The Reluctant President: Rantings of a Cheer Booster Dad

You hear it all the time; a person talks about how they got sucked into a volunteer position on a board of directors or a booster club. Theoretically, it can’t happen. People who aren’t present, can’t be appointed to a position without their knowledge. And, if they are present, they can just say “no”… unless they are a wimp and/or have no backbone.

I just wanted to be a responsible parent, who goes to my daughter’s games — supporting her the best I can, and taking pictures of the team to post on their shared Shutterfly website. I was self-employed at the time, and had flexibility in my schedule that allowed me the opportunity to watch her excel in her sport.

It must have been some innocuous comment like, “You’re already going to all of the events. Why don’t you just become the Vice President? You don’t have to do much, just support the President and do what you’ve already been doing.” I’m not an idiot, so I must have had a clue in the back of my mind that occasionally a Vice President has to step up to the plate and play in the big leagues. On second thought, maybe I was a little bit of an idiot on that day when I said, “OK.”

Well, if I only had Snapchat on that fateful day, so I could have captured the priceless ‘deer in the headlights’ expression on my face when I was told that the President’s daughter had decided to quit the cheer team, and the bylaws clearly state that to be a board member you have to have a child on the team. Yes, this President had to resign, and the current reigning Vice President would have to fill that role — effective immediately. If a picture or video would have gone viral, I’m pretty sure that that one would have, no doubt, made it on The Today Show with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.

The outgoing President did take the time to go over things with me (and I do give her credit for that). But some of it felt like the first day on a new job when it logically seems to make sense, but half of the material is in another language. Budgets, corporation rules, state reporting, district oversights, accounting, agendas, websites, informational emails to parents, board meetings and wait…what?

Just the fact that you are The President means that 50% of the people instantly hate you just because you are in a position of authority on their board in which they have to pay (yuck) dues.

You might be wondering at this point, if I am the type of person that is comfortable in front of crowds, leading discussions and saying things that parents who have to pay dues are not going to like. I think my approval rating just went down a little, probably around 45%, but maybe I’m being generous. Oh, the answer to that last character trait inquiry would most certainly be “no,” but no one really cares. I am expected to drive this train, and stay on the tracks. I’m in for a ride, all right, but I didn’t sign up for this; but as I’ve already stated — nobody cares. They just need me there because they sure don’t want to be in my position.

You know what? We just found out that we have to pay the district $26,000 for the coaching stipends and we are now nearly out of money. Guess what… it’s all my fault. My approval rating just went down some more, but it doesn’t matter because in this volunteer position, I can’t be impeached because I’ve done nothing wrong. Yes, for doing the best I can with the limited tools that I have, I get the honor of serving out my term until the bitter end. And there is no Vice President; I don’t know if I had mentioned that. I get to tacitly search for a replacement that will take on the honor of this frowned-upon position where getting spit on (figuratively speaking, of course) comes with the territory.

We also found out that almost 50% of the parents have not been paying any of their dues. Wait, you ask, are those the dues that were clearly laid out before the season began; the dues that we distributed on a well-defined ‘schedule of payments’ Word document, the dues that were clearly higher than most other sports, and not even partially funded by the school district? And, let me release the inner frustrated comic that resides in my brain; we have no recourse against any family that refuses to pay the dues for the sport for which they consciously enrolled. That’s right; apparently it’s my fault that those families haven’t paid their dues and may cause us to possibly cut back on some of our activities.

Parenthetically, I am no longer self-employed and don’t have the disposable free time that I once enjoyed. The time I have to come up with explanations for my actions, agendas for board meetings and talking points for the litany of complaints that will most certainly come my way is comprised of my lunch hour at work or late evenings after the stress of my day job has sufficiently dissipated.

I still enjoy taking picture of my daughter at football games. I also take pictures of the other girls on the team. They seem to like me, and to be fair, a lot of the parents also like me. I am a likeable and agreeable person (not strong character traits of a good President). I will continue to do my best in running this machine known as the cheer team. I’m sure that it will even make me a stronger person, although I may not be able to appreciate that for another year or so — in retrospect.

I find inspiration in the Taylor Swift lyrics, “haters gonna hate,” and I’m paraphrasing the rest, “but they should still pay their dues.”