The Basics on Becoming Captain
By Yamaris Donis

You’ve worked hard the past couple of years to show your team and coach that you are dedicated and reliable, and it’s all paid off—you’ve been named captain! But with this role come many responsibilities, none of which are easy. Being captain can be stressful and sometimes a bit hurtful. So now that you have this authority, how do you keep your friends and teammates from looking at you as a dictator rather than a team member?

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the gym.
Nobody said being team captain was going to be a breeze, so before you take the responsibility, make sure you can take the pressure that comes with the title. Sometimes your teammates will look at you differently just because you’re captain. Don’t take it personally and make sure you know the difference between being a good leader and being a good friend.
Your teammates are going to look at you to be the example setter for the team and everyone is going to have his or her own opinion about how you handle this leadership position. Remember to take your teammates’ feelings into consideration and use constructive comments in place of hurtful criticism.
You are still part of the team and have to realize that your decisions effect an entire group of individuals, not just yourself. When you become a leader, you have to be able to handle tough situations—bad attitudes, missed practices and personal problems—but you are not the coach or the team counselor. If a problem occurs that you can’t handle, don’t be afraid to talk to your coach about it; things will only get worse if you try to take the situation into your own hands.

Look out, girlfriend!
Attitudes are a part of everyday life. Everyone has a bad day once in a while, but be sure your attitude doesn’t make every day a bad day. It’s very easy to allow the added responsibility to send you on a power trip, and the team will look at you harshly if this happens. Being captain of a team is a privilege, not an excuse for telling your teammates what to do. Have a good attitude about things, and when something is not going as planned, find an answer, don’t dwell on the problem. Let the team know how you feel about being captain. Tell them that they can give you ideas and suggestions. By letting your team in on the whole organizational process and routine designing, you’ll also allow them to feel as if they are more a part of the team. Every time they give you an idea, really consider it and bring it to your coach. Let your teammates know they have a say in what goes on with the team.

Aim high…
Now people all over school know that you are captain and everyone wants to know how you will make the team stronger. Set goals for the team, as well as yourself. Make sure you work just as hard as captain as you did when your were trying to prove yourself as someone worthy of the job. Now that you have earned your position, don’t get lazy—this is the time to show everyone why you were selected. Work to get new recruits on the team by making friends with the new kids at school and letting them know what being a part of the squad is like. Make an effort to grow with the team and let everyone know that you want to see the team excel. Be on top of your game and have new material ready so practices never get boring. Contact cheer organizations for camp and competition ideas. Use the Internet and magazines to find information on new stunts and pyramids. Put your knowledge to the test and try to find new things that the team can work on. This will show them that you want to see change and you’re willing to work for it.
Becoming captain of a team comes with hard work and lots of responsibility, but if you couldn’t handle it, you wouldn’t have been chosen for the job. Have faith and keep working hard! As a cheerleader, you know how to encourage people and keep spirits high—as a captain, you can show others how to do the same.