Jamz Nationals: an experience review

Full Disclosure, I was on the team that got named 2010 Jamz Open Coed Level 6 National Champion. Fun! Go Rebel’s Elite!

That being said, I want to talk about the way the competition is run and why (sorry) I didn’t really enjoy the competition. I enjoyed my experience with my teammates, who are AWESOME! but the competition was lack luster for me. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Lack of consideration for crossovers. Rebel’s brought two level six teams to compete at this competition. The reason is because we had more than enough people to fill one team, so we have two. A coed and an all girl. While it’s great to have two teams, we don’t have enough (yet) to fill two completely separate teams. Not to mention the fact that injuries throughout the season has caused the need for cross overs. For those of you who don’t know what a cross over is, it’s someone who competes on more than one team for the same gym. Usually I frown on this process, but in our case it was absolutely necessary to do it.

    When we competed here, our teams almost piggy backed each other. What this means is that we didn’t get to go through the correct warm up for our second team, because during our time no the first mat, we had people on the competition floor with our other team. I feel like this really put our coed team (which went second) at a disadvantage. This was really not cool.

  2. Long and boring awards. The Jamz staff have some amazing skills. And while the awards were going on, they were showing off, in a good way. There was a ton of tumbling and some very fun stunting. One guy (famous John) even through a couple double tucks and attempted a double punch front. Despite the entertainment, the awards dragged on. I sat through two sessions of awards. They had the same musical act perform. Once they started announcing the awards, the distractions on stage took away from the announcer and while the energy was high, it was unsustainable and over time faded.

  3. Boring back drop. Some companies go all out with their stage presentation. UCA goes crazy. Jamz did a very simple back drop, which was all black just with some traditional lights. While normally I feel that it is a good thing to let the routines stand out, I felt that their approach was too little. I don’t need a ton of flash and smoke (in fact, I hate smoke, it makes the air harder to breath), I do like a little color. The result was a lack of excitement. The whole hall felt overly dark.

Rebels is, at this point, a three time national champion at the competition so I have a hard time believing we won’t return next year, but I’m hoping that Jamz will fix some things before that competition. We’ll see next year.

Handspringman.com

For those of you who have known me for more than, say, five years, you know that one of my original web properties was handspringman.com. Unfortunately, due to issues with the way domain registration works, it slipped out of my control. At the time it was prohibitively expensive to reposes (somewhere in the several hundred dollar range).

Well, good news, it’s coming home. I recently checked it’s availability on GoDaddy and was able to procure it relatively inexpensively. I will do my best to put something up there soon.

CheerGyms.com Open Team Expenses and Review

I thought it would be worthwhile to publish my expenses for my college team last year. This is useful for anyone who is interested in calculating whether or not you can afford to an open cheerleading team. I cheered for CheerGyms.com. They were a good team and I will talk about my pros and cons a bit lower, but first lets look at the expenses.

Expense Cost
Tuition and Competition Fees, including uniform costs $1,209.81
Nationals Hotel Bill $104.00
Gas Costs to travel to practice. Assuming 3 practices a month (to account for holidays and weeks off), cost of 2.50/gallon, and 20 miles/gallon on the car $405.00
Gas for nationals, same figures as above, traveling distance about 404 miles $101.00
Gas for local competitions in Sacramento $80.25
Total $1,900.06

This is just the hard numbers and I’ve gone a little soft on the miles and gas price. The point, however, is still relatively strong: I spent nearly $2,000.00 no an open team last year. I had a good time, but that is really expensive, so I’ve decided not to cheer again next year while I try to get my finances in order.

I’d also like to list some of the pros and cons of my experience at CheerGyms.com so that others can decide if it is the correct place for them:

Pros

  • Great History – CheerGyms.com has been around for many years and is a staple in the local cheerleading community. Even those programs that are run by other coaches normally have some connection back to CheerGyms.
  • Great Administrators – My experience with the administrators of the program was great. Morton and Danny are the co-owners of the gym and all my experiences with them were very positive. They are strong leaders and GREAT coaches
  • Great Facility – CheerGyms have two gyms, one in San Jose and one in Concord. They are both relatively large facilities as cheerleading space in the bay area goes. Their gym in Concord is the biggest gym I’ve been to within comfortable driving distance. Both gyms have full cheerleading floors with relatively high ceilings. Both gyms have at least one tumble track and a crash mat.
  • Good Teammates – Throughout the year we had our disagreements, but in general the team was full of good people. I wasn’t best friends with everyone, but I felt that everyone cared about the program, and I was very excited to be a part of it.

Cons

  • Lack of Skill Practice – This is part of the way that CheerGyms work, but they don’t get a chance to factor in skill growth into practice. We only met for about 2 hours a week, so this is acceptable, but it is really something I enjoy doing.
  • Lack of Consistent Leadership at Practice – Throughout the year, we shifted coaches. It was not entirely avoidable as our head coach had his hip replaced, but still it would have been good to have a strong coaching experience. I do not feel I had one. I also think that this doesn’t persist to other teams at the gym, I think it is unique to the college team.
  • No Coed Nature – this team is very small coed, despite the fact that we had 7 to 9 guys on the team. Guys did not do any direct toss stunts. While this is the nature of the business of most teams in the area, it was in stark contrast to what I was looking for.
  • Lack of Team Togetherness – I never really felt part of the team. There did not appear to be too much team bonding and it made for a very disjoint feeling. This is something I’ve had on my previous All Star teams and I missed it sorely. Again, I think this is unique to the College team due to the distances that people live from the gym, and how often practices are.
  • Distance – This one isn’t really the gyms fault, but mine for joining the gym. It was way too far for me. Nearly an hour every sunday morning each way. This was just too much.

All of that measured, I’m glad I had an opportunity to be a part of that program. I wish them all the best, but for me it just doesn’t work.

Crazy Cheer Parents

I was reading this cheerleading blog today when I came up to a quote that I have to pass on. The article is part of One Two Down Up, a blog for a cheerleading coach who doesn’t make their identity easily known. (I could probably find it, but I’m too lazy)

One of the articles is about Cheer Parents,

The Ups and Downs of a Cheerleading Coach: Those Crazy CHEER PARENTS.

This Article is particularly interesting to me because of one quote:

As a coach, we make decisions based on what is best for the team. Parents make decisions based on what they feel is best for their child. As a parent myself, I understand that sometimes a parent’s love overrules logic or reason.

This is very true. Now, some parents think outside the benefit for their own child, but that is hard. In the end we always protect what is best for our family.

What I think is sad, is that often times the two conflict. Often times what is best for the team is not what is best for you. Working as coach and convincing someone to do something that might not be best for them is very hard. Add on the fact that now parents will take the side of the kid and it makes a coaches life very difficult.

This is the part of coaching that they don’t teach you while you cheer. I learned tons of technique, tons of tips and tricks, but this is a skill I was never taught. I’m still working on handling these items, and if you look at my last year of coaching, this could really be my largest struggle, but I feel I’m making progress. This post provides a couple of suggestions for handling this, worth the read if your a coach.

I’m retired

After 12 years of training cheerleading, I retired yesterday. I soft retired last year, but I found myself really missing it and wanting to get back involved. I joined the CheerGyms.com open team and cheered for them throughout the season. While I enjoyed cheering for the team, the logistics of the situation didn’t work out for me. The team originally said they would be splitting time between both gyms. One in San Jose and the other in Concord. San Jose was 30 minutes away, Concord was about an 70 minutes away. I decided to do the team anyway. The drive meant that I was up before 8 most Sundays. I couldn’t go out late with friends on Saturday for fear of being to too tired at practice. On top of the cheering aspect I coached a local high school. Coaching would take up Friday nights with football games, which meant that I really didn’t have a weekend.

So, I’ve made a decision, and this time I’m going to try to keep to it. I’m going to retire from cheering myself. I’m still going to coach. I don’t think I’ll ever be removed from the sport completely, but for now I’m a coach and not a cheerleader. I feel I can be a better coach then cheerleader as this point. If it ever comes back to the point where I feel in shape enough to cheer and find a team convenient enough to be on, I’ll revisit it. For now, however, stick a fork in me, I’m done.

Villanova Small Coed Finishes Number 7

UCA College Nationals were this past weekend. I can’t remember if this is the third or the fourth year that I’ve been out, but its been a long time and I miss it. I still like to check in after the competition to see how my old team did. This year the routine looked awesome. I caught a couple of little mistakes, but the team finished 7, which is a very strong showing. Stronger than I can remember in recent history. Congrats to all the competing teams! Like a always say, I hope to see it in person next year!

Cheerleading is a Small World

In college I studied social networks. This was a few years before Facebook really took off. I was convinced that the world was a small network from books like Six Degrees and Linked. There were events in my life that convinced me of this, but nothing like what happened on Wednesday night.

I have become friendly with the owner of Rebel’s Elite. I saw her the other week at a competition and was asking her if there was any way I could help coach. I miss all star coaching. Much less responsibility, much more effort into the actual coaching. I like having my own team, but it is easier to just coach. Anyway, she mentioned she could use some help with her College program that met on Mondays and Wednesday nights. So, Wednesday night I found her new gym and showed up to help out a bit (late, but at least I came).

I walk in the gym, and am shy. That is the way I always am with a new program. You have to be careful with your first comment. You have to prove to the kids that you know what you’re talking about. One of the girls in the front started looking at me funny.

This Girl: I know you!
Me: Really?
This Girl: You’re from the east coast, aren’t you?
Me: Yeah, I’m from Connecticut. Moved out here in February.
This Girl: I met you in Providence last year, my name is Jelica.
Me: Wow, yeah, I remember that!

Anyway, the point of the story. I met this girl one night in Providence last February. Actually, it was the weekend before I moved out to California. She was able to remember my face and pick me out. We moved across the country, ended up in different towns but ran into each other.

The interesting connection is the cheerleading, people who are committed to the sport tend to meet up. All the gym owners I know seem to know each other. Its interesting how little you really have to do in the field to get connected, but once you are, you become intertwined in this web.