Don’t let an injury keep you down—stay an active part of your squad from the sidelines.
by Desirée Coleman
It’s the first week of December and the ice skating rink just opened up for the season. You and your best friend gear up Saturday afternoon to hit the rink. You’re just getting warmed up when your shoelace unties and gets caught under your blade. Instinctively, you put your hands out to catch yourself and fall a little too hard on your wrist, landing yourself in the ER. The results? A sprain, and the doctor orders you to have no physical activity for 6 weeks. How could this be? It’s only mid-season and you’re already sidelined.
Although it seems like the end of the world, there are plenty of ways to stay involved in cheer, from practices to competitions, while you recover. Keep your head up and step into the spirit leader spot!
Leader of the Pack
Motivate your team to stay in shape during basketball and competition season. Take the reigns at practice by recommending new conditioning exercises and leading the team through warm-ups. Let your leadership skills shine as you encourage your teammates to target their stunting and tumbling muscles in fun and productive ways.
On game day, keep the spirit on the sidelines by paying close attention to the game and calling cheers and chants if you’re coach gives you the OK. Take it upon yourself to make sure lines are straight, music is ready for half-time and signs and poms are all in place. Although you’re aching on the inside to cheer with them, your coach will take notice of your dedication and likely remember it when it’s time to pick the next captain. Don’t underestimate the opportunity to be a selfless leader.
When it comes time, help your team pull together for competition. It takes a full team effort to quickly compensate for an injury and rework the routine before the big day. So once again, try to think about your squad before yourself and help make the changes necessary on the mat. Whether you’re a top girl, a base or a back spot, someone has to take your place while you’re healing. Give your replacement pointers on how to work best with your stunt group and coach her on transitioning to her new spot as quickly and neatly as possible. Your advice won’t go to waste.
Take it from Rocky Point HS cheer captain Elizabeth Johannesen, who was rushed to the ER the week before UCA Nationals last year. After being diagnosed with a health condition, she wasn’t allowed to fly to nationals or compete. “Being a captain of my team, I knew that I couldn’t allow the girls to see that I was upset or weak because they’d feed off of my bad energy,” says Liz. “I had to remain strong and had no time to feel sorry for myself.” The team took home its first national championship title later that week, no doubt because Liz kept her teammates upbeat when things got tough. “Watching my squad achieve this goal was almost more magical to me than being a part of it,” says Liz. “I’m thankful that this happened to me because it helped me grow as a leader and as an athlete.”
While it’s difficult to hang up your poms for a time, you can still seize the opportunity to learn and mature as a teammate and leader when sitting in the bleachers. Inspire your team by staying positive and encouraging them and other sports teams throughout the process. Remember that on or off the mat, you’re always a cheerleader at heart.