The beauty of team sports, particularly all star dance and cheerleading, is its emphasis on TEAM WORK. Coaches work hard to encourage cohesion within the teams and we know that a team who gels, who is positive, and supports each other is just as (or more!) important as a team full of great athletes. This is a major reason why I prefer to work in All Star over studio dance. I love the team spirit and the skills it gives us for our every day lives.
After a long holiday break (during which many of you have probably hung out with some of your cheer and dance friends!) you will find that when you all arrive back at the gym, you will very quickly fall back into step with your team mates. It’s almost like you never left the gym or studio – that’s part of the bond that your training and performance experiences together creates!
I want to remind you though to think about the new girl or boy (For today’s blog my example will be a girl). In your team this year there might be a few, or there might be only one.Your ease with your team mates, playful mocking, inside jokes and sisterly love is amazing, but it can also be intimidating for that new kid.
Just take a second to think of a new girl. Put yourself in her (probably brand new) cheer shoes.
Think about being at a party before the people you know arrive, or the feeling in your stomach on your first day of a new school. It’s tough!
As someone who is comfortable in your team, and who treats the gym as a second home, YOU are the one with the power to make that girl’s introduction to the family a positive experience, and to set the example that your friends and team mates will follow.
It’s SO simple:
This is your house. Be kind and break the ice, don’t leave it up to her. Don’t be afraid to be the first of your friends to approach the new girl, just do it and I promise they will all follow you.
Ask her about herself.
Her name, has she danced before? Does she know anyone here? What school does she go to? It’s SO easy!
Ever been stressed, running late, feeling anxious or tired, and someone shoots you a “hey nice shoes” – it is just enough to lift your spirits. A tiny compliment can put a nervous person at ease, with minimal effort from you.
Remember her name.
Second lesson? A huge smile and a “Hi Sarah!” as she walks in will make her feel instantly more welcome.
Show her where to put her bag next to yours, call her over in break, invite her to sit with you in warm up. Wriggling your way into a group of people who all know each other is hard. You will help her out SO much by just doing this. She might not even know the joke or what the conversation is about, (she will soon enough!) but she will be glad to be part of it. Soon it will be second nature to have her sitting there laughing along with you.
She has never done his before. We alllllll had a first time, we all had nerves and shaky starts. Maybe she is experienced but doesn’t know the way your team warms up, or doesn’t know the routine, or even where the bathroom is. If you are patient and kind, she won’t feel embarrassed to ask for help and will pick everything up a whole lot faster.
There is a reason you are at this particular studio or gym and not the one down the road. You love you friends, your coaches, you feel happy and can be yourself at training. EVERYONE deserves a place and team that makes them feel like that! So share the love and open your circle to everyone who comes to give it a go. Not everyone will stay, but those who do will soon share your team’s bond. This culture of your club/studio and the vibe of every single class is up to YOU just as much as it’s up to your coach and teacher.
Before you know it it will feel like they have been there the whole time.
To the new kid: Hang in there, cut yourself some slack if you don’t get it the first time, or don’t fit in right away. Try to be open to giving new things a try. Persist if you can, have a positive attitude, and trust me – you will love it.
Wishing an amazing 2018 to dancers and cheerleaders everywhere!