“There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do – and I believe that.” – Derek Jeter
On Thursday September 25, 2014 – Derek Jeter played his final game at Yankee Stadium in New York. He ended his career the way we all imagined we would as kids, getting a game winning single to end his storybook career. If you are not a Yankee fan (which I generally am not), or a baseball fan (which I am) – you still should appreciate the virtues which Derek stood for. He played for one team his whole career. He played hard. He possesses that elusive “clutch” quality that athletes strive for. While I fervently believe that athletes are not role models (to paraphrase one of my favorite athletes), Derek Jeter could be a role model. He was never linked to steroids. He was never linked to drug use. He lived his private life as privately as possible. He won. A lot.
What can cheerleaders learn from Derek Jeter?
- He stayed with one team. In our modern gym and team jumping era (even high school cheerleaders have been “rumored” to change schools for cheerleading) it is exceptional that Derek Jeter stayed with one team for his whole career. Even though there were ups and downs, he stuck it out. He defined his career, rather than jumping from place to place. He made his team better, and is one of the greatest Yankees of all time.
- He played hard, even in practice. I’m sure that he took it easy from time to time, but I never saw it. In this entitled era which we live in, Derek Jeter represents the work ethic which made America great. This generation of athlete seems to sometimes believe that success should simply jump up and bite them like a radioactive spider. Hard work and success are generally equivalent.
- He is polite and generally understated. The social media, “look at me” athlete could learn a lot from Derek Jeter. Rather than beg to be a leader, Derek Jeter is simply a leader. You don’t have to get the biggest accolades to be the most important person. In many situations (cheerleading being no exception), the best or most important athletes are the ones who talk the least. They lead with confidence. They have no need to impress everyone by talking all the time, they just work hard.
- Derek Jeter is and was “clutch”. Unlike many athletes, when the going got tough, he got tougher. Many athletes have horrible statistics in “clutch” situations, Derek Jeter has at worst the same statistics in clutch situations as he does in any other situation. Many cheerleaders could stand to do more with technique and less with emotion. Emotions don’t make your skills, but technique can make you one of the all-time greats.
Are you a hardworking, polite, confident, clutch athlete? Derek Jeter is one of the greatest athletes ever. Not just for his skills, but for the kind of human that we was behind those skills. We can all learn a little bit from his example. He may not have intended to be a role-model, but he is a prototype for the All American athlete.
As athletes, you get 15-25 years in your life to be great. Be great, be polite, work hard, be confident, be “clutch”, and become the best athlete you can be in the time that you have.