Nancy De Avila, Lake Orion High School
I am married to Bob and have two daughters, Nicole, who is my long-time right-hand in coaching and Sasha, who is our biggest cheer fan and collaborator. I have lived in Lake Orion for the better part of 40 years. I am a Lake Orion High School graduate and attended the University of Michigan and Oakland University. I am the financial administrator for our family companies, Electro Diamond Tools and Superior Abrasive Products, also in Lake Orion. I am a sports fanatic and avid golfer as well.
I got into coaching after meeting the previous Lake Orion coach, Kelli Matthes when Niki became involved in the youth cheer program. I would attend the practices nearly every day and Kelli and I became friends. In 1996, she was looking for a JV coach for Lake Orion and asked if I would be interested. At that point, I had no coaching experience whatsoever, but Kellie assured me that all I needed was my love of sport and enthusiasm for working with the kids and she would teach me the rest. I jumped in head first and have been hooked ever since. In 2002 I left the job as the JV coach and assumed the position as varsity assistant coach, then took over the head coaching position in 2003.
My favorite part of coaching would definitely be program development. I believe in giving kids as many opportunities to participate as I possibly can. When I first began coaching our program was strong, but relatively small; we have grown to be among Michigan's largest programs. I am very proud of the fact that our community and our student athletes have so much pride and investment in being a Dragon. From our smallest youth program cheerleaders to our seniors and my coaching staff, we have developed a unique sense of what it means to be a part of this school community and this athletic department. I believe my athletes and coaches alike understand my passion for this program and I work with the entire program to ensure that the kids begin and end their careers as Dragon cheerleaders with the same passion.
In coaching I have had the opportunity to work with my daughter, Nicole for many years now. Nicole has also coached in our middle school program, and works with many of Michigan's finest cheerleaders throughout the summer. She's an amazing young woman. So, to have stood in front of her as a coach when she took the floor as a high school cheerleader and to stand beside her as partner in coaching has created so many wonderful and special moments. Having to choose one would be hard, but I think my favorite moment in competitive cheer happened just this past winter as our team performed Round Three at the Finals. To be so proud of my athletes, and so proud of my daughter in the very same moments was almost overwhelming. I'll never forget the pure joy on all their faces on all of their faces as they competed and coached for each other and for the love they have for our sport. It was magical!
The number one tip I would give to new coaches and old coaches alike would be to never stop learning. And when I say learning, I mean that in an all-encompassing way. Seek out education in any way you can - conferences, coaches camps, mentoring programs to improve your skills and knowledge in and of our sport. More importantly, never stop learning about your kids, your coaches, and your peers. None of our athletes will go on to become professional cheerleaders so there has to be a reason for kids to commit so much time and effort in our sport other than preparation for the future. The development of long lasting, personal relationships with these amazing young athletes and even more amazing women involved in our sport is there for the taking. If you invest yourself into learning more about everyone who touches your life in cheer, your life will be blessed and enriched beyond measure!