So I fibbed, I have a few more confessions from that year, and they are not good ones. That same season before the LCA game, I went to a game against Hockaday and two of my girls, Emma and Araceli, were playing in a 14U game. They had only lost one all season and were looking really good. The referees didn't show up, so a volunteer stepped out on the court and called the game for the girls. Hockaday was crushing us and crushing my spirit. So, I started yelling, not cheering, but yelling at the ref. At one point, I had a real good zinger, "That's either a walk or carry, you can call either one", I yelled from the thinly populated stands at the volunteer ref who couldn't see the whole court. Oh, I was proud of my creativity, I scanned the stands to see who else was with me. Then realized that I was a jerk. I'm yelling at a referee, who is doing his best, and who obviously isn't all-seeing (just like every other ref). And of course I'm seeing things through the lens of a parent, I have bias toward my girls, so anything that doesn't go their way becomes confirmation bias, which is a terrible way to watch a game. It makes me yell at refs and makes me look and act like a jerk, disrespecting the authority that I put my girls under. So I realized: Cheering is not yelling at the refs.
Well, that same year I was at a JV Boys game at the Episcopal School of Dallas, this too was before the varsity girls taught me my lesson. My oldest son, Jacob was playing and well, our team wasn't very good. Jacob was a very dedicated player, he would hit the floor for loose balls, fight for rebounds against players twice his size, and he would never give up. Well, being a homeschool parent I was very comfortable telling Jacob what to do, I had been doing it all of his life. After all, we took on homeschooling realizing that we were 100% responsible for the education and training of our kids. During that game I got frustrated and started yelling, once again yelling not cheering. I was yelling at Jacob, things like "shoot", "set a pick", and "pressure him". I was sitting off to the side by myself and I yelled the whole game, we were getting whipped but I kept it up the whole game. After the game, I told Jacob I was proud of him, but I could tell he wasn't proud of me. I asked him if he heard me during the game, he said "yes" then he went on to tell me that a lot of the things I was telling him to do were the opposite of what the coach had told him to do in that situation or that play. Well, it took me a while to reflect and realize that I had handed him off to someone else to coach him, and that I was 100% responsible for delegating that coaching to the coach. So I realized, Cheering is not yelling (coaching) at my kids from the stands.
So all that made me look up the word cheer; it means - shout for joy or in praise or encouragement.
Let's all cheer on the Thunder and encourage on our kids, they deserve it, they want it, and we should do it. "LET'S GO THUNDER" "YOU GOT THIS' "D-UP"
Paul Leininger - Thunder Dad (of 6) and Chief Cheerleading Officer of the Leininger clan (email@example.com)