Stephanie Britt Discusses The Role of Parents in Helping Their Child Cheer in College
Cheerleading is a challenging sport, taking years of training and competing for cheerleaders to master the required skills. Those who want to get into cheerleading start joining a squad as early as elementary school and allow yourself time to move up to high school, and some even into college.
Parents of cheerleaders also have roles to fulfill, between driving your kid to practices, watching every game, and motivating your child, cheering is a sport that requires a lot of time, effort, and commitment. But if your child has dreams of cheering in college, there are several changes in your role as a parent, especially if the college is nowhere close to home.
Stephanie Britt, founder of all-star competition cheer gym Cheer Savannah, Inc., shares a few tips for cheer parents who want to continue supporting their kid’s cheering career. Although parents cannot be as hands-on as they were during their child’s high school cheering days, Stephanie Britt notes that parents still have a crucial role in helping their child succeed.
- The athletic preparation is a given, but Stephanie Britt is quick to note that before your athlete can CHEER in college, she must GET INTO college. So while focusing on her fitness and cheer skills are necessary, there must be a focus on academics, tutoring, GPA, and standardized testing. Stephanie wants all athletes to know that colleges use your grades starting your freshman year in high school to determine your acceptance. Academics first!
2. Guide your child through the application process, but have her handle it.
Applying to schools is an art that your school councilor can often advise you about. It is essential to apply early enough to have ample time for decision making, but sometimes early application is NOT a good idea if your academics are not as competitive as the students applying.
3. Britt notes that unlike basketball or football recruiting, cheer coaches usually do not actively recruit cheerleaders. They host clinics and expect you to attend to get to meet you and see your cheer skills as well as how well you get along with others. Have your child reach out to coaches via e-mail, introducing themselves and giving information on their cheer skills and finding out about clinics and tryouts. Also remind your student to check his/her social media accounts and do some clean-up if necessary. Coaches do check prospects’ profiles to somehow evaluate their personality, and rejection over some online posts is not something that parents and students want to happen.
4. Encourage your college student to honestly assess his/her cheer skills.
College cheering can be an extremely competitive playing field compared to high school. It is important for your child to be honest in evaluating their skills. Top colleges have high standards or specific requirements when admitting new squad members, so it is best to know where your child stands to give them a better idea of which universities offer teams for their skill level and ability. Smaller colleges are often desperate for athletes that are NOT world caliber cheerleaders so do not let tumbling skills be a deterrent as some colleges only require handsprings and tucks while the top programs may require falls and beyond.
5. Your athlete will need to do all of the communicating with the coach.
Your child’s coach will most likely be his/her second parent on campus. As such, it is important for parents to know the coach and how to reach him if an emergency should arise. But otherwise, Stephanie Britt says it is vital to have your athlete handle her own business and speak for herself. Parents must allow their kid to make all communication and register for cheer clinics herself and teach her to speak to the coach with all concerns. This is hard for hands-on parents to let go, but collegiate coaches DO NOT deal with parents. As soon as you can cut the cord, the better able your athlete will be able to handle life without mom.
6. Support, encourage, and motivate your child.
Getting through the academic aspect of college is difficult. Being a cheerleader makes it tougher, demanding extra time and physical effort. As a cheer parent herself, Stephanie Britt reminds parents to continue to show love and support throughout their child’s cheer journey. Sending goody bags in the mail, ordering some amazon products they may need will give them a smile, but mostly listening. Stephanie suggests a visit and possibly taking her to get nails done will help with stress. But, do not melt from her tears and call the coach or intervene. As hard as it is the first year, parents must let them learn how to adjust and not intervene to make the journey easier. It is a certain and necessary part of the journey. Give them a call or message them to check how everything’s going. When there are bad practices or competition outcomes, encourage them and remind them how far they have come and how much they have grown as a cheerleader.
Through these tips, Stephanie Britt hopes your family can make a plan for cheering in college and can help your athlete reach her dreams.
Stephanie Britt — Owner and Founder of Cheer Savannah, Inc.
Growing up with a love for cheering, Stephanie Britt has built a tumbling business in Cochran, Georgia when she was just 17 years old. She now continues to help transform the lives of cheerleaders through Cheer Savannah, Inc., an all-star competition cheer gym in Pooler, Georgia that provides a competitive cheer program in a state-of-the-art training facility.