Last week, I co-hosted an online discussion regarding cheerleading safety and ways we can encourage our daughters to take on a healthy and active role in their youth. I, for one, was a cheerleader and it brought back so many memories when I listened to Nicole Lauchaire, VP Corporate Marketing and Communications for Varsity Brands, and a former cheerleader herself. She led us through the fascinating discussion via live feed video and was joined for a Q&A session by Amy Bender, a seasoned sports announcer and host of ESPN’s National Cheerleading Championships.
Today, I want to re-cap a few very important points we discussed. If you’re a parent of a young girl and want to know just exactly what you should be asking in regards to her coaches and safety, I’ve got a few answers and resources. Plus, I’m bringing you a really fun giveaway from Varsity Brands just in time for Cheerleading try-outs.
This was one of the first things we discussed. I was quick on the draw stating, “My daughter is 7 and has taken one semester of cheerleading. I don’t want to overwhelm or burn her out.”
“Sara, you are smart to worry about burnout. It is great for athletes to participate in a variety of activities,” said Varsity’s Sheila N. “Cheerleaders can start at a local cheer gym as young as 4 or 5, then continue cheering throughout her teen years.”
And as a parent, you should “get involved in selecting the right cheer program for your child,” said Varsity’s Nicole Lauchaire. “Make sure the values of program are reflective of what you want to instill in your child.”
What do you think? Do you feel young girls might get “burn out” if they start too young? Or do you feel it’s a great advantage to them in the long run?
5 tips for parents with daughters who want to join their school team:
After our online discussion, I decided to go ahead and search for a permanent gym home for my daughter, but what should I ask? Parents should take an active role in selecting the right cheer program for their kids, and continue to stay involved. Questions that parents should ask as they’re getting started or if they haven’t already:
1. Is the coach certified through the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) and has the school conducted the appropriate background checks?
2. Does the coach adhere to AACCA practice and performance guidelines?
3. Does the coach ensure that performance skills are taught in the proper sequence using skills progression training, with an emphasis on training all squad members in proper spotting methods?
4. Does the coach properly balance practice time between skills training and spirit leadership instruction?
5. Does the squad have an emergency plan in place?
Safety tips for cheerleaders to follow:
- Know the rules for your school, college or all-star division/level
- Ensure your squad has an emergency action plan and has practiced it
- Only perform stunts, tumbling and routines on appropriate surfaces
- Warm up before stretching, jumping, tumbling, stunting and dancing
- Only attempt new skills in the presence of a skilled instructor
- Take the iCheerSafe pledge, which asks cheerleaders to commit to their responsibility to cheerleading safety.
As part of National Cheerleading Safety Month, Varsity wanted to address the issue of safety. One injury is one too many. Safety is the biggest priority for Varsity cheerleaders and coaches. Varsity is doing a lot to promote cheer safety and injury prevention, but we all need to do even more to keep cheerleaders safe as it evolves.
Girls of all sizes:
The last thing I want to address here, is the body image issue. According to Nicole Lauchaire, there’s a stereotype in cheerleading that you need to be under five feet tall and under 100 pounds to be on the squad. She says that couldn’t be further from the truth – girls of all shapes and sizes can work together to achieve a singular goal.
“What’s unique about cheerleading is it allows for all different size girls to participate, and to have a great squad you need the different body types,” she added. “There’s something unique and special about how different body types are really required in cheerleading.” For example, tall girls can be spotters, larger girls can be part of the base, and petite girls can be flyers.
I, thoroughly, enjoyed my conversation with Varisty Brand, TheMotherhood, and selected Co-Hosts. Not only am I encouraged, as a Parent, to know safety regulations and rules about Cheerleading, but I’m also confident in how it will be a positive influence on my daughter in the long run. Did you know that Cheerleaders are more likely than the general teen (57% vs. 46%) to hold a leadership position in or out of school? Also, 81% of cheerleaders have grade point averages of 3.5 or higher. The benefits are endless and my hope is that my daughter will reap the rewards of her hard work and feel encouraged to do anything her heart desires long after her cheerleading years.
For more insights to our online discussion, head over to TheMotherhood to read the full re-cap or watch the LIVE feed with Nicole Lauchaire.
One lucky Momma Findings reader will win a Varsity Cheer Prize Pack that includes:
- Cheer Tote
- Cheer Water Bottle
- Cheer Blanket
Looking at the recap of the talk, what are some takeaways you’ve learned about Cheerleading for girls, or more specifically, your daughter?
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