Normally, I’m feeling pretty excited this time of year. While some people don’t handle change well, the start of a new season always has me feeling fired up and ready for a new chapter. This year though…it has been a little tougher than others, and I’ve talked to a few gym owners lately who are feeling it too. 

This past season was the first one in 12 years I have felt that were were adequately staffed. Now, I could always use another hip hop coach, but on the cheer side – it felt good. A couple of my coaches were hoping to do maybe one less team this year, but I also had a couple who did really amazing as assistant coaches and were ready to take on their own team. Back in February and March, when I thought about Season 13, I was like one of those cartoon characters with hearts in her eyes.

But then things slowly started to change. Like anyone in a small town, getting new staff can be very challenging at times. 

So, cheer and tumbling coaches have always been hard for us. In fact, we’ve had to “home grow” the majority of our current competitive staff. 

So when we found out two of our competitive coaches (both former athletes) found out they could graduate college early, I started to feel a little concerned. One would be starting her nursing career (and from what I’ve heard…that is NOT the time to have a second job…) and the other would be moving a few states away after graduation. 

Ok, so my cheer coaching staff was going to go from eight to six, I thought. One of those coaches was a head coach, and the other was an assistant coach, so while I was worried, I thought, “If one coach picks up one more team – or even if I just coach a team this year – we’ll be fine.”

Then I got some bittersweet news from our longest, most experienced coach. She got married last year and found out she was pregnant with her first child. She has a full-time career as a preschool teacher, and is likely going to be offered the director position for her district in the next year or two. I get it. Maintaining all of that as a first-time mom is a challenge. I imagine she’ll be back in a year or two, and we’ll be back in shape. 

In the meantime, I’ll definitely have to coach a team or two, and then we’ll just need to figure out how to pick up the slack.

However, the day after we got home from Orlando, the last bit of the ball dropped.

My all star director, who is a full-time employee and manages our nine all star teams and two hip hop teams, asked for a meeting. She graduated college in May 2023, and started full-time at the gym the week after graduation. She notified me that she felt like she needed to be using her degree and had been looking for a position more in line with her degree for about a month. She was offered, and had just accepted, a full-time position over an hour away. She’d be moving in July. 

So now I was down to four coaches…

The promising season ahead of us was starting to look darker and darker. Those of us remaining included two full-time gym owners, a full-time gym manager with many other responsibilities, and a full-time college student who was also a college cheerleader with a demanding schedule.

I told Justin I was writing this blog this morning. His response? “Oh, OK. So, what are you going to say was the solution?” 

I couldn’t do anything but laugh. 

“Well, Justin. I’m not sure yet,” I replied.

“So, what is the point of the blog?” he said.

“I guess to let people know that if they’re a little stressed and dealing with staffing shortages right now, they’re not alone.” 

So all day, I sat on this blog thinking, what can I possibly tell you that would help if you’re losing coaches or athletes this season? 

  1. It’s invaluable to have people in your corner. Friday night, I spent over an hour talking through the options with one of our Next Gen coaches. We walked through the options of combining various teams, staffing just a single coach on each team, and even pushing a few kids to another team and starting our youth/junior novice teams later this fall. I know I would have eventually thought through all of these options, but when you feel like you are pulled in 20 different directions, sometimes your ability to think clearly is literally paralyzed.  
  2. Thank God I spent the last couple of years pursuing systems for our all star program. I do believe systemizing an ever-changing all star season is especially challenging. But the Next Gen Owners Academy has over 100 gyms that have worked together to develop a comprehensive checklist of things that need to be done each month of the season to ensure you’re always on track. There’s nothing worse than remembering you never paid the invoice for bows and now parents are asking where they are. 
  3. Your program has got to improve each season. When we announced that it was our director’s final season with us, none of our parents or athletes panicked. They know that every year, for 12 years, despite staffing changes, moving to a new building, COVID and the ever changing scoresheet (even after choreography), we refuse to be only as good as the previous season. Now…some years our teams are more successful on the mat than others. Some years my inversions are actually inverted (I said I’d only complain about that until July, and then I’ll get over it, I swear. 🤣) But the program, as a whole, is always improving. I can venture to say, I’m committed to making sure this season is the best, most clear and forward-thinking season we’ve ever had with parent communication. I am also committed to ensuring our kids truly excel in tumbling and jumps (not just those who are actually choreographed in tumbling and jumps). 

So, as I sit here, already a little exhausted on the first day of the new season…I hope you’ve picked up on a few things: 

  • If your upcoming season is presenting a whole new challenge for you, you’re not alone.
  • Having people who understand is vital to turning your situation around.
  • Systemize your program so you can get stuff done in half the time and give yourself plenty of time to work on upcoming tasks. (NG can help you systemize all of this as well as help you learn what can be delegated, and what needs to be done by you.)
  • We can help you continue to be successful on and off the mat. Did you see an exodus of senior athletes? We’re experts at helping you build teams that are profitable and still allow your athletes to thrive.

To learn more about the Next Gen Academy and how we can help you this season, book a call at!