This Spring, we are accepting the challenge, as a family, to consciously re-engage with our after-school activities after a year of too much inactivity. In the past, we found ourselves going through the motions of classes or activities, sometimes stalling out and losing focus, other times getting caught in the rush of what really lights us up. So this season, we started our exploration with Sport of Cheer at the recommendation of a friend. And what we left with wasn’t what I expected.
With all kids in tow and two of their friends, I blew through the Sport of Cheer door like a small tornado of children for my daughter’s tumbling assessment class. For a thirty-minute assessment, I thought, we can all watch quietly from the sidelines, then go about the rest of the day. To my surprise, Coach Austin invited the entire gang to participate in the tour with a welcoming and generous attitude. So after a thorough round of sanitizing hands, shoes, and taking temps, the kids challenged themselves to get out every hula hoop, cone, mat, bouncy ball and play on every surface they had to offer!
Don’t be fooled by the Cheer part of the name, Sport of Cheer is so much more. From the website, I could see they offered Parkour, but at the mention of it to my moody eleven-year-old son, I was quickly shot down with a “No! No. No. No. Definitely not.” Full-on eye roll included.
Our half-hour assessment was at 4 PM and yet they allowed us to stay until 6 PM, still “touring” the space, all kids exhausted in the happiest of ways, red-faced but begging to stay. If they had a food truck outside, we probably would never have left. My three-year-old played as I had never seen her play before, and we will now be attending their Basic Training class. I’m not going to lie, the treasure box at the end of each class may be what she’s most excited about as she still brags about the kitty-ear headband she snagged at her spontaneous assessment class.
In commiserating with other parents, our tribe of friends feels this Covid year has been particularly challenging for pre-teen boys. As my son jumped from challenge to challenge at Sport of Cheer’s different surfaces, Coach Austin literally bounced in and gave him the subtle encouragement he so desperately needs but doesn’t know how to ask for. A sneaky introduction to the sport of Parkour was made. Parkour is new to our family. It’s defined as“the activity or sport of moving rapidly through an area, typically in an urban environment, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing.”
I saw a spark in my son yesterday that gave me that parental sigh of relief, like a deep breath after holding it for a year. After a year lacking inspiration and then hours of spontaneous playing and tumbling, he was beet-red and exhausted all over, only to be turned over to Coach Jacob, the Parkour instructor. It was his turn for a spontaneous ability assessment.
I could tell he was barely hanging on, simultaneously tired and wired, also wanting to impress Coach Jacob. I wasn’t sure how the drills were going to go. Would this push too hard and the fun would be over? Fortunately, quite the opposite. Naturally, there’s room for improvement on his technique, but he flew through the assessment happily, with a “challenge accepted” attitude, and begged to keep playing.
On our way out, I casually told all three kids they were signed up for classes twice a week, waiting for a mix of reactions but was met with an overwhelming “AWESOME!!!” from ALL three. We successfully shifted our mindset from “No. No way. Definitely not. Eyeroll” into car-wide CHEERS by the end of the day. The only disappointment was that it’s only twice a week! “Why can’t we go back tomorrow?!”
For this mama, yesterday was one of the best days of my whole year. When your kids are happy and chasing their bliss. When they have space to ‘just be kids again’ – it is only then that I have been able to see the new growth ready to blossom and that I can take a rest. Everyone ate like a champ and slept like a rock, including me. “Cheer” isn’t just for girls, it’s so much more. I encourage anyone interested to pack a dinner and schedule a Friday afternoon assessment that leads to new strength, confidence, and joy for the whole family!