As an HR professional, I consistently interview and try to recruit candidates based upon their ability and willingness to be able to join my office’s “team”. I rarely use words like “office” to describe everyone working in our office, but replace it with “team”.
Why? Simple. Because at the end of the day, one spends more time with their co-workers than with their family. Being with a team of co-workers that are similar to a family environment typically ensures success in the workplace.
This is something that I’ve noticed and was instilled within me ever since participating on numerous team sports when I was younger. For those that have had the opportunity to truly be a part of a close-knit and collaborative team, the whole concept of being on a team and part of a family slowly morphs into one of the same.
Your team is your family and your family becomes a team. It’s a beautiful thing to have but a rare thing to have and find. Having participated on a myriad of team sports, I developed and established good friendships with many of my teammates. There is only one sport that I can honestly say has the ability to truly elicit a sense of family and team pride with every member of the team. I’ve seen it in competitions. I’ve seen it talking to anyone that’s previously been a part of the sport. The sense of team bonding and family stays and is inherent in you no matter how long you’ve been out of the sport.
So- what sport am I talking about? Cheerleading.
I’ll be honest- I haven’t been cheerleading since 2009 so it’s been awhile from doing toe-touches or any sort of stunting.
That being said, it wasn’t until recently where I’ve learned to appreciate just how much cheerleading has made an impression on my professional life simply for exhibiting and instilling the importance of developing a sense of teamwork within the workplace.
Anyone who has been involved with the sport of cheerleading would know that the average season typically lasts for a great majority of the year. When I first started cheerleading in 1998, our team was the only team in our high school which pretty much practiced throughout summer vacation until February for Nationals.
Because of the very nature of the sport in which all participants need to be actively involved in order to successfully execute a routine is an understatement. This isn’t a sport in which fill-ins or substitutes can be used on a daily basis. No. To be consistent, everyone involved in a stunt has to be able to practice.
I remember days where I was feeling ill and shouldn’t have gone to school; however, forcing myself to go simply because I knew my stunt group needed me. Yes, it probably isn’t in the best interest to potentially get the rest of your team sick; however, when a competition is coming up, you want to give it your all for the team.
Because of the length of the season, there were tons of arguments, bickering and stress that arose simply because of the close nature of the team. How can anyone possibly spend virtually all waking hours possibly get along with everyone?
That all changed once we competed. It’s truly difficult for anyone to say they know the feeling of being a part of a team when they have never was on one. It’s a feeling of pride that can never be replicated. Once you walk in to the venue, all harsh feelings against one another goes away and a sense of pride, teamwork and family are illicited. The feeling is truly amazing.
So – why am I now, at 32 years old, recounting for my years in cheerleading, particularly during my high school years close to 15 years ago?
About a few weeks ago, my news feed had several postings regarding requests to social media to send prayers to the family of one of their cheerleaders in their all-star cheerleading program. A young 11 year old named Teagan was in the hospital fighting for her life. She cheered for an all-star cheerleading program in Connecticut. I remember saying a prayer in my head for her to get well. Since I didn’t actually know her, I didn’t think too much about it until I started noticing my social media trending for #TucksforTeagan. The name sounded familiar and when I clicked it, I noticed cheerleaders posting videos of themselves doing back tucks to show their support for a speedy recovery for that very same Teagan.
I remember viewing several videos and being in complete awe of amazement. The support didn’t just hail locally. There were posts of teams from all over the country. All-star cheerleaders hailing from Florida, New Jersey, California, Texas…. pretty much every state was covered.
It was at this time where I sat back and started remembering just how much of a bond we had as a cheerleading team. Then, I realized just how much respect and appreciation I had for other cheerleading teams even when we were competing against them.
Sadly, after a few days, I saw someone post that young Teagan passed away. Social media, which just a few days before were posting for recovery, soon became inundated with the cheer community offering their thoughts and prayers for her family, teammates, and friends.
Family Bond never Dies
Even though many didn’t know Teagan personally (as like myself), the bond that develops similar to a family resonates throughout the cheer community. Everyone knows the hard work, long hours and the passion that goes with every 3 minute routine. Everyone also knows that when one person is out an entire team has essentially lost a vital part. Each and every teammate is like an individual puzzle piece part of a puzzle. When one is out, the puzzle is not completed.
Teagan’s story resonated with the cheer community because everyone knew the heartache of missing that one part of the bond that every team develops throughout the year. So, even being out of cheerleading for years, like a family, I cried for Teagan. We all cried.