Don’t Let The Competition Get Away From Us!

We had an amazing weekend this weekend at All Out Nationals! 4 of our 5 teams placed top 3 and 3 of those placed second among a fairly large number of teams in each division! Our program has grown to become one to beat! I had a number of program Directors and Gym owners come up to me and compliment us on how amazing our athletes are and how great the routines look! Our coaching staff has worked for years to reach this point and our athletes work very hard to “Xcel” both with their individual skills and as teams. The dynamic of each team is very different yet they all have one thing in common… they support and care for each other! When our kids came off the floor this weekend there were so many smiles and so much excitement! A few kids made mistakes and were disappointed in themselves so I asked the team to raise their hands if they have ever made a mistake and every athlete raised their hands! Those athletes very quickly realized they are not alone… we are a team and we all make mistakes. I told them what is important is that we learn from our mistakes and work to improve ourselves for the future. I have a very successful Great Uncle Bill who’s definition of success is… “I believe success is the culmination of winning, losing, false starts, confusion, and the DETERMINATION to keep going anyway.” You cannot be successful without first failing… sometimes that means one competition sometimes that means years of failing to reach an end goal. If I gave up every time I failed this gym would have never opened. I opened Xcel 360 with a $1000 left to my name, out of a job and house beginning to be foreclosed on… No one would have faulted me for giving up but I just couldn’t allow myself to do such a thing and I could never let a defeat keep me from striving to be the best I can. If I can instill any of that into our athletes I will! I want our kids to understand that we can’t always win but we can always give 100% and never give up! I’ve always said it’s not just about winning but this weekend it really hit me hard… yes I was disappointed but I couldn’t feel angry because I was so incredibly proud of what these kids have accomplished and how much they have grown since they started with Xcel 360!

I have been doing this All Star thing for 14 years now and every day I learn something new. The biggest lessons learned are never from the wins… The biggest lessons learned for me as a coach is from something that went wrong, a loss, a mistake… etc. Part of what makes our program keep getting better every year is that we are very open to learning and growing while many other programs get stuck in their ways. We do our best to instill that in our kids here at Xcel! We are not afraid to make mistakes and don’t want our kids to be either. Have you have ever heard the quote or saying “Life is a journey, not a destination?” That is so true! Sometimes we focus on where we are headed so much we forget to live in the moment and enjoy life. So much happiness can come from the enjoyment of the journey… take this weekend for example:

  • You got to spend time with your family!
  • Kids got to enjoy the time playing with friends – in the pool, going to dinner, checking out the alligators on the rock in the hotel, hanging out before warm ups!
  • Parents got to enjoy time with friends!
  • The excitement of getting ready for the big event each day – putting on the uniform, bows, make up, doing your hair… this makes the kids feel special and its exciting!
  • The kids work together in warm-ups to get through each skill and cheer each other on and if something is not going well they cheer them on even more!
  • How about performing on stage, the adrenaline rush, the excitement, they get to basically be famous for just 2 minutes and 30 seconds like a Rockstar with all the lights, music and fans… they get to share that with their friends, teammates and families! In that moment, it doesn’t matter what place they get… it is just fun and invigorating!
  • The teams coming together to achieve one goal of hitting a Zero deduction routine and executing the difficult skills that they work so hard to achieve and for all to see!

That is the journey! The placement is best stated in Sidewinders Pyramid song… “There’s more to life than just winning, though we strive to be our best. So much in this world that’s worth giving, we stand tall along with the rest.”

Every athlete sick, injured or otherwise gave 100% and enjoyed themselves! No matter what, there will be a certain amount of disappointment when you don’t get the placement you expected but that’s all it is just disappointing… not the overall meaning behind the whole experience. I overheard some Dads from another program talking in the restroom at the end of the competition… they were complaining about how their kids’ team wasn’t good enough to go to Cheersport because they can’t win… they fail to understand that Cheersport, although it would be great to win, is truly great for the shear experience of it all! It is an amazing event where teams from all over the country get together to compete! Kids can make new friends, watch teams they have never seen before, experience a much grander scale competition and energy level! It is the experience that makes it worth going… not the win. If that was true 1 out of every hundred teams or so would enjoy the weekend but realistically most have a great time!

I was reading this article this morning (link below), she said “…No kid needs this pressure. Their coaches want to win, and their teammates want to win. Knowing that they could let down their parents is counterproductive.” It is human nature to be competitive and the sport we are in is competitive but we cannot lose sight of the most import aspects… the real reasons why being in a sport is good for kids and All Star Cheer is one of the best sports in terms of learning some of life’s most important lessons.

“Wanting to win is human, it always feels better than losing.  But our larger job as parents is not to teach our kids to do what feels best, but rather to equip them for life without us.” We have to prepare them for losses in life and how to handle them… I learned this the hard way! I would get fuming mad in my earlier days of coaching and get into arguments with the event producers and judges about scores and then one day I realized that I am setting a bad example by teaching not only our athletes but my own daughter at the time that it is ok to throw basically and adult temper tantrum because we didn’t get our way that day! I still stand up for our kids and fight certain aspects when appropriate but I do so in a much calmer yet assertive manor. I want our kids to learn to be confident young adults and I know they all watch me closely so I will do everything in my power to be the role model I believe your kids deserve from a coach as well as for my own daughters. I’m not perfect I slip up at times but I quickly catch myself and reel I back in.

I was disappointed in a couple of our placements and I shared that with the kids. We spoke in back after awards and they were disappointed too and I let them know that is ok to feel that way but they should be proud and happy because they did an amazing job! They were disappointed but still smiling after awards in back with me… then we came out and they saw the disappointment on many of the parents faces and their smiles disappeared. Winning wasn’t the end all be all… the kids did AMAZING and they should know that our parents are here to support them… I don’t ever want our athletes to feel like they let down their parents or even other parents from kids on their team. It also is very tough on the coaches who already feel what you may be feeling and walk out to so many looks of disappointment because we don’t want to let you down either. Sometimes other teams are just better, sometimes we have silly mistakes, sometimes it’s just bad luck! You cannot win every time even though some gyms fool you into thinking they do… its only because they post the Wins not the losses… I am proud of both! It took me a long time to get there but I truly see the greatness in the overall experience! These kids love spending time together, our coaching staff loves our athletes and our parents are top notch in this Cheer industry! Let’s not lose our humility/ humbleness as our confidence and strength continues to grow as a program… remember there is no ying without yang…. Confidence without humility is just cockiness. We received a number of wonderful text messages thanking us for all of our hard work and for an amazing weekend so I wanted to say thank you for those messages! That means more to us than you can ever believe! Thank you all for being a part of our Xcel family and I look forward to growing as a program with you all and as a family!


Thank you!!

~Coach Chris


Chris Highbrown


An article about a Mom and her competitiveness with her kids… Great short read!