CheerWHY.pngBy Ted Mallory, Begun June 2006, updated Aug 2015

I believe that as a squad you can positively influence the culture and climate of our student body if you'll commit to maintaining a consistent level of enthusiasm.


Recently there's been a big trend in business and education to examine one's core motivation mostly led by author and speaker Simon Sinek's book "Start with Why." In it, Sinek challenges leaders to consider three golden rings; What they what their teammates to do, How they'd like to do it, and at the core- Why they do it. I'd like to challenge you to think about that too. Why do cheerleaders cheer? Why did you become a cheerleader? If it helps, review our mission statement: "Positive, Committed Leaders stirring-up spirit, building excellence & character."
I will share with you what I, as your coach believe our our most important what, how and why should be:

  1. Encourage Fans in the Stands to Rally our Teams on the Court & Field
  2. Build School Spirit & Sense of Community & Identity
  3. Positively influence the Culture & Climate of our Student Body.
  • Practically, we accomplish # 1 with our spirit, voices, execution of chants & jumps and transitions. See a game eval for how that breaks down.
  • Posters, Run-Thrus, Pep-Rallies, Sportsmanship, Attitudes, Example-Setting and Service to others are all ways we can accomplish #2 & #3
  • Ideally, we're going to be able to do ALL of these three things best if we're building John Wooden's Pyramid of Success brick-by-brick: Industriusness (work-ethic), Enthusiasm (spirit), Friendship, Cooperation, Loyalty, Self-Control, Alertness, Initiative, Intent, Condition, Skill, Team-Spirit, Poise, Confidence.
  • It's all about building-up Bulldogs!

I really need for you all to be on board with that. If you don't think you can be, then we need to work something out. Either I have to sell you on this harder, you need to be as positive and cooperative as you can be even if you disagree, or we might have to find some other school activity for you to participate in. Maybe if you're not convinced, you should consider what Cheerleading was originally invented for (it's a WAY shorter read than this page, I promise).

If you're "sold," then read on to find out more ways that you can bring meaningful purpose to cheerleading and cheerleading can offer you meaningful purpose.

A few years ago an upstart pastor from California, Rick Warren wrote a record breaking book called 'A Purpose Driven Life.His preface is that everyone's life has meaning and he believes that both individuals and the Church can find mission and direction in Scriptural principles.In much the same way, Cheerleaders can be vitally important and have an enormous impact for the teams they cheer for, their schools, and their communities. Even at a public school, with the separation of church and state, squads and coaches can emphasize 5 simple purposes (just without tying them to any one religion). Although, cheerleaders who's personal faith is important to them can certainly integrate these Cheer purposes with Warren's origional 5 Christian purposes.I think that if cheerleaders keep these 5 in mind, they'll be practicing "intentedness" which is one of the bricks in Coach John Wooden's "Pyramid of Success." Intentedness means being goal-oriented, having a target to strive for.


Purpose 1: Spirit
Lets face it, cheerleading was invented to support sports.It may now be a sport in it's own right, but even with all the all-star squads and competitions, we should never lose sight of our primary function-to cheer on the ball teams. "Fan" is short for "Fanatic." This doesn't mean you worship football or the team. It does mean that you support, cheer for, draw attention to, and encourage the team that's playing.
THAT is Cheerleadings #1 role.

Purpose 2: Community (aka: having unity in common)
If there's anything adolescent psychologists think that teenagers are looking for it's identity, in particular- group identity. A mascot and school colors go a long way to do this. Regardless of race, gender, creed, socio-economic status, grades, cliques...whatever usually separates students, they all belong to one group- your school, and cheerleaders need not only to be a symbol of that group, but should constantly be trying to help kids feel included and valued in that community.Inclusion, not exclusion- As the school secretary listed them in Ferris Bueller; "The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies..." they all should feel like they belong, and it's yourjob to help them feel that way.
If you are fullfilling the negative stereotype of the snobby, preppie, popular- basically either supperior or "clique-y," you're being exclusive instead of inclusive. In other words, you're not making people feel a part of something, you're making them feel even more alienated and unvalued. Cheerleaders are supposed to make people feel valued as part of the team, part of the school, part of the team.

The irony is that if you're being what so many people THINK cheerleaders are like, you're being the antithesis of what a cheerleader is SUPPOSED to be.
I think that building community fulfills America's motto; "E Pluribus Unum; from many, one." Baseball may call itself "America's Pastime," football, basketball and NASCAR may all vie for being the most popular sport, but only cheerleading has the deliberate duty to create a sense of oneness. All other sports may do that, but that's just being on the bandwagon. The cheerleaders are the people offering a hand to get you up onto that wagon.

Purpose 3: Discipline
You can't be an athlete without it. It never ceases to amaze me when cheerleaders are frustrated that football, volleyball and basketball "jocks" don't think of cheerleading as a sport or cheerleaders as athletes, but then the cheerleaders don't want to work very hard during practice.Coach Wooden's Pyramid calls this "Conditioning." Although, it certainly requires more of Wooden's bricks, on the first tier, it takes work-ethic or "industriusness.." On the second tier it takes discipline to develop self control, alertness, and initiative. On the third tier, it takes discipline to develop skill. But it takes personal and squad discipline to develop and maintain friendships, loyalty and cooperation- which help make up the foundation of the Pyramid of success. A discipline is either something you study, like Science, History, or Art. A disciplined scientist uses the scientific method, so does a disciplined historian, for that matter. A discipline may also be a regiment you follow, diet, exercise, physical or mental training. Obviously, faith traditions are disciplined. If one is a "disciple" or a follower of a religion, philosophy or a leader, you follow the teachings, principles or precepts of that tradition.Theoretically, Christians abide by Christ's teaching in the Beatitudes, Buddhist practice Zen, Muslums practice the 5 pillars, etc. etc.Athletes listen to their coach's guidance and the rules or guidelines of their sport and school.Like doctors "practice medicine", practice cheerleading so that you will be qualified to be a practicing cheerleader. It doesn't mean cheerleading is your religion, it means that you're working at being the best cheerleader you can be.

Purpose 4: Service
The legendary King Author had a beautiful motto: "By serving each other we become free." Serving others is a true mark of leadership, in fact, some people call it "Servant-Leadership" (See Simon Sineck's other book, "Leaders Eat Last," or Stephen Covey's other book, "Principle Based Leadership." Voluntary service fulfills several basic human needs, including providing a sense of belonging or inclusion, a making a positive contribution or impact, and exercising a level of influence. It builds your own self-worth and sense of competence while benefiting others. It gives you a sense of perspective (& humility), but it also empowers you because you earn the appreciation, loyalty, and respect of those you serve. They'll be more likely to listen, join, or follow you if they've seen you helping and supporting others, or if you've helped & supported them. Serving people builds connections and relationships which help you be more effective & get more things done- in other words, it's a form of networking. But more important than what you get out of it, or even than the fact that it directly helps whoever you're helping- it makes our school/community better and that's a leader's job. Many cheer programs deliberately incorporate service programs. We haven't at Boyer Valley, mostly because of scheduling constraints and because many of you already partic
ipate in such activities through NHS, 4-H, and Church Youth Groups or other organizations- but we can serve others in dozens of small ways everyday, from standing up for bullying victims, picking up trash on your way to class or your locker, just offering a smile to someone, helping someone pick up something they dropped, or offering to help someone struggling to understand their homework. I would vehemently argue that the true mark of a good cheerleader isn't the kind of stunts they're capable of or any of their skills- it's their willingness to serve others.

Purpose 5: Be Contagious
Sounds like a disease, right? I teach my cheerleaders that there is a difference between being just another thermometer and actually being thermostat. That's actually something that I learned from a book by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "Strength to Love." A thermometer just reacts to the atmosphere or climate around it, it measures the temperature and reports it. Some cheerleaders don't get very excited until the crowd's already excited- usually the fourth quarter of a boy's game during tournaments, especially when their team is winning, but an effective cheerleader gets the crowd excited even in the first quarter of the first girls game, even when the team is struggling. Unlike a thermometer, a thermostat sets the temperature, it deliberately influences the climate. During games, hen fans are showing poor sportsmanship, cheerleaders and mascots are responsible for distracting the crowd from whatever they're angry or disappointed about in order to reset the mood and keep things positive. When the team is struggling, their job is to rally the crowd so that the crowd will rally the team. Cheerleaders can (& SHOULD) do their best to influence the culture and climate of their school outside of games too. Cheerleaders should try to see the best in others, see every situation as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. They should set an example of inclusion, friendliness and kindness and most of all of enthusiasm (passion, pride & school spirit). Instead of talking-down the faults of our school, or trash-talking rivals, we need to constantly make our classmates be proud to be Bulldogs and excited about what that means!

FYI, Warren's original 5: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, and Evangelism