Guest Post by Ashley Lipman
It’s that time of year again. Cheerleading competitions are being booked and kids everywhere are getting geared up for the season. Whether this is your kid’s first year in cheer or if they have been competing for a while, there is one thing you need to know. They will need the right gear. It is required, and it is expected.
We have compiled this checklist to help you get started. Be proactive. Know what you need and arrange to have it in plenty of time. Cheer is a challenging sport, and the last thing a kid needs is to be worried that they will not have their required gear before time runs out.
First things first
Before you start handing out deposits and ordering online, take your child to a tailor to be measured. Having the correct measurements of their body will make ordering easier. It removes the guesswork. As you know, all manufacturers do not use the same standards to set sizes. This is why you may wear a small, but have at least a few size mediums in your closet.
- Dance/gym bag
A cheerleaders bag takes a beating. They are stuffed, thrown, used as pillows, shoved in compartments, and generally kicked around. Take a look at your bag, Is it time to replace it? Most people replace their bag every year. If your bag is still in good condition, take the time to wash it and freshen it. But, if the bag is ripped, faded, stained, or smelly, please buy a new one.
- Get your lists
It may seem early, but ask your cheer instructor for a list of items your child will need. They probably have a basic list on their computer. This will allow you plenty of time to take advantage of sales, online deals, and swap-meets.
There are basics that you will need every year. They are:
- Warm-up clothes
- Camp and practice clothes
- Note: some companies have official practice clothes. Ask before you buy.
- Uniforms for games
- Uniforms/outfits for competitions
- Cheer skirts
- Correct shoes
These are the first items you must invest in. Once you have these, you have more time to work on the other important items.
Take your lists, and the information you have researched online, and set a budget. Determine how much all of their supplies, trips, food and travel expenses will cost.
Can you afford this without help? If not, now is the time to get the ball rolling. Other cheer parents are probably in the same boat. Set up a Go Fund Me account. Arrange fundraising events to help the kids raise the money they need. Consider these:
- Cheerleader car wash
- Yard sales
- Pet grooming, bathing, or walking service
- Parents night out child care
- Sponsor-driven walk-a-thon
- After school tutoring
Get creative and help the kids raise the money they need. They will appreciate being able to go much more when they had to work for it.
Note: Be sure you get and keep all receipts for deposits and purchases. Read the receipts carefully. If they have a no return policy and the item falls apart with one use, you may have a problem.
Get with the instructor and find out if there is a costume selected for the year or if you will have to design the costume your child will be wearing. If you find it is up to you, find the person who will help you make the costume and put down a deposit. Be sure you have the costume at least a month before the competitions. This will allow you time for alterations if any are needed.
Request a meeting
Well before the competing season starts, request a meeting with the coaches and instructors. Suggest that the meeting include all the parents and the students. This can be done via email or on social media. Let him or her know that you are interested in the following:
- Confirmation of calendars
- Include dates, times, who will be supervising, and financial responsibilities (for meals, drinks, room accommodations, and fees)
- Last minute preparations for the apparel
- How to wash the costume
- Do you need to add sequins or beads?
- Any special requirements for hair and hair products
- Do they require your child to bring their warm-up and practice clothes?
- Are you responsible for getting your child there or will there be a bus or vans transporting them?
- If you are sharing rides, be sure to agree upon a fair price before you go.
Support your team
This is especially important if your child is going to nationals. But, no matter what level they are competing in, they want and need your support. Order team tees for yourself and other family members. Consider buying an extra warm-up jacket to wear. Let your child and the team know that you are 100% on board. This means a lot to the kids.
Finally, well before the big day, take inventory to ensure you have not forgotten anything. Clean the uniforms and shoes. Make a list of everything your child needs for the trip. Include personal products and any medication they take. Double check your expenses and be sure you have not forgotten anything that needs to be paid.
By being proactive, you can have a stress-free cheer season. Space out your responsibilities and make sure everything is checked and double checked. This frees you to support and enjoy your child and their team.