05-Loyalty.jpg"Be loyal to people in their absence. Then watch how others begin having more faith and confidence in you, because they know you won't be talking about them behind their backs."
~Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Effective People
( I recommend 7 Habits of Effective Teens)

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
~Vince Lombardi

Coach Wooden expects members of a team to be loyal to themselves, but all so to everyone depending on you in order to keep your self respect. When you're a member of a squad, you can't flake out or walk off. Your teammates need you at games and at practices. You can't let them down.

So showing up, that's part of loyalty. Seeing things through. Being there for others. That's commitment and that's reliability. Seems to me that if that's loyalty, than loyalty must be made of things like a work ethic, enthusiasm, deliberate friendship, and cooperation. Funny how these bricks all relate to each other and build on one another.

I suppose the more conventional way of thinking of loyalty works too, even if it runs the risk of being more selfish and divisive than the self-sacrificing team building loyalty. Usually we tend to think of loyalty being something we have for one team but not another.

How can I support the D'Backs AND like the Dodgers. Well, they ARE both in the same division. I may be sad when Arizona loses, but I'd still prefer a team from the same division to win than for the Yankees to. Because both LA and AZ are part of something bigger, the NL West. Maybe you're more loyal to one sibling than another. You may love them both, but it's only natural to be closer to some people than others. But, you're also part of something bigger. When push comes to shove, blood is thicker than water. You may be closer to brother A than to sister B, but when someone outside your family knocks sister B, you and brother A are both likely to defend her, right?

When someone's loyal to you, you know they've got your back. Maybe you have a friend or two on squad whom you're closer to than the rest of the squad. That's fine and totally natural, especially if you were friends before cheer. But now you're part of something bigger. Now you've seen what it takes from the inside, so hopefully you'll support cheerleaders as cheerleaders, even if you're not crazy about them as individuals.

I know it's asking the impossible, but what can I say, sometimes a guy just wants the impossible- for you as a squad to become a unit, a team, a sorority in a way, a sort of family. Nobody always gets along with everyone in their families 100% of the time (if you've been snow-bound with yours this week, you know what I mean) but you always have something in common with them, you're always part of the same family and therefore part of each other.

It may be REALLY cheesy or sappy to talk about your fellow cheerleaders as a sisterhood, but now that you've been a BV cheerleader, even just for this one month, it will always be a part of your past, it is an experience that very few people get to have, and that experience is something that you now share with cheerleaders who have now graduated and with the other people on your squad.

If you are loyal to this elite sorority, you will look out for them and cover their back, even if as individuals they're not your favorite person in the world, even if they drive you crazy sometimes.

Why? Why should you? Why bother? Because loyalty is reciprocal. If you support them, they'll support you. They'll look out for you and you'll be able to know that there will always be someone who's got your back. In college and business they call that networking. That's one of the reasons they invented fraternities and sororities.

My father was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and one thing he taught me about the USMC is "once a Marine, always a Marine. You may refer to someone as a 'former-Marine' once they're discharged or retired, but the only 'Ex-Marine' is a dead Marine. Anyone who's ever known a Marine knows that they are FIERCELY loyal, first to our nation, then to the Corps (sometimes much to the chagrin of members of the other 3 branches of the armed services).

One of the reasons cheerleading was invented was to promote loyalty to your school, and to create that sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself- the community, the team, the school.

You will always be Bulldogs, and more than that, you will always be Bulldogs' Cheerleaders.

Part of loyalty is stick-with-it-ness, the willing ness to see things through.

There are times when it's more important to be true to yourself. Elecralux got bought out by some foreign vacuum company and it just isn't as dependable as it once was. The politicians in your political party just don't seem to share the same values that you do anymore. The management of the pro team you follow traded away all it's best players.

But most of the time, loyalty means seeing things through, even when they get tough. People get divorced because they can't remain loyal to each other. People quit jobs because they're less interested in what's in it for them than in how they can contribute to the business that hired them.

Loyalty is something that is hard to come by these days, but if you have it, employers and leaders will appreciate you- it's really a 21st Century life-skill. I think that Wooden put it between friendship and cooperation as part of his foundation because it is so important. You can't expect to get any closer to success without it. Without loyalty, you'll only cooperate once in a while.

Without loyalty, you're not really true friends, you're just mere pals or maybe acquaintances.

Loyalty to others, to an idea, to a goal is what get's things done. Without it, you're isolating yourself and eventually you'll find yourself alone.