What Most Don’t Know About All-Star Cheer Coaches

What Most Don’t Know About All-Star Cheer Coaches

As a coach, the success of my team is my main objective; I will literally lose sleep over things going on in the gym.
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The number of times I have been called a bully as a coach is a painfully high. What most don’t understand about being good in my field of work is that you have to care; you have to care so much about the kids you coach even when it seems like they don’t care about themselves. It is my job to push and make sure these athletes are able to reach their full potential; this is where most pieces of constructive criticism gets lost in translation. It is never my intention to be hurtful to a child, but instead to coach them in a way that will produce the results they deserve to see.

I don’t coach for me, I coach for my athletes.

I have won the most prestigious competition that there is to win as an athlete: the Cheerleading Worlds, and I have won way more than just that in my 17 years of experience in the world of cheerleading. I am not trying to win any more jackets for myself, my closet is full, and my intention as a coach is to train athletes that can win titles for themselves. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the pride that these athletes have in them when they hear their names called for first. This is why I do what I do.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

We care about their safety just as much as you do!

I understand that it is hard to see your child upset and hear them complain that their coach was hard on them. I hope that you can see that your children are not being picked on when they drop a stunt or bust a tumbling pass at practice or competition, but instead being held accountable for the mistakes they have made. As a coach, I know the capabilities of my athletes. If an athlete wasn’t capable of safely executing a skill, I would never have them do it. I would never put your children in harm's way. If you don’t believe me, I can promise you that not only do I want to see your athlete healthy, but also an injury to a team member isn’t worth it when it comes to throwing skills that aren’t safe.

We do not have it out for your child.

Kids give attitude, that is just in the nature of being a child, when they don’t like what they hear or they don’t like their spot, they give us attitude. As a coach there is not much that we can do when we get attitude, so if we call your child out, or condition them for it, it is not personal, it has nothing to do with how much I enjoy Sally, it is the standard of respect that all of the athletes are to be giving us as figures of authority. A huge role in how the athletes view us and respect us is how their parents talk about us at home with their children. If your child thinks you don’t have respect for us they think they don’t need to either. If a parent doesn’t think that I deserve respect as a coach, their child should be coached by someone that they do respect; in order to receive better results.

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I think about your children more than anything else in my life.

As a coach, the success of my team is my main objective; I will literally lose sleep over things going on in the gym. My job isn’t over when I get home from work; I bring work with me everywhere I go; I am constantly answering phone calls and text messages about my athletes. I am always looking at videos to see what the next best thing is as well as researching what ways to maximize our score sheets. When the season starts in May, my job isn’t over until after the last competition in May. Minus the one or two weeks off in-between the end of the season and tryouts, my job is a year-round gig, and I never get away from it. So next time you are concerned with how I feel about your kiddo, make sure that you take into account that I am only tough on them because I care about them, if I didn’t care I wouldn’t push and that is the truth about being an all star cheerleading coach!

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Top 10 Football Goal Keepers In The World​ 2018/2019

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In today's modern game scoring has never been harder. There are many reasons why that is, however, I have concluded that one of the main reasons why scoring has become an increasingly difficult task for outfield players, is due to the fact that they are facing one of the most talented generations of shot-stoppers ever. Because there are so many great keepers in the world, I felt the need to recognize some of the world's best, so here are my top 10 goalkeepers:

10. Keylor Navas

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Keylor Navas, the pride of all Costa-Ricans and Latin-Americans is the first keeper to appear in this list, earning the 10th spot. Navas is a great all-around keeper, he possesses some of the best reflexes out of all the keepers in this list and he can be a starter in just about any club in the world. The current keeper for "Los Merengues" or "Los Blancos" has become a Costa Rican national hero and an established star-player at Real Madrid. Aside from winning numerous trophies at the club level with Real Madrid and his former club Deportivo Saprissa, he has won also many individual awards. Among the most notable, he has earned The best La Liga keeper in 2014, the CONCACAF player of the year three times in 2014, 2016 and 2017; UEFA's keeper of the year in 2018 and he has accumulated four total nominations to FIFPro XI (2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018). Navas, ever since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, in which he led the Costa-Rican side all the way to the quarter-finals, has certainly been one of the most consistent and talented goalkeepers of this generation, rightfully earning a spot in this list.

9. Ederson Moraes

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The Brazilian wonder-boy keeper Ederson has been phenomenal ever since he joined his current Premier League Champion-side Manchester City. Even though many "City" stars like De Bruyne, Aguero, Silva, Bernardo, and Sane have gotten most of the credit for Man City's recent success, Ederson deserves just as much credit as any of them. Ederson played a pivotal role in completing Man City's nearly perfect run last season. Since his first appearance in the Premier League last season, Ederson has accumulated an astounding 22 clean sheets in only 45 appearances. He has won 37 of those 45 appearances and only lost 2. That without a doubt is an impressive mark for any goalkeeper, especially a youngster like himself. Even though he has often been overlooked by fans, mainly due to his lack of minutes in the national stage, he has been in great form lately and has been essential for all of his club teams ever since his debut in 2012. His extensive trophy cabinet for his short relatively short career corroborates the fact that he is one of the best in the business.

8. Manuel Neuer

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When in form, he can be the best keeper in the world, there is no doubt about it. Nonetheless, Neuer has been struggling to make any performances over the past 2 seasons due to injuries, thus lowering his spot on this list. Despite his lack of play time, not including him on this list would be a sin, which is why I have chosen him as my number 8 spot. There is really no need for an introduction or for a listing of all of Neuer's awards, but in case you didn't know anything about him, here are some of his most important achievements. Neuer has won six Bundesliga trophies, four DFB Cups, four DFL Super Cups, one European Super Cup, one Club-World Cup, one Champions League, one FIFA World Cup, four FIFPro World XI selections (2013- 2016), three UEFA's team of the year selections (2013-2015), the 2014 World Cup Golden Glove, and the Bronze Ball for finishing third in the 2014 edition of the Ballon D'or. If you didn't feel like reading all those numbers, I completely understand, all you need to know is that he is absolutely amazing. Those numbers speak for themselves pretty well and I have no doubt that he will go on to be recognized as one of the best to ever play the game.

7. Alisson Becker

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Alisson, is the second Brazilian to make this list, and he lands two spots above his fellow national teammate Ederson. After his breakout season in 2015/2016 with S.C. International, in which he won the Primeira Liga keeper of the year award, Becker was bought by A.S. Roma ("Roma") and rapidly became a regular for the "giallorossi". During the 2016/2017 campaign, he acquired national attention for being incredibly proficient in 1 on 1 situations with opposing attacking players. By the beginning of the 2017/2018 season he became an indisputable starter for Roma and quickly established himself as one of Europe's top keepers. During the 2017/2018 campaign, Roma finished 3rd in Serie "A" (behind Juventus and Napoli) and he helped them reach their first ever Champions League semi-final after overcoming a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona. He may not have won as much silverware as other keepers in this list but his effectiveness, flare and acrobatic style of play certainly have turned many heads, especially that of Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp, who decided to add him to his team sheet at the end of last season. On top of that, Alisson managed to start over Ederson for Brazil in the 2018 World Cup and his 2017/2018 season performance gave spark to one of Italy's most heated debates, being whether he should have won the 2018 Serie "A" keeper of the year or not.

6. Samir Handanovic

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Barely missing out in the top 5, here we have Samir Handanovic. Handanovic is quite possibly the most underrated goalkeeper in this whole list. This is mainly due to the fact he has spent most of his professional career playing for rather small clubs. The Slovenian icon didn't really establish himself until 2007 when he became a starter for his former club Udinese. In Udinese, he enjoyed great but winning-less years. It was not until 2011 when he finally won something; it was not something that Udinese won too... That year he won the Serie "A" keeper of the year award, beating the likes of Julio Cesar and Gigi Buffon. Later that year, his incredible performances earned him a move to Inter where he would later go on and win the Serie "A" keeper of the year award once more in 2013. Ever since his move to Inter, he finally acquired his more than deserved recognition for his shot-stopping heroics. He even acquired the nickname of "Batman" among fans due to his acrobatic style when goalkeeping. Handanovic has been consistently amazing for both Inter and his national team, sadly he has not won any silverware, which might explain why he does not get as much praise as other keepers.

5. Gianluigi Buffon

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"Gigi" Buffon is arguably the best keeper to EVER play the game. He has been in outstanding form ever since he made his debut with Parma back in 1995. Even today, the longtime "bianco-neri", at his 40 years of age, has achieved to play at top flight at a remarkable level, which by itself speaks greatly of him. His longevity and consistency are just couple factors of why I have decided to include him on this list; and despite not being the flashiest goalkeeper out there, year to year, he has managed to silence his critics by accumulating mind-blowing amounts of saves and clean sheets. Just in recent years "Gigi" has managed to win 7 Serie "A" championships (2012-2017), 4 Italian Cups (2014-2017), 3 Italian Super Cups (2012, 2013, 2015), 1 French Super Cup (2018), 5 Serie "A" keeper of the year selections (2012, 2014-2017), 1 UEFA team of the year selection in 2017, and 1 FIFPro XI selection in 2017 as well. There is no question that even today "Gigi" can still be one of the most reliable men to have in between your team's three sticks.

4.Thibaut Courtois

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The former Atletico and Chelsea keeper, is the tallest goalkeeper in this list standing at 6 feet, 6 inches (1.99 mts). Out of all the keepers in this list, Courtois is probably the best long-shot stopper and it is not only because of his height but due to his cat-like reflexes and excellent positioning. Since his move to Atleti (Atletico Madrid), the house of the "colchoneros", Courtois has been getting constant spotlight. Within his first two seasons in Spain, he became one of the best goalies in La Liga and a clear starter for the Belgian national team. Following his incredible 2013/2014 campaign with Atleti, he became Chelsea's number 1 transfer target and consequently moved to Stamford Bridge. At Chelsea, he became even more renowned and won even more trophies including two Premier Leagues in 2016 and 2017, one League Cup in 2015 and one FA Cup in 2018. Aside from these team accolades, he has won several individual awards as well, like the Zamora Trophy in 2013 and 2014, a UEFA team of the year selection in 2014, two FIFPro XI selections in 2014 and 2018, one Premier League Golden Glove in 2017, one FIFA World Cup Golden Glove in 2018, and The FIFA Best Goalkeeper Award in 2018. After having a terrific World Cup, he has found a new home at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he will probably add more trophies to his already pretty extensive trophy cabinet. The only reason that keeps me away from putting him even higher in this list is the fact that he has had some history regarding inconsistency. This is mainly evidenced by his relatively underperforming seasons in 2015 and 2016.

Honorable Mentions

Now, before naming my top 3 I would like to recognize some great keepers that did not make the cut. Here are some honorable mentions: Jordan Pickford, Hugo Lloris, Kasper Schmeichel, Mattia Perin, Sergio Asenjo and Stephane Ruffier.

NOTE: Any of the following three keepers could take the number 1 spot. All 3 of them are incredibly talented and they have been in outstanding form recently. At the end of the day all, it is a matter of opinion, and this is mine. Here are my top 3 keepers in the world:

3. Jan Oblak

Jan Oblak is yet another massively underrated player in this list, just like his former national teammate Samir Handanovic. Atletico Madrid's current shot-stopper has been terrific even before joining them in 2014. A couple of months before he left for Atleti, Oblak won Portugal's Primeira Liga and Cup. Since joining Atleti, he has won one Spanish Super Cup in 2014, one Europa League in 2018 and one UEFA Super Cup in 2018 as well. Even though Atleti has not won a lot of trophies (mainly due to the fact that they have to compete with the Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid), Oblak has managed to win three times in a row (2016-2018) the Zamora trophy, which is awarded to the goalkeeper who has been scored on the least in a single La Liga season. In fact, since his 2013/2014 season at Benfica (at club level) he has allowed a total of 115 goals in 200 games, which is stupendous. Additionally, according to Bleacher Report, as of October 2nd, 2018, since joining La Liga, Jan Oblak had 72 clean sheets while only having conceded 71 goals; which is absolutely unheard of. His shot-stopping ability and statistical efficiency definitely make up for his relatively small trophy cabinet. Thus, Oblak firmly deserves the 3rd spot on this countdown, and with some more trophies, he could easily move up the list.

2. Marc Andre Ter Stegen

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Ter Stegen is one of the shortest keepers on this list standing at 6 feet 2 inches (1.87 mts). This slight disadvantage has not taken anything away from him. Apart from being the most athletically gifted keeper on this list, he probably has the best reflexes and the best 1 on 1 shot-stopping ability in the whole world. Because Ter Stegen plays in Barcelona, he is often not given the praise he deserves. I mean playing with guys like Messi, Suarez, Coutinho, Rakitic, Busquets, Dembele, and many others may make his job seem almost pointless when they can score almost 4 goals a game. In reality, however, Ter Stegen has been a huge contributing factor to Barcelona's success. Ter Stegen constantly makes crucial saves in big moments and always prevents other teams from even getting close to Barcelona, which explains why they always seem to win La Liga every year with flying colors. Since his arrival to Camp Nou, Ter Stegen has won one Champions League (2015), one Confederations Cup with Germany (2017), one UEFA Super Cup in (2016), one FIFA Club World Cup (2016), three Spanish Super Cups (2017-2019) , four Copa Del Rey (2015-2018), and three La Liga Championships (2015, 2016, 2018). Other individual awards include: the 2012 Bundesliga Goalie of the year, a UEFA team of the year selection in 2015, and a 2017 Confederations Cup MVP. He is undoubtedly one of the best right now and he has arguably been the best since the start of the 2018/2019 campaign.

1. David De Gea

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By a very slim margin, the Spanish native and former "colchonero" snags the number one spot in this countdown. De Gea, for many the best goalkeeper in the world over the past two to three years, has been in incredible form since he became a regular starter at Manchester United. I take that back, he has actually been unbelievable since his youth career, winning multiple individual awards and collective trophies with both Spain and Atletico. He was so good during his youth, that many called him "Iker's successor". When he became a "red devil" he almost became an instant sensation. Over recent years, De Gea's pure goalkeeping ability has saved an underperforming Manchester United from multiple disastrous season finishes and has even saved them some trophies. While at United, De Gea has won three Community Shields, one Carabao Cup, one FA Cup, one Premier League title and multiple individual awards including five PFA team of the year selections (2013, 2015-2018), four Manchester United's player of the year awards (2014-2016, 2018), 4 nominations to FIFPro XI with one selection in 2018, one selection to Europe's Best XI in 2016, and one Premier League Golden Glove in 2018. Even though many shot-stoppers may equal or surpass his trophy-based success, what makes him so special is the fact that he currently plays for a United team that has been constantly struggling defensively, and yet he somehow always manages to get United out of even tougher situations. In fact, according to The Telegraph in the 2017/2018 Premier League campaign, he successfully prevented 13.56 goals for United, putting him 4 goals ahead of his closest competitor, Burnley's Nick Pope with 9.42 goals prevented. And yes, despite his poor performance in this past World Cup, De Gea is still my number one keeper for obvious reasons.

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