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East County Thursday, May. 7, 2009 8 years ago

STANGS: Lakewood cheers for returning coach

by: Karlin Reed

In high school cheerleading, the most critical part of the squad isn’t the captain or the strongest base.
The individual who influences a squad’s ability and drive the most is the coach.

Macie French knows this first-hand. She was a cheerleading coach for eight years and then decided to leave coaching for a while.

At Lakewood, French is a popular math teacher, but many students don’t know about her cheerleading background.

“I was a cheerleader at Southeast all through high school,” French said. “And years later, when I was asked to start coaching there, I was thrilled.”

French began coaching at Southeast where she spent five years transforming the squad. Her squads competed and always came home with several trophies. In 2000, she moved to teach at Lakewood, and her impressive record as the Seminole cheerleading coach earned her a position as the Mustangs varsity cheerleading coach.

“I was apprehensive about the move at first,” French said.

At first, coaching was as rewarding as it had always been for French. But in 2003, a more stressful group of girls and a busy schedule made coaching more of an obligation.

“It was just too much.” French said. “I had two young kids at home, was teaching and had a stressful squad. I just wasn’t able to dedicate myself as much as I needed to for the squad to be successful the next year.”

After the class of 2003 graduated, French decided to stop coaching. That year, Melissa Koehlinger took over as varsity coach, and French was able to focus on work and her family.

But this year, Koehlinger was in desperate need for someone to fill the junior varsity coach position. The first person that she wanted to ask was, of course, French.

“I knew she would put up a fight,” Koehlinger said. “She does have a busy schedule, but junior varsity coaching has less stress than the varsity position and I hoped that would persuade her.”

French’s love of cheerleading (and many episodes of begging from Koehlinger) finally convinced her to coach the junior varsity cheerleaders for the 2009-2010 school year.

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