Love Tough Coaching

I’ve been judged and criticized as a coach more than I could ever appreciate. I’ve been questioned, misunderstood and had my work diminished way too many times. It’s been said I’m too strict, have delusional standards, insane expectations, and no compassion. Which might be true? But ask me if I care.

I used to! I used to care about it a lot. I let others mess with my head, creating doubts and lowering my self-esteem. I lost respect of my abilities, my coaching. I lost respect of myself. I was worrying so much about opinions and trying to please others that I let it change my values and beliefs, which changed who I was. I changed so much that I started to hate the only true passion in my life to a point of quitting. I quite cheerleading. I was done!

As you may have noticed, I turned it around 🙂 After taking a short break, I got back into it. And today, my answer to all the haters, doubters and non-believers is “I DON’T CARE”.

I don’t argue with people about my coaching style. I don’t try to explain or justify it. I know who I am and I know how I coach. I also know why. As an athlete I had the pleasure of working with many coaches of different calibers. The ones that I respect the most and owe them lifelong debts of gratitude are the ones that were the toughest on me. I have them to thank for my continuous and never-ending strive for more. Their transformational coaching approaches inspired and shaped the transformational coach I aspire to be.

Joe Ehrmann, the author of InSideOut Coaching distinguishes between two types of coaches. Transactional and Transformational. Transactional coaches see athletes and teams as business transactions. The measure of their own success is the number of transactions they make and their figures. Transformational coaches, on the other hand, view each athlete as a diamond in the rough. An opportunity to transform, add value to athletes’ life and help them become the best version of themselves. Transformational coaches go beyond numbers, physical abilities and skills, they care about people and invest in their personal development, and so do I.

Because I expect more from my athletes, I challenge them to do more. Because I care more about their character, I don’t allow them to settle for less.  Because I push the limits, I expand their capabilities beyond imaginable. I practice love tough, not tough love. Like one of my favorite motivational speakers and authors Jon Gordon, I too believe love has to come first. I don’t care for my athletes while remaining unsympathetic and strict. I am tough and aggro, because I love them and care about their future. 

With that being said, if you are my athlete (or their parent) and I’m not tough on you (your kid), I would be worried 🙂 




Different Life – Different Ways

“Different Life – Different GOALS” was going to be the original title of this post, BUT I don’t feel like I can honestly discuss my goals at the moment. I cannot say that my life has drastically changed in the past 2 months, because its still all about cheerleading. However it has changed tremendously.

Aunty Sara with nieces Maddie & Dani  

I’ve been a competitive gymnast , cheerleader & acrobat for over 20 years now, so my goals were always I would say “gold oriented”. My BIG goals were focused on doing the best at most prestigious competitions (#winning) and choosing/making the right teams that will make this possible for me. SMALLER goals were learning new skills or improving old ones in order to , one make the teams I wanted, and two be a strong asset on those teams, and not the weakest link. Along with that of course came fitness and wellness goals that kept my body and mind in the best possible physical and mental shape.   

I always had other goals not related to sports as well, such as school, then work, relationships, family, just being a normal human being 🙂  but to be completely honest…these always came second to being THE ATHETE. 

I can proudly say that I accomplished most of my goals. Some huge ones, some tiny ones, but each and every one of them give me chills and make me excited every time I think of them. They also remind me that no matter how much I planned and believed in certain ways to reach those goals, things never happened according to my plan. Flexibility, ability to accept, adjust and compromise, staying determined and 100% dedicated, with a true passion for those goals at the end kept me on a not expected track,  but THE TRACK to get them checked off my list. 

Our final decision to move to Reno was the last dot in my cheerleading career as an athlete, or at least that’s how it seems. Yes, it’s a bit bitter-sweet, but it’s mostly sweet with a dash of bitter. By accomplishing so much in my athletic career I now feel ready to explore something new and excel on a different level.   

And here I am, writing this post while living different life. I’m on a quest finding new ways, new challenges as exciting as my athletic ones were, so I can set myself new goals. 

I can’t even imagine where Reno life is going to take me, but ways that excite me right now:

  1. Learning new position at Five Star Athletics & helping to improve their (our!) programs
  2. Developing flying program that could help anyone become an amazing flyer
  3. Working on my cirque skills 🙂 somehow I find pleasure in torturing myself with high intensity stretching, and practicing new passion I developed sort of recently, which is hand balancing.
  4.  Living a family-centered life again.
  5. Learning how to be the best support on Kenny’s new journey as a Realtor.  


Five Star Gang -The Eddy 
New Challenges – Hand Balancing
Working with my Fly-Hunnies

Choke or Triumph?

It happens more often to some than others, however we’ve all faced and will face a high-pressure situation at some point of our lives. Either we create that pressure ourselves in our heads, or others watching, testing, monitoring, maybe judging raise that pressure for us. It might be school, work, sport, even health related.  When such situation presents itself we might choke, blow up our chance of success, or we manage ourselves appropriately and triumph.

It got me wondering why is that, when one of my young athletes was in a pressured situation yesterday. Athletes learning new skills is a big deal in our gym and we like to share it with everyone. When an athlete gets a new skill, they have a privilege to “ring-a-bell”. The whole gym stops what they are doing and we all watch that one athlete perform their new skill. We all cheer them on and celebrate, congratulate them after. The video is taken and posted on our social media for everyone else to see.  Like I said RINGING THE BELL is a HUGE DEAL!

It’s definitely a very exciting moment for athletes. Everyone WANTS to ring that bell. But after the bell is rang, the pressure is on, all eyes are watching, and expectations are high. Instantly an exciting situations turns into a high-pressured one. What happens next its hard to predict. Will the bell-ringer choke and fail under pressure, or show off new skill and triumph?

When, one of my nine-year old athletes rang the bell yesterday and couldn’t perform her new tumbling pass in front of everyone watching, even though she did it in class multiple times, I started to wonder why is that so. Why do we choke? Why only sometimes? And, how do we avoid it?

The answer is US!