For days I’ve been seeing posts back and forth about All Star Worlds and scoring. The crazy moms groups are weighing in on the scoring and overall event as much as the coaches, so I thought I’d provide my opinion as well. I’ll go in depth on the various aspects for those who might consider this versus another event in the future, but it’s not unlike my blogs to strike a cord with people one way or the other, so bear with me.
While scoring seemed low, I remembered this being the case last year as well. Points were about four points below what we normally score. The judges were incredibly picky, but I fully expect that at end-of-season events. I appreciate the grace in November, but I know we better point our toes by May! At the same time, some of our divisions had 70+ teams in them divided into four panels. Had judges exercised leniency, our scores would have been too close in most divisions. All it took was a couple of messages to other owners I knew in those panels (thanks to Next Gen for that sort of networking!) and I knew the scoring was fairly done across the board.
I’m seeing a lot about politics playing into scoring at both major end-of-season events this weekend. I haven’t been to a Varsity event in years, so I can’t speak to D2 Summit, but I can speak to ASW. I know some of the judges on those panels, and they are not into cheer politics. They want to see the best teams win. So how can someone get a ZERO when there was an evident fall? Well, I’ll spill the tea on how my Y2 managed it.
My Youth 2 does a stunt during running tumbling. The flyer hits a handstand over the backspot’s shoulders, sits up into a shoulder sit, and then goes over into prep. On the first day, she set for the handstand based off the backspot, and as she was doing that, the backspot found the center of the panel and readjusted his positioning. He missed her feet entirely, and she went sideways ending in a cartwheel/roundoff sort of thing. The stunt never made it up. I was already doing my homework when the scoresheet came in. It showed a building fall of .75. To an uneducated coach or parent – it was an evident fall. To someone who studies scoresheets (and many of you are WAY better than me even), it was a technicality. She never officially lost contact with the performance surface and remained in a handstand until she went sideways – luckily landing on her feet. Therefore, the performance surface beared all weight and it could not be a building fall. She also landed on her feet when attempting an inversion, thereby not counting as an athlete fall. The stunt was safe. No one truly fell. It was a miscalculation. When I went to scorecheck, I completed the form. As the scoring official took me back into the cubical, he showed me the video and told me he agreed and would be reversing it.
There were ZERO politics in that call. I can totally see how a judge a mile away may have thought her hand came off the ground and gave us a building fall. I happened to be in the exact right spot to see her handstand happen and see both of her hands, so I knew it never made it to “building” and had confirmed with a parent video from another angle to make sure I wasn’t crazy.
But here’s the thing. A parent or coach who watched from a distance might have disagreed. Without knowing the context, that coach likely thought the judge turned the other way. I’m not saying there isn’t politics in cheer, but I have a small cheer program in the middle of nowhere in Missouri, and I felt like we were fairly judged this weekend.
I visited Score Check a couple times that day. I have to give a huge compliment to every scoring official there with whom I worked. At one point, every one of them said, “I’m on your side. I want to help you get back any points you may have missed.” They weren’t giving points away, but they were carefully reviewing every video. I even had a dismount that I asked the official to watch over and over as we discussed what constituted “extended” versus “half-extension” as a proper prep-level dismount. He was patient and gracious. Firm, but gracious, as he honored my request to dig deep into the glossary and carefully pause the video every few milliseconds.
Good coaches make sure their teams get every point. Good judges do their best to see everything and judge fairly. Judges are human – the same way I am human and have missed legalities on my own teams over the years.
My parents were pretty amazing this week. I sat them all down and explained, “As much as I want us to experience awards together, this is a big event and coaches are advocating for their teams, which means scorecheck is a busy place, and finalist announcements will be delayed. Please go enjoy the parks and tune in online.” If you’re not teaching your parents what it means when you read your scoresheet and rush off to scorecheck, I recommend doing it. Parents were thanking my coaches right and left for knowing our stuff and communicating what was happening. They were also grateful that we pivoted to make finalist announcements entirely optional to attend.
There are a few threads out there on crazy mom groups that indicate to me that quite a few aren’t doing that. Some coaches and owners are withholding scoresheets and feedback from parents. In my early days of coaching, I wasn’t confident or educated enough to explain what some of the comments meant. We didn’t catch difficulty errors, tech drivers and legalities the way we do today, and the last thing you wanted to do was break your credibility with parents. But you know what changed? When I realized that the parent is the customer as much as the child is. The parent wants to be involved and understand the sport if nothing else – then simply to bond with their child. Once we educate parents, they become supportive of our cause. They support a 2-hour practice of cleaning motions and jumps and they’re on your side when their 10-year-old comes home and says, “We didn’t do anything at practice. It was boring.”
If you’re not confident in yourself, fix that. Join Forte Spirit Solutions FREE facebook group and start reading the posts. Get a choreographer who will answer your questions and spend some time training your staff while at your gym.
Parents who understand a bit of the scoresheet will also enjoy watching the sport more. If we can explain that tumbling timing is just as important as a flyer locking out his/her legs, then the parents can enjoy the sport without feeling like “politics” are the reason their team didn’t advance.
Do parents step on toes a bit when they think they know a scoresheet really, really well? Yes. Sometimes. But it’s your job as the coach or owner to know it better and have a rhyme and reason for everything you do. We don’t change routines because we get bored with them. We change them to make something score better, be safer or develop a progression to the next level.
I wasn’t in all the halls or arenas this weekend. I understand there may have been chaos I didn’t see. I can also tell you, my athletes and coaches bonded more than ever before at this event. Our senior teams struggled, but they will have an opportunity at redemption when a new season starts in just a few weeks. Our youth teams probably secured their spot at my gym for years to come (not because we won…in fact we were proud of top 30), but because we developed a deeper love for our sport as coaches, athletes and parents.
As the bus dropped us off at airport parking today, the last thing I said was, “Guys, that was fun. I want to do it again next year.” Exhausted and hungry, my body was weak, but I was on fire for our sport. I hope everyone had an amazing end of season and is ready to celebrate it and start the new one in the coming weeks!
My main points for our non-readers:
  1. Know the scoresheet and advocate for your teams.
  2. Communicate with parents and educate them.