Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.

With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

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5 Problems St. Louis Blues Fans Know All Too Well

Disappointed, but not surprised.

If you grew up in a household like mine, you bleed blue. The phrase makes it sound like a disease because blood isn't blue when you bleed, obviously, but that's just how life is when you're a St. Louis Blues hockey fan.

Like any sports team, being a fan of the Blues is an emotional roller coaster. By the end of every game, you have no fingernails, your hair has turned grey, and your voice sounds like you've been chainsmoking for 15 years from screaming. That being said, here are some problems that Blues fans are all too familiar with.

1. Never having won a Stanley Cup. Ever.

Listen. There are 31 teams that make up the NHL, as a result of the newest addition of the Vegas Golden Knights. Out of those 31, only 13 have never won a Stanley Cup, and, according to Wikipedia, the Blues are the oldest active-NHL team never to have won the Stanley Cup. We haven't even so much as made it to the finals since 1970.

2. Being incredibly torn during the Olympics

The majority of the current roster was born in Canada, so naturally, during the Winter Olympics, those who play get split up by country. Of course, in 2018 it won't be that way, because "the men's roster won't include its usual assortment of NHL players. Instead of Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, the 2018 team features a group of journeymen culled mostly from professional leagues overseas," according to SportingNews.com. (Which is dumb. Okay.)

But in the past, it was horrible, because my love for the Blues and my favorite player Alex Pietrangelo (a Canadian) fought with my love for the United States.

3. The intense rivalry with Chicago

The Chicago-St. Louis rivalry stems far beyond just baseball. The Blackhawks are the enemy. Since we've never had a Stanley Cup victory experience, seeing them achieve it fuels the hatred even more. And since we never win the Stanley Cup, the only thing that truly matters (besides actually making the playoffs) is beating the Hawks.

4. Having players drop like flies

It was not hard to see injuries riddle headlines this season. As of right now, Opilka, Schwartz, Fabbri, and Sanford are currently out due to injuries, according to CBS Sports. At one point, our entire starting lineup was a complete mess. Any time a player is injured, no matter how crucial their role is, it's a rough time.

5. Playing great during the regular season and absolutely tanking during the playoffs

Disappointed, but not surprised. It's pretty much the cycle every year. But no matter how the seasons start or finish, no matter how many things go wrong, no matter if we never win a Stanley Cup ever, these veins still have blue running through them, and I wear my jerseys with pride.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Bilal Powell: A Star, Years In The Making

The Jets have shaped their established superstar.

The New York Jets have been resting on a gold mine in 7th year Running Back Bilal Powell, a player who has never truly been in the spotlight, and one who has been consistently overshadowed by the prominence of teammates. The Jets have found a niche with Powell by playing him in a complimentary play style, as they have used him sparingly alongside featured Running Backs like Chris Ivory and Matt Forte. However, in 2017, Powell is finally seeing an increased workload out of the Jets’ backfield, and in 2018, he could be the deadliest weapon in New York’s offense.

When Powell first arrived in New York in 2011, the Jets were fresh off their second consecutive trip to the AFC Championship Game. The team was so close to a Super Bowl appearance, yet New York couldn’t quite figure out what the missing link was. Little did the Jets know that the missing puzzle piece has been under their nose for the past 7 years. However, instead of utilizing their newly drafted young talent, the Jets elected to return the starting RB job back to Shonn Greene, whose late-season prowess the year before had helped fuel the Jets postseason run.

However, once Greene left the Jets in 2012, New York kept Powell out of the limelight by signing the former New Orleans Saints backup RB, Chris Ivory. Ivory came to the Jets in 2013 with no knowledge of the offense and only 295 yards on average over the last 2 seasons, while Powell had run for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns the previous season as the backup. It was clear that the Jets had no plans to feature Powell in their gameplay each Sunday, however, the young Running Back saw it fit to go against the team’s narrative.

Over the course of the 2013 season, Powell posted career highs in touches, yards, and receptions, however, the Jets failed to qualify for the Playoffs. Despite New York’s shortcomings when it came to winning games, it was becoming crystal clear that Powell’s young age and unmatched potential would play key roles in the Jets’ future.

However, at the end of the 2015 season, the Jets failed to qualify for the playoffs for the 4th straight year, after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills that would have sent New York to the postseason, had they won the game. During the offseason, the Jets saw it fit to release Chris Ivory, setting the stage for Bilal Powell to finally earn his share of the spotlight as the featured RB in New York.

However, instead of making the logical decision to utilize Powell’s speed, vision, and young talent, the Jets decided to sign an aging and declining Matt Forte. Over the course of Forte’s two seasons with the Jets, he has posted career lows in yards, receptions, rushing attempts, yards/attempt, and touchdowns. And while Forte has accumulated the worst two-season stretch of his nine-year career, he has still remained the starter on a dysfunctional and lost Jets roster, forcing Bilal Powell to fall to the wayside for yet another year.

However, third-year coach Todd Bowles is finally realizing the hidden potential of Bilal Powell and how he can be a valuable piece in the Jets’ offense over the next few years. On Christmas Eve, when the Jets played the Los Angeles Chargers, Matt Forte fumbled the ball early in the game, resulting in Coach Bowles to turn his confidence over to Powell, who would go on to have one of his best games of the season, as he posted 145 yards from scrimmage on 19 attempts, including a 57-yard touchdown early in the second half.

Matt Forte only carried the ball 8 times for an uninspiring 19 yards. Ever since the Jets played the Atlanta Falcons during Week 8 of the season, Powell’s usage has been trending upward, and in a shocking twist, the Jets find ways to succeed when Powell is on the field. when Powell is the featured back. Over the past two years, there have been six games where Powell has played and Forte did not play. In these five games, the Jets are 4-1.

With the pieces in place for a rebuild in New York, the Jets could be contenders as early as next season. If all goes according to plan for the Jets, their offense could be a devastating threat for opposing defenses, as the receiving core of Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson have been stellar in 2017.

And now, since the Jets have little to no inclination of keeping Matt Forte on board for 2018, a revolution of young talent is shaping up in New York, and Bilal Powell is finally at the helm.

Cover Image Credit: WikiCommons

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