I am passionate about building intentional sports culture. It is time to shift out of the fear and coercion system in sports. The end does not justify the means. Teams that embrace the new paradigm are going to consistently bring out the potential in their members, be more connected, build more trust, foster responsibility, and create empowered individuals who will be champions in all areas of their lives.
Join me as I recognize some of the unsung heroes of the new sports paradigm. First up, Cyndi Vaughn, Dance Director from Kingwood Park High School in Kingwood, TX.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Cyndi a few weeks ago and I could feel the sense of responsibility and pride she has for her dancers. She shared with me how she felt the set-up of their dance program gives her dancers the opportunity to learn unique lessons and puts them in important learning situations that they are not exposed to in other areas of their lives.
Their season is busy and Cyndi is busy. She has 35-44 dancers each year and no assistant coach. She appoints officers, who act as captains and assistant coaches. All of us know how tricky it can be to maintain good team dynamics and many of us know how appointing captains can sometimes aggravate a negative situation with teammates and parents. But, Cyndi needs her officers. They help with choreography, running practices, and are even trained to communicate with teammates’ parents. I really enjoyed learning about the steps Cyndi takes to prepare and vet her potential officers. They have a dance tryout, plan a season schedule, plan choreography for several routines, go through a Q&A session with their teammates, and even complete a detailed questionnaire that evaluates how they would handle potentially stressful situations. The officers are trained to hold their peers accountable, with respect, and maturity. Cyndi emphasizes that respect is earned and through her welcome materials gives example after example of how to choose words carefully and conduct yourself in a way that will earn respect from teammates, parents, and school faculty.
A ritual that I appreciate for its simplicity and potential to build self-awareness and unity is Cyndi’s routine of asking each dancer to share a check in before practice, rating their mood and how they are feeling from 1-10. They just share a number, no explanation, but it helps their teammates offer them extra support and encouragement on the days when it is most needed.
She runs a tight ship, no doubt about that. And she gets amazing results out of her dancers. She sees the potential in her dancers before they see it in themselves. She often gets the feedback, “Without your belief in me, I would have never known what I had within me.”
I love Cyndi’s advice on leadership for those who are newer to the team or not in an official leadership role. Observe, observe, observe. This is their time to learn what they like about each leadership style, so when it is their turn to lead they know the kind of leader they want to be.
So clear through all our interactions is Cyndi’s love for her dancers. She values the connection she makes with each one of them. Two of her favorite things are when her dancers come back to visit after graduation and how their love of dance has led many to become directors, themselves.
Here biggest piece of advice for coaches? “Every day, trust yourself to make the right decisions for your team, trust in your outcomes. Have faith in your program.”
WHAT I THINK WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM CYNDI:
Be impeccable in your communication of expectations and you will set yourself up to keep your team accountable.
If you would like to nominate your coach to be profiled, please share this post on Facebook, tag me @coachashleighrenard and your amazing coach.