Assignment – Case Study, The Vancouver Giants Cheer Team
For this assignment, you will write a reflection paper on the assigned case study from Northouse 8th edition.
Here is the guideline:
Read the case very carefully.
Use the three or four questions at the bottom (as a guide only) to write your paper.
Please do not just answer the questions. You are expected to add your reflection, thoughts, and opinions on the subject.
Do not copy (or cut and paste) the questions onto your paper. Marks will be deducted if you do that.
Minimum two pages, double-spaced.
It must be APA7. Make sure to use correct APA in-text citations for paraphrased ideas and quoted text.
Citations: Please cite page numbers if you are using quotes (remember that I want to see your understanding of the quote, not just the quote – use quotes minimally. Marks will be deducted for lack of citations (at least one citation per page).
References: You must use Northouse as your reference for this assignment.
Please check the due date in Moodle and upload this assignment to the appropriate Dropbox.
Vancouver Giants Cheer Team
In January 2020, Canada introduced the Vancouver Giants cheer team and its coach of 25 years, Jacqueline Nurse, as the Canadian Basketball League’s cheerleading champions. The team won the national championship in 2019, something they have not achieved in fifty years.
Professional cheerleading is an exceedingly dangerous and challenging sport. It includes stunts such as lifts, tumbling, towering pyramids, and basket tosses (where a “flyer” is thrown high in the air, does several twists and turns, and is caught in the arms of the “bases” below). According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR; Greenspan, 2020), the risk of catastrophic injury is second only to American football. This risk is apparent in the show as many team members have dropped, fell, or injured during their performances. Concussions, fractured ribs, ankle injuries, and twisted, swollen limbs are the norm. And this is just at team practices.
For the twenty cheerleaders, it’s all about “making mat”—securing one of the twelve spots on the team to compete at the national championships. For Coach Aldama, it is about creating and executing a two-minute, 15-second performance with breathtaking stunts that will result in the highest score possible to secure the team’s legacy.
Coach Nurse records all the practice sessions on her tablet, watching the videos repeatedly to determine if the choreography needs to be altered. She monitors how each cheerleader is performing. She also consults with her two assistant coaches, Jane Smith and Linda Fox, about changes to the routines, which athlete to push, and which to cut.
As a leader, Coach Nurse sets high expectations for her team regarding the members’ personal conduct, class attendance, and the effort and work they put into practice. She clearly articulates that accountability is her number-one criterion. When students don’t meet expectations, there are consequences. The whole team will be required to run laps if one student sloughs off class. Team members are often roommates, and Coach Nurse says that “whereas before they might walk out and go to class and let their roommates stay in bed, now they’re going to make sure that that person is up. And they do get mad if someone’s not there yet. When class is about to start, they’ll start texting them” (Zakin & Weisberg, 2020).
“Self-accountability is a big thing for me,” says Coach Nurse. Each person must take responsibility and show up for it. If it’s class, you show up for it. If it’s practice, you show up for it. If it’s a job, you show up for it. If you committed to doing it, you show up,” she says (Zakin & Weisberg, 2020).
Athlete T. T. Barker gets a painful lesson in this when he arrives at practice with a back injury from competing with another noncollegiate team after Coach Nurse advised her not to. Coach Nurse doesn’t cut T. T. any slack, and she continues to practice, repeatedly hoisting flyers overhead, wincing and grunting in pain until she finally drops to the mat, crying.
Coach Nurse, who has a bachelor’s degree in business management, says she first approached coaching the team from a business perspective. “I was like, okay, what’s the ultimate goal? To win?” she says. “I started from there and worked backwards (asking) what I need to do to win. And it was very black and white. ‘There’s a score sheet. I need to get a score. How am I going to get this score?’
“I started there, but then quickly realized, ‘Oh, there’s a whole another part of coaching that has nothing to do with the score sheet. And it’s these kids that are bickering, or they broke up with their boyfriend, or you know, okay, now I have to be a psychologist. I have to be an advisor. I have to be a counsellor. I have to be a mother” (Zakin & Weisberg, 2020).
Many team members come from difficult life circumstances, and a place on the team is a ticket out of trouble and hardship. One of those is Mia Croft, who lived with an older brother in a Coquitlam trailer after her biological parents abandoned them both at an early age. Mia has an unwavering drive to succeed and to please her coach.
“Not everyone in the world has a strong mother figure in their lives . . . Couch has filled the gap [that was] created by what I didn’t have. I didn’t have anyone to go prom shopping with or talk about my boyfriend. I think because of that, I am even more appreciative of her and what we share. I feel like her kid,” she says. “I idolize her. Coach Nurse has changed my life in so many ways and truly helped me become a better version of myself” (Bennett, 2020).
That devotion is evident in episode five of the show when Mia goes to the emergency room between practices for excruciating rib pain caused by “ribiosis,” what team members call the damage to flyers’ ribs caused by repeatedly falling from great heights into the arms of bases. At the emergency room, Mia refuses treatment because the muscle relaxers she’s prescribed would keep her from participating in that afternoon’s practice, and—despite a warning that more stress on her ribs could damage her organs or kill her—she leaves and returns to the gym. “If the coach says full-out, I’m going full-out,” she says (Whiteley, 2020).
Vancouver Giant is located in Vancouver, a beautiful city in British Columbia, Canada. Several female athletes on the team are gay, and despite her Christian faith, Coach Nurse says she “will fight tooth and nail to protect her girls.”
“I get upset when I see the world being so harsh and not understanding. I am not a very political person at all. I would say I’m smack in the middle: I’ve got some of the very conservative, some very liberal. I think everyone needs to be open to learning about different people’s lifestyles and not be so closed-minded,” she says (Silman, 2020).
Nurturing aside, Coach Nurse ultimately makes the tough decision of selecting the athletes who will “make mat” and, even if they are chosen for mat, replacing the athletes if they aren’t cutting it. She has also kicked key members off the team for rule infractions.
“I try to separate the coaching part and the nurturing part. Sometimes I’ll have to ‘mat-talk’ myself to separate the feelings of ‘I’m going to break this kid’s heart because I’m not going to put them on mat.’ I love this kid more than anything, and I know what they’ve overcome,” she says. “But you know that they don’t have the skills that this other person does, and that’s where it pulls at your heartstrings, and that’s where I have to be, like, ‘Come on, Mia, you can do this. It’s fine. Just separate it. Just separate it. Just separate it.’ And I do. I always try to circle back around still and make sure they know, ‘You’re still good, you’re still good enough. It’s just that you know right now it’s not your time” (Zakin & Weisberg, 2020).
When one team member didn’t make mat and was encouraged by her teammates to ask the coach why, she resisted, saying she thought it would be disrespectful to question her. When this team member finally did ask, she told her, “she was not putting herself out there.”
“I’m frank with my cheerleaders. I will let them know, pull them to the side and tell them, ‘I feel like maybe you don’t want it as bad as someone else or you don’t have that fight in you. Which makes me worried about are you going to have that fight when it’s go-time.’ I know I’m frank because how are they going to know?” (Zakin & Weisberg, 2020).
As a result, the team member put in twice the amount of effort and adjusted her contributions in practice and ultimately made mat.
Coach Nurse appears patient, calm, and composed, even in crisis. In the national competition, one of the team members, Simone Biles, was injured, and a replacement had to be made. The person replacing Simone had to learn her new role in mere minutes.
“When we were at finals and Simone got hurt, I was proud of myself because I literally went into focus mode. And although I was terrified, I couldn’t even go there because I was so focused on what we needed to do to fix it in a very short time span,” she says. “I definitely have always told myself no matter what I’m feeling inside, I can’t let the team know. Because cheerleading is a very mental game. We can do all this work preparing mentally, but if they see me looking terrified or scared or losing it, all that work we’ve done could go down the drain” (Silman, 2020).
“I’m very competitive and I want to be successful, but I also want to be that person that leads by example. I really set a high standard for myself,” Coach Nurse says (Church, 2020).
Questions to Think About
How would you describe Coach Nurse’s leadership behavior in terms of initiating structure and consideration? Is she more task oriented or relationship oriented?
Where on the Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid would you place Coach Nurse? Defend your answer.
How would you describe Coach Nurse’s leadership behavior in terms of paternalism/maternalism?
Do you think the leadership behavior of opportunism could apply to Coach Nurse? Explain your answer.