When the pandemic hit in 2020, the world turned upside down. As a program, we had to embrace many changes. One of the largest shifts we made was with our practice schedule. We had been used to practicing with the whole team altogether, but based on information given by the leadership team at the time, we knew we had to gather in smaller numbers. Now, our jumpers are able to practice with their grade divisions at every practice and still receive the instruction of their older kids. Changing our routine schedule after 32 years was not easy, but it was necessary, and I am thankful to the leadership team who helped come up with this new plan. As we move further from Covid-19, we have decided to keep this schedule because it has allowed our jumpers to spend more time with their age group and consequently build better relationships with those their age.
A major schedule shift is just one way our program adjusted and grew from an abrupt change, but we also adopted a virtual program during the pandemic that turned out to be a huge success. As many people know, I don’t get along with social media, but I can’t deny the benefits of our virtual program. When the pandemic first hit, I had a parent call me and tell me that I had to take advantage of the virtual platform, Zoom. My response was that I wanted to “Zoom away from all things virtual” and that there was no way under the sun I would get into any part of the technology world. Now, I have great respect for Zoom because it allowed students who were unable to come in person to have the opportunity to jump and participate in the program. It also gave those leading the virtual program the chance to develop a unique skill set that will benefit them later in life as our world becomes more technologically advanced.
Finally, the third unique adjustment the program made during the Covid-19 Pandemic was the “Learning From the Bulldogs” announcements. During a time of isolation, I wanted to find a way to continue communication amongst everyone who was a part of the program. With the help of many alumni, “Learning From the Bulldogs” became our way of reaching out to families and keeping our mission alive even when we couldn’t be in the gym. This system consisted of regular posts sent out to our members that had blogs about what our core values and mission meant to our alumni when they were on the team and throughout their life after graduating. Parents and jumpers learned a lot about the program through the alumni and they were able to hear personal experiences and other inside stories about the program that they likely didn’t know before. Overall, these posts allowed us to reinforce the mission statement, share the powerful and meaningful stories of our alumni, and bring the Bulldog closer during a difficult time.
So, how do you channel change into something positive? Well, you just “Embrace Change” and “Rise Above” the difficult times because they will make you and your program stronger in the end!