to correct them, to nurture them and teach them right from wrong. We have a short amount of time to help them be good people!
Now, don't get me wrong, I have missed things. There were times when the girls were younger that I let my work, personal and single mom life get in the way. I made mistakes, a lot of them... like we all do but now, looking back, I am just glad I woke up! Lol! I think that's why I am so passionate about this.
Showing your kids that you care about their interests, their school activities, their friends and just their life, means so much to them! And I'm not just talking about cheer competitions! And no, sitting in the parent room isn't a must! Lol! In fact, just dropping them off saying "have a great practice and I love you" goes a long way! Especially at a young age!
Remember, once they drive themselves, those days are over! You can't get it back! You just show up to show offs and special gym events and let them fly! So...cherish the little things! Cherish watching them compete and the smiles on their faces when they come off the mat! Time flies ya'll!
And to all you cheer moms who have other kids who do other sports and activities, I have this advice... Make sure you make those kiddos feel just as important as your cheerleaders! They need the support too! They need you to show up! Because, in our lives as parents, we have the most important job ever and that is to SHOW UP!! I challenge all of you this season to stay positive, be active in all the roles of parenting, be their rocks, their supporters and their cheerleaders! One day they will thank you for being there no matter what! Until next time.... XXOO~ Nicole aka Mamakat
To submit a question to appear in "Ask Mamakat" email Certifiably@CheerMAD.com
You can also follow her on social media:
Twitter - @gypsysoullife
Instagram – gypsysoul4l