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Safe Haven

By: Nicholas Sparks

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moving On

For the past three years, I coached the Quincy Notre Dame Pom Pon Squad...the squad I was a member of for four years in high school. Going back to my alma matter was a great journey and a decision I am glad I made. When I first accepted the position, I had just come from coaching the dance team at Culver-Stockton College (another dance team I was a member of!) and was assigned the position with Ashleigh Douglas (now Wisslead). I knew right away that Ashleigh and I would do a great job, but I didn't know how much of a friendship I would acquire from her (see previous post!). The first year coaching was for sure a learning experience. Ashleigh and I had both come from a great squad...a history of being state champions, long lasting friendships, a great coach, gerat respect for each other, and so on and so on. Ashleigh and I had really high expectations for the squad and wanted it to be a year they would remember. The previous year, the squad did not make it to state. That was the first time in over 10 years Quincy Notre Dame Pom was not at the State competition. Our main goal was to get the girls to state. Well, that journey was of course not an easy one, but we know God did not give us anything he did not think we could handle. All of the situations he put before us made us stronger women, better role models, and deepened our faith. I never IMAGINED some of the obstacles we encountered, but we persevered and got the squad to state....PLACING 4th and msising 3rd by .1!!!!! We were very pleased with our first year as coaches of the squad.

So, the second year...I was on my own. Ashleigh took a job in a different city :( I had learned a lot from that first year of coaching a high school squad and was feeling very confident about going into the second year. The year went pretty smoothly, with a few bumps in the road here and there. We ended up with a small amount of girls then we started with, but we made it work! We made it to state once again, however, did not place very well. We took two routines to State...competiting in Pom and in Dance. The feeling of hearing them announce at Super Sectionals that we qualified our dance routine was out of this world! Dance had some PHENOMINAL teams!! We were definately out of league, but it would prepare us for the future. Pom, I do believe, we got shunned on. The team that won deserved it by all means!!! They rocked it out, no pun intended since their theme was 'rock and roll'. I do though, in my honest heart, believe we should've placed at least 5th! I feel I bonded with the girls on this squad more than I had the previous one, soley because a majority of these girls I had been with for two years. At the end of this year, I knew for sure I would be coaching another year, but did not know yet if I would continue on after. I would be getting married and that set up a whole new chapter in my life!!

So, that brings us to the third year of my coaching experience at Quincy Notre Dame. I had a super group of girls!! A very talented, hard working group. We killed it at camp! Camp is always a great time, but I saw this squad grow so much and get so close and learn so much! I knew this was going to be a challenging year for me as I was getting married in September. I had a group of Alumni pommers help out the week of my wedding and the week after while I was on my honeymoon. During that time, we had the annual fundraiser where we host an after school camp for gradeschool girls and then they perform that night at the football game. Because of the awesome parents I had and the support of the alumni pommers, everything went smoothley! We started working on competition and had a great theme for pom. We decided to continue on with our dance journey, ordered costumes and picked out a song. When we started teaching the squad the competitiong routine, it was obvious that our strong suit would be pom, and we decided to forgo entering our dance routine. In January, I made the decision that I would not continue the next year as the pom coach. I had gotten in to Physical Therapy Assistant school, which was a goal of mine to do after Matt and I got married. It was a VERY hard decision. I listed out the pros and the cons, and talked to Ashleigh about it, and it just made sense to step down. WIth it being my last year, I wanted to do well more than ever before!! At our very first regional we received 2nd place, beating the current state champs. As the regionals went on, I felt like we kept getting screwed (sorry). We qualified the routine for state and the girls did a great job, however-the judges saw something in other routines that they did not see in ours. I was heartbroken. I wanted this squad to place well at State...even come home with a 1st place finish!! We just couldn't do it. It was very hard. I felt like as a coach I had let my squad down, my one senior, the upperclassmen who choreographed the routine, the past pommers. Ugh! Hopefully, the girls will come back strong next year!!!

I'm not going to lie........there are times I miss it. When I see photos of the girls from camp and know what a great experience that can be. When I hear the girls talk about how excited they are for the upcoming season. When I hear a song on the radio or see a routine and think (OH that's a great idea.....oh wait lol). There is a QND Football game tonight and I am going. This will be the first time I attend a QND football game as just a fan. Not as a member of the pom pon squad, not as a clinical athletic training student on the side line, not as a coach..........a fan, an alumni of the school, and an alumni pommer. Just Laura :)

SO, as I look back on my three years of coaching, I hope the girls:

Looked at me as a good Christian Role Model.

Learned to treat others with respect.

Saw how much the alumni pom pon squad members support them and that they always will.

Learned time management.

How to succeed even when you think you have failed.

Know they can always come to me, any time/any place/with any issue!

Know that everything I did, was in the best interest of the squad and them as individuals!

I wish the two new coaches (Alumni pommers of the squad as well...WAHOO!!!) the best of luck!!! I sure learned a lot! I've been in your shoes, and if you ever need advice on anything...I'm here for you!! In the good times and the bad!!

To the current and future members of the squad.........treat each other, your coaches, and your parents with respect! Don't talk bad about each other, don't criticize each other. Pray together, learn together, succeed together! CHEERIOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once a QND Pommer.....Always a QND POMMER!

Pommers: What is your favorite memory?

General Readers: What do you think?

Comments are open to all!!


  1. So I am pretty sure that my favorite memory is when we were coming back from state my senior year and everyone was sooo quite because we hadn't done as well as we would have liked.
    But then we realized that we had done our best and that there wasn't anything we could do. We started dancing around the short bus and have an awesome time! Even though I'm pretty sure we were all extremely exhausted! Even Laura joined in, in singing some songs! We had a great time coming home from state even though we didn't place like we wanted to! But we kicked butt!!
    I loved being a Pommer!
    So many more memories to choose from!

  2. 1. you just made me miss pom more than you can ever imagine!
    2. I have so many amazing memories from pom I don't know how to choose, but here's a few.

    Freshman year being a test dummie at UDA camp in flexibility demo. The instructor was so confused why I was in a flexibility seminar if I was already flexible!

    Junior year riding back from camp with the seniors and Ashleigh and Laura. Ashleigh playing with the seat moving thing to Hansen and Laura almost falling asleep while driving... so we stopped and got monsters then continued! (ps fitting the whole squad and 2 coaches in a Tahoe?)

    Performing a solo and getting 1st :)
    BEING A RISING STAR!!! has anyone else from ND gotten it yet???
    and soooo much more!

  3. did u mean favorite memories? or self-accomplishments? haha just saying
    = )

  4. Kaitlin: You are the one and only so far!!

    Anonymous-whatever you would like!


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