Monthly Archives: November 2012

Making A List And Checking It Twice.

ImageTis the season….With the holidays upon all of us, our plates are getting full – and not just with food! By now, almost everyone has had one competition under their belt and is gearing up for their first two day competition of the season. As if that’s not stressful enough, add school and homework, more intense practices, balancing family and friends, and still managing to log numerous hours on social media to the mix. Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day and you still have to find time to sleep! How is it even possible?

Breakfast, school, snack, homework, practice, dinner, study, sleep Zzzzz…  REPEAT. This sounds all too familiar for the competitive cheerleader and something that has become somewhat second nature to us all. As humans, we are born with a natural competitive drive to succeed, and more often than not, we spread ourselves too thin in the pursuit of being successful.

For those of you who are old enough to remember the iconic television series Saved by ImagetheBell, Jessie Spano said it best, “No time! There’s never any time…” Oh, but there is time. It’s all about how you manage it. It always seems like right around the holidays everyone starts making lists: a list for the grocery store, a list of gifts to buy, a list of things you want, a list of people to invite to a party, etc. The lists literally go on and on. But one list that will especially help you this holiday season is one that helps you manage your time.

There is just something awesome about making a list and checking it twice, only to see that every task you had written down was completed! Personally, I get very “list happy” in life, but the way I keep focus is by prioritizing everything I have to do. This is how I do it:

  1. Jot down any and all personal tasks that need to be completed.
  2. Number them by importance.
  3. Decide how many you want to accomplish in that particular day.
  4. Reward yourself when you have checked everything of your list.

ImagePrioritizing is most important when making lists. Here at The JAM Brands, one of our CORE Values is Achieve More with Less. We believe that it’s better to do 10 things well at 100% than it is to do 50 things at 25% effort. When you put your main focus on the tasks that are most important, life is simplified, and you are LESS stressed. AHH, feel better? Focusing is relaxing!

This is the time of your life when your plate is full with school, extra curricular activities, and maintaining a social life. Athlete, Kailey Nicole Williamson, says it best, “I work hard in school so that I have little homework, then I go to practice and practice as hard as I can. Then I go home, study, shower, get bed and do it all over again! I usually hang out with friends on the weekends when I’m not at a competition. It takes a lot of work and organization, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

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You cannot make time for everything and everyone, but you can set your priorities up so that you work smarter, not harder, and achieve success!

 

Griffin Myers – Southest JAMcare Rep

“Pacific Coast Magic- Mysterious: You are invited to the most selective cheer event in the world.”

“Pacific Coast Magic- Mysterious: You are invited to the most selective cheer event in the world.”

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I am 15 year old Megan Barney, a flyer from Pacific Coast Magic Mysterious and within my gym I am Imageknown as Barney due to my unique last name.  As you may have heard, PCM Mysterious has been invited to the exclusive, invitational competition known as the Majors. As a team we were not only honored but also filled with excitement upon request to attend this compelling event. I am personally very academic and put priority to not only my cheerleading passion but also my education. Therefore, to me personally this not only provides a beyond exceptional opportunity within my 2012-2013 cheerleading season, but also requires me to be absent from school. Typically my out-of-state travel time doesn’t provide for half the time needed to complete homework and school work that is required of me when I am away from school.  Because I am currently taking 5 AP classes and am aiming to maintain my high GPA, this results in late nights and early mornings prior to my return to school. However, those late nights and early mornings are way beyond worth the thrill and adrenaline received at a big out-of-state competition.

         My season as a member of Pacific Coast Magic Mysterious didn’t officially start until soon before we attended Woodward West for our annual choreography camp. This is because since my second season of All-star cheerleading I have accumulated various ankle problems and these ankle problems have required me to have reconstructive ankle surgery and impingement removal. My ankles have given me a large setback on my tumbling improvement and I have still yet to regain all of my individual tumbling skills that I once acquired preceding my surgery. ImageThe Majors is quickly approaching and is providing me with much motivation in order to regain my previous skills and further improve individually. Although my ankles have set me back, I will not let them get in the way of accomplishing my goals throughout preparation for the 2013 Majors.

         As a team, with this competition just around the corner, we are constantly being pushed beyond our limits at practice in order to prepare for this prestigious event. Our team consists of only 12 returners, thus 8 new team members. This plays into effect because those 8 new members are still learning what it takes to be a member of this team. We are still improving our work ethic as a whole so that we can excel beyond previous years. At practices we are constantly cleaning our routine and running routine after routine to train for the Majors.

          Pacific Coast Magic Mysterious is more than just a team to me, they are also my family. We are constantly depending on one another for encouragement and motivation. There is defiantly friendly competition within our team; however that just makes us push harder through blood, sweat, and tears. My favorite thing that our team does is we have team sleepovers and team functions so that we can enjoy each other’s presence not only inside the gym but also outside the gym. So with that I guess you can say I don’t only have a team and a second family, but also 21 best friends. Yes, 21. Mysterious not Imageonly consists of the 20 athletes present on the mat, but also our two alternates. They are just as important to our team as the 20 that compete because they push us and motivate us to do our best at each practice. I have been on Mysterious since the 2010-2011 season and in the beginning of that first season I started off as one of the alternates, but through determination and hard work I was soon acknowledged as an official member. So with that, I am forever grateful to be a member of Mysterious because I understand that it is a privilege to be on such a talented team. It is hands down one of the best feelings to have a younger girl from a lower level team at your gym greet you with a warm smile and tight hug the second you step into the gym. This feeling reminds me that everyone not on a Worlds team is aiming to be on one in the future and of the importance to be a role model through work ethic for those younger girls who aspire to be on a level 5 team.

 I cannot wait to compete at the Majors! Thanks for reading!

Megan Barney-Pacific Coast Magic- Mysterious

@MAJORSmegan

“Okay everyone set up, FULL OUT!”

“Okay everyone set up, full out!”

Sorry I was thinking about practice again. Oh and by the way this is 15 year-old Jenee Cruise from California Allstars Smoed. Anyway, those words are what come to mind when I think about practice, especially now that competition season is here (finally!) and there’s so many big competitions that we get to attend this year.

Didn’t you hear?

Smoed got invited to The MAJORS! We were all so excited and honored when we found out. However, that means another big, out of state competition. Even though we are super excited, Smoed has to stay focused and work extra hard to make sure that we are on top of our game by then.

I definitely don’t live an average life, even for a cheerleader. First of all, I live two hours away from the gym and since we have practice three times a week I spend an average of twelve hours in the car. Then there are the extra practices before competitions! Some people might think that driving two hours each way to cheer is crazy. Well, it is crazy, but definitely worth it! Smoed is more than just my team, but my family, so I’m always happy to see them and cheer is such a huge part of my life, so I’m willing to do pretty much whatever it takes to be successful.

I’ve yet to mention what’s probably one of the biggest things about me – I’m a type one diabetic and have been since I was six years-old. I could consider it a major setback or negative thing in my life and I’m sure no one would blame me if I did. However, I don’t like to look at it that way and maybe that’s because I’m older and have had it for nine years now. Either way I try my best to consider myself just like anybody else and sometimes I even consider it a blessing. For example, having diabetes doesn’t allow me to eat much sugar. Between that and being a flyer, I’ve turned into a genuinely healthy eater, which is good for my health and bases! I also try to just have a positive outlook on life and remember everything that God has blessed me with. I definitely never have and never will let diabetes get in the way of my dreams.

Thanks for reading!

Jenee Cruise – California All Stars – Smoed

@MAJORSjenee

Your WHY Influences Their DO

Aside from my social media sites being less filled with opinions, comments, and postings about political feelings – one thing we can all take in from the recent election is our own actions and what it does to others. For many of us, the beautiful thing about our electoral system is the beauty of a choice: we are afforded the opportunity to choose – our leaders, the issues, and our reactions. In our spirit industry, we are faced with a similar choice.

ImageOver the last 24 hours you have seen, heard or read at least one friend (or follower on social media) who might have overstepped their boundaries with reactions to Election Day. Whether they are gloating and relishing in a political victory, or complaining and being dramatic about a party lose, I think we can all agree that it is anything but classy.

As I came to work today, I began to think about how similar this is to cheer and dance events. One of my least favorite parts of my job (and perhaps one of the least talked about in the industry as a whole) is dealing with coaches, owners, and parents who react to things in poor taste. If you read my first blog, you learned how I have been on every possible side of the fence in this industry (coach, director, choreographer, event producer, judge, etc.). I really try to keep this in mind when I am dealing with problems. One thing I do wish we would all bring more attention to is our own reactions when things go wrong.

How, when there is a young child present, a parent could use foul language to another when their child messed up in a stunt sequence is beyond me. How a coach approaches our staff after a hard lose with a sense of distain and nastiness is crazy to me. When did it become acceptable to talk to anyone, especially someone you want help from (think about that), with mean and hurtful words?

For parents, realize your only job at a cheer or dance competition is to look at your child after they have finished performing, good or bad, is to say, “I loved watching you perform today!” Your job is not to remind them of their mess ups. Your job is not to criticize another athlete on their team. Your job is not to speak ill of their coach. Your job, your only job, is to reassure your child that they just made you proud.

For coaches and owners, I can’t speak for any other event producer in this industry, but I can promiseImage you that any coach or parent or owner who comes to a member of our staff with respect, dignity, and integrity will not only be listened to, but also treated with the same respect, dignity and integrity that they are conveying. I can also promise you that coming up to anyone (at a cheer event or the grocery store) with a calm yet vested interest in what you are inquiring about will get you a lot further than foul language and preemptive threats (if I had a nickel for every time I have heard, “You must do this for us or we will pull our teams from all the rest of your events”…)

Perhaps the hardest part of all of this, though, is the ability to actually follow through with your expectations of your program. Part of me wishes I could video tape coaches or parents at events and show them these videos a week or so later. There are plenty of programs who consistently talk of acting in a positive light, who require their athletes to never step out of line, but who are the first ones to act like a wild mob at events.

It is so upsetting to know that so many great programs in our industry can’t live up to their own expectations.

Luckily, with my job, I get to travel to almost every inch of this country and I get to see programs from all walks of life. Through all of my travels, I am always happy when I see programs that live up to their own expectations. For example, when Orson Sykes from Twist & Shout (OK) has a problem at an event, I will 100% always be willing to listen and help. Why? Because he and his staff ALWAYS approach me and my staff rationally, calm, and without immediately throwing out threats. They get it. They understand that if they want their athletes to be upstanding role models in this industry, they need to be upstanding role models as the example. Am I going to go the extra step for them to help with their questions because they treat me with respect? Absolutely.

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All in all, I hope that Election Day went the way you wanted. For nearly 50% of you, it did not. For the other nearly 50% who it did work out for, I hope you are reacting respectfully to your peers. I do hope that 100% of you carry yourselves with integrity and dignity and respect everyone else. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all carry this over into event season? Don’t allow yourself to get mad, don’t allow yourself to overreact. Be the coach who keeps a calm head. Be the parent who lifts up an athlete after they mess up. Be the owner who seeks the solution rather than flipping out over the problem. Be the example you want your athletes to grow into one day.

You are shaping young, impressionable minds for the future – promise me that our future will be bright.

Chad Lemon – Central US JAMcare Rep

Competition is IMPORTANT!

We know that being involved in sports, especially a competitive sport has proven benefits for all involved.  From physical benefits to mental as well as social.  Being involved in a competitive sport improves the lives of the coaches, athletes and families that support them.  There is a difference in being a recreational sport and being competitive.  While sometimes in our industry we like to try to merge the two, we are undeniably competitive by nature.

Our “seasons” revolve around competition.  Your athletes train hard to improve their skills to make your teams more competitive.  All summer we learn the choreography we are going to compete.  This is all common knowledge, right? 

Then why is it that some teams still want that easy win?  Why are teams hiding from events with deep divisions?  Or avoiding events that are well attended by other local teams?

Remember that I said “competition” is important, not winning.  There is more value gained from going up against a lot of teams and coming in 2nd or 10th than it is to win against yourself.  I know you see it every day: many kids get whatever they want.  If they are taught that winning is important, then they will want to win, and you as a coach will be forced to find events that allow them to win.  But what would happen to your team or your program if you redirected the desire to win into the desire to achieve your personal best?  If you teach that philosophy of working hard to be your best self, it will translate easily and positively into their adult lives.  If goals are realistic and attainable, athletes will feel and be successful even when they don’t win.  Kids need to be pushed and encouraged to build their strength of mind and body, but they don’t need to be taught that winning is the only way to succeed.  When a team doesn’t win, think about all the amazing opportunities you have to teach them about confidence, perseverance, and character.

Why do you think the underdog is always the favorite team?  Because everyone, from the coaches and fans to the announcers, can see that those athletes are fighting tooth and nail against a bigger, stronger, more talented opponent.   The “underdog” teams that defy all the odds and even if they don’t win, they make it a good game.  Those are the teams that make great memories for themselves and create great stories of hope, persistence and good sportsmanship that inspire others.

Coaches in this industry have the amazing ability to build a schedule.  It’s not like basketball or volleyball where the games are dictated.  Every season that you build should be created with a purpose.  Events should be opportunities to compete!  I’m not saying to push your athletes into a level that is above their heads, but set up your teams to be successful within their abilities.  You want to push them but not overwhelm them.  Routines should showcase your teams best attributes so that it can be executed well while the kids are having a great time performing it.  It doesn’t matter the size of your gym or the number of athletes you have, if you train hard and compete, you will only get better. 

Finally, let’s not forget that competition is as good for your business as it is for your teams.  You NEED those teams down the street.  It is in your best interests that the other gym in town stays in business too, so you will always have someone to compete against.  If not for them pushing you to always do YOUR best, who would you compare yourself to in your town?  Saturation can be a painful market, but not if you have defined your gym, your market, and your goals.  Don’t shy away from being competitive, and don’t always judge yourself based on wins!

Tara Patton Harris- Vice President of Sales, The JAM Brands