Tell us a little about yourself and your team.
My name is Shannon Lindsey. I have coached for six years at Lampasas High School. Prior to that I coached cheerleading at a local gym and did private lessons. As head coach in Lampasas we will be going into our fourth year of competing. In 2015 we were the NCA National Champions in Small Varsity Game Time. And in 2016, the state of Texas started hosting a UIL State Spirit Championship and we were named the UIL State Champions in Cheer and UIL State Champions in Dance.
When did you start coaching cheerleading?
I started out coaching cheerleading when a local gym called and asked if I would come teach a cheer class for them and take on some private lessons. That led to more clinics and other opportunities. I then was hired full time to teach and coach volleyball, basketball, and track at the local middle school. There were some problems with the high school cheerleading program and I was asked to take that over.
What was your biggest challenge when you started coaching?
When I started coaching I would say the biggest problem was gaining the trust of the parents and the cheerleaders. The program was having some serious controversy and other problems and was in complete disarray.
How did you overcome it?
I opened the lines of communication between me and the team and between me and the parents. I have an open door policy. The parents know they can contact me at any time by text or email and we can set up a time to meet in person or by phone.
What was the state of cheerleading at your school when you started?
When I was asked to take over the cheer program we had no money and not everyone had uniforms, and nothing had been ordered for the year. The prior coach had left after a lot of controversy started about her tryout process and the program was going through the grievance process by parents. On my first day on the job I had to meet with the superintendent who informed me the school board would be deciding the fate of the program at the next board meeting. One of the options the board was looking at was getting rid of the cheerleading program all together.
Why do you think the program has had such success?
It’s a team effort – between the coach, the team, and the parents. We didn’t compete for my first few years of coaching. We needed to build a program again and change the way the community saw our program. So, we started with baby steps and I changed a little at a time. The girls know that being a cheerleader is more than just a name. They are a role model and how they act inside and outside of school truly matters. We attend and volunteer at numerous community events and attend numerous school events at the elementary schools as well as the sporting events.
What is your favorite part of coaching?
My favorite part of coaching is building relationships with the girls and their families. My philosophy is to be the kind of coach I would want my own children to have. I feel like if I do that, then I can’t go wrong. Each year, I get a new group of cheerleaders, but they know I love them and that I will take care of them just like they are my own children.
What do you think your strength is in coaching and why?
I would say my strength is being organized and loving the girls. It is very important to be organized anytime you are in charge of something. And it is just in my nature to love the girls. That’s just who I am.
How do you show that to you team?
The girls know they can come to me with anything. They know I am their coach, but I will listen to any problems they have and give them my advice. Sometimes, kids just need that safe place to go and vent. They know I am their coach first and I still have my legal responsibilities, but that my door is always open if they need me.
What’s your least favorite aspect of coaching and why?
Discipline – every program has to have a discipline system and we do and I uphold it, but I don’t play bad cop very well.
Why do you still coach?
Each year is a new adventure. I have a new team each year and nothing is ever the same. Each day looks different. I love what I do and have a true passion for cheerleading. I love learning new things and new techniques. It is truly fulfilling as a coach when you get to see the team work hard all year and then achieve the goals they set for themselves.
What’s your funniest moment in coaching?
It would definitely have to be a cheer camp moment. Camp is always full of pranks, and this particular year my juniors had been pranking everyone. What they didn’t know, was everyone knew what they were doing. So, the seniors got together with the freshmen and sophomores and they got a plan together. But, they needed my help. So, I called a hallway meeting one night so abruptly that no one had a chance to lock their doors before coming to the meeting. I went over the usual topics of the day and then told the juniors I needed to see them in my room for a few more minutes. I can’t even begin to tell you what all I talked about. I literally made it up as I went. However, I made it sound really important. But, while I was meeting with the juniors, the rest of the girls went and took the mattresses out of all of their rooms and hid them in one of the senior’s rooms. Once they were done they came and told me they needed me and that was my cue they were finished. Little did we know how the juniors were about to react! As they started figuring out their mattresses were missing, they went nuts!!! They were literally running from one end of the hallway to the other, panicked, looking for their mattresses. They were screaming at the top of their lungs. It was the funniest site ever and still one of the stories that gets told every year by the girls. We were sharing the hallway with other teams and they were coming out of their rooms to see what the chaos was. You would have thought there was a fire in the building the way the girls were reacting! It was hilarious and so awesome!
What would you say to a new coach?
I would say take it one day at a time. Don’t try to make too many changes all at once. Parents and teenagers are much more accepting if it is in baby steps. Make a priority list of your changes and go with the most important ones first. Realize you are going to make mistakes and it is ok. No one is perfect. And in those most stressful times, step back and do something for yourself and re-energize yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of your team. And last but not least, get ready for the ride of your life!
What’s your best tip about coaching?
Be organized. My goal is always to be super prepared. Before going into a meeting, I try and think of all the possible questions that parents might ask, just so I am prepared and have answers. And remember to have fun. If the girls see you having fun and not stressed, they are more than likely going to have fun as well.