Michelle started coaching cheer when she was a college student, studying education in Grand Rapids, MI. After graduating, she took a job teaching fourth grade in Houston, TX.
One day, out of the blue, she received a call from the Athletic Director at Alma College. Would she be willing to come to the college to start a cheer program?
Michelle said no. She had planned to be a teacher. She loved coaching cheer, but leaving the profession she had trained for was not in her plan.
She was asked again and again. And she kept saying no.
Everything she had done up to this point had been so planned out and her goal of being a teacher had directed all of her decisions. She was scared to change her plan, to set off on this new adventure, to change the course of her life.
Finally, Alma was able to convince Michelle to give it a go, to come to the school, take on the position of head coach, and start to build a cheer program. Michelle began in February of 2012, cold-calling recruits, trying to start the program from scratch. She had to sell herself and the program she was creating to convince the recruits to come to Alma.
She set up challenging practices, to determine if her new recruits would have the mental toughness to not give up. Unknowingly, she established the foundation for tenacity that would drive the program’s success. Still, she had doubts about whether or not she had made the right decision.
As her time at Alma progressed and her first team began to come together, those doubts started to fall away. Only two months into the school year, Michelle realized, “This is what I was meant to do.”
A few of us in this world know this feeling, when your passion and your profession align so magically that you know, without hesitation, that there is no better place in the world for you to be.
This is what Michelle felt. And this is what she wants to guide her athletes towards. She encourages them, do not be afraid to take the class that sounds fun, do not be afraid to follow your heart. Take that passion you have for cheerleading and let that feeling guide you to what you would be passionate about in your career. When you are doing what you love, you will be doing it well.
During our conversation, Michelle exuded passion for her team and her sport. I imagine she is the kind of coach who’s energy is rapidly contagious.
So, how did Michelle take a non-existent program and turn it into a National Championship program in just five, short years? And, also to three 2nd place finishes at Nationals in that time period, as well?
This season the team focused exclusively on their Core Covenants. Here are their covenants and how they define them.
- Passion – perfect effort, no regrets, doing the work with love
- Tenacity – focusing on the right way instead of the easy way, working hard when no one is watching
- Unity – focusing on what the team needs, what can I do to help my teammates?
And what did Michelle do to help her team get over that hump of finishing 2nd to finally winning that National Championship?
She stopped focusing on winning.
They focused completely on their Core Covenants. The 35 young women on the team each bought in fully to the process of focusing only on what they could control and trusting in themselves and their teammates.
Before receiving their results at the National Championships they repeated over and over to each other, no matter what, we are proud. And, as Michelle shared, that is a lesson each one of them will take into their lives beyond college cheer at Alma.
WHAT I THINK WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM MICHELLE:
Take the passion you have for your sport and use that feeling to guide you toward the decisions and the path that will be the most fulfilling in your life. Insist on living a life of joy and you will find the place where you will make the biggest impact.
P.S. If you would like to nominate your phenomenal coach, please share this link of Facebook, tag me (@coachashleighrenard), and share your coach’s name. I am looking for my next round of coaches to interview.
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