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Fundraising is a challenge all gyms face, but done right, it can be an exciting, memorable experience for everyone involved. For inspiration, we’re interviewing gym owners who’ve found ways to put the “fun” in fundraising. Case in point: Mansfield, OH-based Spirit Ohio All Stars, which runs a Sponsor My Uniform fundraiser. Gym owner Steve Fuller spoke with us about why he thinks it’s something every gym should do.
If what happened in Vegas actually stayed in Vegas, then Greenville, South Carolina’s Rockstar Cheer and Dance might not be where it is today. After all, it was a 2007 visit to Sin City—specifically the Hard Rock Hotel—that inspired owner Scott Foster and his wife, Kathy, to pick a unique theme for their gym that was “different and out of the box,” says Foster.
Out of the jukebox is more like it. Every team at all seven Rockstar gym locations is named after a rock band, and Foster doesn’t discriminate one genre over others. There are teams named for classic bands, like the Small Senior Level 5 Queen and the Large Junior Level 3 Heartbreakers. Then there’s The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Journey, Nirvana, Poison, No Doubt and the Dixie Chicks. Plus, there’s a team called The Wiggles and a few nods to the 80’s, including Vanilla Ice.
Talk about balance—Alicia Zito isn’t just 2015’s Eastern Cheer & Dance Association’s “Cheer Coach of the Year,” but also a choreographer, judge, mom and a full-time attorney. When not practicing law, Zito runs the Reading, PA-based gym Rebels Elite, which currently has just over 90 athletes. CheerProfessional caught up with Zito between the court and the competition mat for a candid Q&A session.
After months of practice, “Heather” had mastered every skill in her routine and her timing was perfect. But once she hit the mat during competition, her face went blank and she froze mid-step. Although she’d been involved with cheer from the age of five, she still experienced periodic bouts of performance anxiety, especially at key moments.
Heather isn’t alone—the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about eight percent of teens age 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder. In many cases, a certain amount of anxiety can be beneficial, providing an effective way to handle a difficult situation. But excessive anxiety can, in certain circumstances, become disabling, and for cheer teams, too much anxiety could spell serious trouble.
It’s every gym owner’s nightmare: put your trust in team moms, and then see that trust betrayed in a big way. Few know that better than the Ohio Pink Panthers, who made headlines in 2014 when a team mom allegedly collected $310 per cheerleader for new uniforms, then disappeared with $6,500 of gym parents’ money. More common are less extreme cases, which are often a matter of team moms being too opinionated or overstepping their boundaries—leading to drama, miscommunication and often one big headache for the gym staff.
Luckily, not all experiences with team moms turn out to be so devastating. In many cases, team moms become a coach’s right hand and trusted confidante. So what makes the difference? Choosing the right people.
“If you’re not prepared to put TEAM first, turn around.”
dworldfrontThis is the motto of ICE All-Stars, and a slogan that hangs on a banner in the windows of all three of Darlene Fanning’s Illinois- and Indiana-based gym locations. It’s a mentality that’s gotten the ICE program founder far since launching her first location in 1996. “Next year will be our 20th anniversary,” says Fanning, who got her start as a high school coach before making the transition to the all-star world.d
At Midwest Cheer Elite’s Lima, Ohio location, a cheer dad approaches a wall covered in Post-Its and takes one that says “Band-Aids.” When he goes to the store later that day, he’s not just buying the gym something they need, he’s earning an entry into Midwest Cheer Elite’s contest for a month of free tuition. Many gyms use contests like this one to engage athletes and their families and generate excitement—and, more often than not, it works.
It’s the health trend du jour—everyone seems to be talking about bone broth. And if it’s not on the radar of your athletes and staff yet, maybe it should be. Advocates rave about the drink’s healing properties, and high-profile athletes like Kobe Bryant swear by it. But does bone broth live up to the hype?
Prior to taking the floor for a 2010 competition, former Shine Athletics owner Sydney McBride wrangled her team into the warm-up room where they did a quick final run-through of their routine. Everything was right on schedule, until an unexpected accident occurred. One of McBride’s girls tumbled to the floor, landing on her arm and suffering an open break. The injured all-star cheerleader was scared, in pain and lying on the floor—unable to lift her limb. Someone dialed 911, but it took a full 15 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
“In those types of situations, when an athlete is in pain, 15 minutes can feel like an hour,” says McBride. “The venue was in a remote area, and there were no medical personnel on site. We just had to sit there with her and wait!”
Fundraising is a challenge all gyms face, but done right, it can be an exciting, memorable experience for everyone involved. For inspiration, we’re interviewing gym owners who’ve found ways to put the “fun” in fundraising. Meet Josh Filiault, owner of Troy, AL-based Xtreme Athletics. For the past four years, Filiault and his team have organized a highly successful zombie-themed 5K run, raising as much as $25,000.