BG Cheerleading Team focused on team work to overcome inexperience, challenges

Sports Editor and Sports Editor

This year’s national championship cheerleading team was unlike many others and not just because they won a national championship, but because of the road they took as a team to become leaders on and off the floor.

They had to replace all four of the males who competed on the floor in last year’s nationals. The team replaced those four and moved on from there with plenty of confidence in each other.

At the end of a team meeting head coach, Anne Marie King said “a team member stood up and said ‘Regardless of us having our males graduating last season and having all new males on the floor, we will still continue to succeed.’”

King knew this team was dedicated but young so she decided to build this team into leaders inside and outside of the gym. She traveled to New York City to represent BGSU at the Women’s Sport Foundation Annual Salute to Women in Sports.

She listened to Diana Nyad, one of the world swimming record holders and she spoke about finding a way consistently throughout her speech. King said it was something that hit home for her and she wanted to relay it back to her team going into the season.

“I presented this phrase to the team when I came home from NYC,” King said. “The team added this to their mission statement, and it was used several times in practice when we needed to dig deep and hit our routine.”

After a meeting to decide what the full mission statement would be, they settled on one statement that they would use all year long.

“United We Embrace The Challenge, Together We Will Find A Way. As A Family, We Are Fearless, Unbound, and Filled With Heart. We Are Your Dream Team. HYS (Hit your stunts),” King said.

“The mission statement is the foundation we set to start setting goals for nationals,” she added. “We use the mission statement all throughout the season to keep the team focused and keep a sense of urgency in the gym.”

After the mission statement was set, it came the time for them to start practicing for Nationals. Coach King canceled a practice one day and made the team meet her in the union. In that meeting she showed a video from Nyad’s speech in New York City.

After that video she assigned three leadership books by John Maxwell. All the books focused on different traits that a leader had, as each performer read it they would be required to report to the whole group about what it meant and what the big picture of their chapter was.

“It improved our practices after we would present,” Junior Abbey Pilgrim said. “That would set the tone for the practice after that.”

The books were a way for King to bring this team together as one unit instead of naming a few people to be leaders and captains.

“We got to a point where it was a little bit rocky in the season,” Senior Tyler Bill said. “All of us had to step up and be our own leader even if it was for a day and that required less leadership throughout the team.”

The team will now enjoy a little bit of a break and then start up tryouts again in the spring, but team leadership will be something that the program looks to continue as they go forward, King said.

“We all became our own leaders and through that we could sit back and relax knowing everyone else was there to do their job, and work hard for the team,” Bill said.