Rachel's first of three NCA jackets in levels Y2, Y3 and Jr. R5 became part of NCA's "MY NCA Jacket" campaign
This will be Rachel's fifth National Cheerleaders Association Allstar competition. As a cheer mom, I've seen the highs, the lows and the "no-nos."
We actually started out with a "low."
The first year we traveled to Dallas was in 2012 when Rachel was on a Youth 2 team called the PRO Athletics Showstoppers. They had just won CHEERSPORT and every competition before it that season. What can you say to a bunch of eight, nine and ten year-olds when their team places second by .001 of a point? As parents, we hugged them. Their coach motivated them, as Holly Boulay later put the second place trophy in the middle of the gym floor with the sign "Is this good enough for you?" and the team ran laps around it throughout the next season.
We would all love to post pictures on our timeline of our kids sporting blinged-out black jackets. As tough as awards are, it's even worse at the airport when a seemingly endless flow of jacket-clad athletes leave Dallas, or worse, when members of a winning team are on the same flight home carrying the gigantic trophy. Been there.
Talented kids aged off or progressed up onto other teams. Showstoppers Y3 returned, including Rachel, the next year and won the jackets. Holly would take the Youth level Showstoppers back to NCA two more times and would win both. I don't know for sure, but those "Highs" might not have occurred had that major "Low" not happened. Failure is a great motivator, or as my mom always says "It's not what happens to you in life, but how you handle it that makes the difference."
Last year PRO Showstoppers competed at NCA as a Small Junior Restricted Level 5 team. Practicing like soldiers, all they wanted to do was make their coach Jason Graham PROud of them. No one was quite sure what to expect of this brand new Restricted 5 division, but the Showstoppers lived up to its name and reputation and made us all proud when they became NCA champions once more. It's amazing to think back though the years as they progressed but these five, Level 5 kids (pictured below: Gabe, Abbie, Angie, Julz and Rachel) were on that first "loosing" Y2 Showstopper team.
This season, these once little kids who came in second place by .001 of a point will compete this weekend at NCA as members of Pro Athletics' PROED (Gabe, Abbie and Julz aer on Small Senior 5 Coed which has a full paid bid to Worlds) and Sr. Fierce (Rachel and Angie are on Large Senior R5 Coed which is going to the Summit). Now teenagers on level five teams, inside each one of them is that eight or nine year old youth with the determination to get on that mat and make parents, coaches and most importantly themselves proud.
And that's worth way more than any jacket.
You see, as a veteran cheer mom of 17 years, I've seen, if not it all, ALOT!
The highest high didn't even happen at NCA but, for me, happened when my two daughters won their CHEERSPORT jackets the same year: My oldest daughter Becky won it as a "Super Senior" her last year in cheer, Rachel in her first year as a mini.
But winning their NCA jackets together: Becky as a coach and Rachel as athlete, was pretty great too!
It's been two very different experiences for this one cheer mom. Becky had the love, the passion and the exuberance for Allstars but try as she did, didn't win her first National Championship sweatshirt until her fourth year in Allstars. I've driven home after many practices, comps and flights with a very disappointed, discouraged and/or angry athlete.
I learned it's best to try not to "fix" everything but to just shut my mouth and listen (sooooo hard to do).
Here's some more hard-learned wisdom from this cheer mom warrior.
-The work is worth it but the work doesn't guarantee a jacket.
-NEVER get caught up in the mama drama.
-Most of these kids are hard enough on themselves and don’t need us to compound it.
-Stop rushing your kids to be on teams that YOU want them to be on.
-Trust in the coaches and owners that they know what is best for a team and a gym (I broke this once and, let's just say it wasn't good).
-Be their parent, not their coach.
-When they come off the mat after a tough performance, they need a HUG not a lecture.
-If they’ve just had the performance of a lifetime, celebrate with them, not for them.
-Allstars is a very expensive endeavor. So click on this link "Go CheerMAD in Dallas" and check "Going" for a chance to win free stuff including gift cards worth $450. I'd love, love, love to meet you and will be at Rebel's Dallas Dream Boutique at the Bank of America Plaza, 901 Main St. and the Cheerleader Row-deo at Eddie Deen's at 944 Laramar St. Follow that link for schedule.
-Comps aren't vacations. But here's a link put out by the Dallas Visitors Bureau of things to do and places to go. We have to eat after all. To Do In Dallas