By Stacy Johnson
Last year I coached a cheer squad of older girls about to go into high school and middle school. They were a fantastic group of girls with a great amount of skill in tumbling, dance and cheer. I had a fabulous assistant coach who knew more about cheer than I did and we made a great team. I pretty much stepped back and let her make our squad even more fabulous. As I did that, I had time to look around and see what was going on with the other teams and I started paying particular attention to one of our other squads.
This year, that same team was in need of a coach and I stepped up to take the position. I had never coached a team like this and except for being friends with the girls, had never really worked with them one on one. Little did I know how much this season would increase the size of my heart and my capacity to love.
Watch this video.
www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=729973683684331&set=vb.248537068606047&type=3&theater Show message history
McKenzie struggled with her somersault for weeks. We kept telling her she could do it and she finally did and was able to do them in the routine! Valerie doesn't speak much but after her first practice, she did the "touchdown" cheer for her bus driver over and over till she got to school. Catherine might be a little boy crazy but she was the first to tell someone they did a good job and was a friend to all the girls on the team. Morgan was our rockstar cart-wheeler who was so humble about the whole thing . She was quiet but yet vocal with her opinion when she wanted to be heard. Ayleen, while she sat in her wheelchair the entire time memorized every cheer and move to go along with it after just a few days of practicing with us. And Chy unconditionally loved every girl on the team and was quick with a hug and a smile when things got rough and when the tears came, she was the first to try and soothe them away.
Really, what I learned about these girls is that they are typical teenagers. They love having their picture taken, they are particular about their hair and makeup, most of them are a little boy crazy, they want to be a part of the same things their peers are doing (case in point, most of them went to the homecoming dance). They have unique talents and abilities and they all desire to be respected by their peers.
What they do have that is sometimes not typical in teenagers, is an ability to see beyond another's disabilities, a desire to make sure everyone feels loved and a sincerity that is refreshing. These girls are my heroes and I think my heart doubled if not tripled in size by working with them.