Want a cloud-based gym management solution? You should know Jack. Used by gyms like East Coast Nitros, All Star Legacy and Cheer Force One, Jackrabbit provides a web-based way to easily manage registrations, as well as automate payment and other processes. The program can also collect other types of data and connect to other programs like QuickBooks and Payroll Express Plus. Pricing plans range from $45/month (for up to 100 students) up to $245/month (for up to 3000 students); a free trial is available.
Many cheer professionals have been asking for an update about the GrowCheer.org proposal and whether the USASF has responded. The companies affiliated with GrowCheer.org have sent us the following update to share with the community: GrowCheer.org would like to thank all of those in our industry that have voiced their support for our efforts, both publicly more »
Whether an athlete wants a leg up on the competition or extra tumbling training to perfect that standing back tuck, many do double-duty on both high school cheer squads and as all-star gym athletes. Having kids involved in both is a balancing act—one that gym owners deal with all season long. It’s a process that involves patience, communication and one heckuva big calendar. In many cases, the key is careful cooperation with high school cheer coaches.
In our “Owner’s Manual” column, we ask gym owners to take us “under the hood” and give us their secrets to what keeps their gyms running so smoothly. Find out how Darlene Fanning finds her balance by keeping high schools happy.
In the cheer world, it comes down to knowing the score. With a variety of complex scoring systems in competitions, it can be a challenge making sense of it all. Here are some things you need to know about how some of the major players in the business add it all up. Many companies and event producers use Varsity’s All Star Scoring system, which was introduced three seasons ago. Its scoresheet is primarily composed of four main categories….
Avon, Ohio’s Tumbles & Cheers is on a roll: after being named the USASF’s “Best Small Gym in America” in 2010, the gym recently moved to a brand-new 14,000 sq. ft. facility—replete with inground rod floor, tumble trak, trampoline and 1,300 sq. ft. worth of pits. What’s been their secret to success? According to Heather Zidek, the gym’s founder and coach of the Ohio Extreme All-Stars, it’s all about keeping your gym drama-free and setting high expectations.
Buying an existing gym can be a smart proposition in many ways—ranging from built-in clientele to existing facility and equipment. However, it’s important for both seller and owner to do due diligence beforehand to make sure it doesn’t devolve into a sour deal or ongoing game of “He said, she said.”
Take for example the real-life case of George Strauss*, whose dream of buying his own gym quickly turned into a nightmare for both him and cheer professional Sherry Jones*. Less than a year ago, the two made arrangements for Strauss to buy Jones’ Midwest-based gym—today, each person has a distinctly different account of why that now-defunct deal imploded.
Mo’ meat, mo’ problems? That’s the premise of documentaries like Forks Over Knives, which explore the theory that animal-based and processed foods lead to degenerative disease and other health issues. The popularity of such films—coupled with a mass movement toward healthier eating—points to an overall trend: plant-based diets are hot. A 2012 Vegetarian Resource Group survey found that 7.3 million Americans are vegetarian, while 22.8 million others follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.
At Cheer Factor in Foxboro, Mass., specialty clinics are for athletes at the “top” of their game—literally. Inspired by a similar program at USA Gymnastics, Cheer Factor’s new “T.O.P. (Talent Opportunity Program)” has been a huge hit with athletes from its three locations, as well as area schools. Geared at Level 5 athletes (or those approaching Level 5 status), the T.O.P. clinic has become a coveted invite-only event. “Not only did it serve as a motivational tool and a great way to get all of our kids from different locations together, but it was also a way to start building our Level 5 program for next year,” shares Heather Kalnicki, head tumbling instructor.
Anyone who encounters Cheer Extreme All-Stars’ Courtney Smith-Pope need not wonder where she gets her effervescent passion for the sport—after all, it’s all in the family. Her mom and co-founder, Betsy, acts as the financial and admin guru for all 9 CEA locations around North Carolina, while her sister, Kelly, oversees its Raleigh and Greenville locations. She first met her husband of 10 years, Ben Pope, back when he owned a Premier Athletics gym in Asheville—today he runs CEA’s Winston-Salem location and coaches tumbling and stunting, while their two daughters cheer at the Kernersville location (which Smith-Pope calls “the mothership” of the operation).
Yesterday’s announcement about GrowCheer.org and the push for an independent USASF sparked a range of reactions throughout the industry. While USASF has declined to comment on the matter, we were able to speak with Varsity’s VP of Public Relations Sheila Noone to learn their company’s stance. “Everything Varsity does is with an eye towards what is best for the young athletes we serve,” says Noone. “No one has more of an interest in growing all disciplines of cheerleading than Varsity, and we feel we have been a strong partner to the USASF and its members.” Read what Noone and a sampling of gym owners around the industry had to say in our exclusive round-up.
CheerProfessional has learned that seven industry companies (Cheer Zone, GK Elite, GTM Sportswear, Motionwear, Nfinity, Rebel Athletic & Team Cheer) have united in an effort to facilitate the USASF’s independence from Varsity Brands. Read their full proposal for GrowCheer.ORG here, exclusive to CheerProfessional!
You’re a passionate cheer professional. You work hard to train your athletes and place each one on the best team for his or her ability and the team’s needs. It’s natural to assume everyone will recognize your expertise and respect your decisions.
Unfortunately, there’s always someone who doesn’t see it that way. That someone is usually a parent who seems to want more spotlight shining on their little Ashley. Or perhaps they just don’t understand how progression through the skill levels works. Either way, a parent is second-guessing your decisions.
It’s a lot like the proverbial tree falling in the woods: if a cheer gym doesn’t have a website, is anyone going to hear its marketing message? Not in today’s digital world, according to Jason Silverman of AllStarCheerSites.com. He says that having a dynamic online presence is just as pivotal as having a physical gym—and most potential clients and athletes are going to find your virtual doors before they step through your real ones.
CheerProfessional tapped four of the industry’s cheer leaders for a spirited panel discussion on our industry and its future: Dan Kessler of the Jam Brands; John Newby of Varsity; Pam Puckett of The Cheer Center in Grove City, OH; and Karlette Fettig of Indiana Elite All-Stars in Noblesville, IN. Read part 2 of our juicy Q&A!
CheerProfessional tapped four of the industry’s cheer leaders for a spirited panel discussion on our industry and its future: Dan Kessler of the Jam Brands; John Newby of Varsity; Pam Puckett of The Cheer Center in Grove City, OH; and Karlette Fettig of Indiana Elite All-Stars in Noblesville, IN. Read part 1 of our juicy Q&A!
Though it’s one of the most successful and well-known gyms in the nation, Freehold, NJ-based World Cup All-Stars hasn’t been immune to facing a lawsuit. “You never know who is going to come back and sue you,” says co-owner Joelle Antico. “You have to run your gym like a business; this isn’t an extracurricular activity. If owners don’t have insurance, anyone can come after us personally.” World Cup is just one of many programs facing a growing reality: cheer professionals are at risk for a wide range of lawsuits—ranging from copyright to injuries to harassment.
When people think of competitive cheerleading, Wisconsin usually isn’t the first place that comes to mind. Cherokee Greendeer was just 19 years old when she set out to start a cheer gym there in 1999, but she knew she was taking a risk. “I had to be direct; I had to sell the sport, to make everyone see that this is definitely legitimate,” says Greendeer. “Parents thought, ‘Rah rah rah, that’s all our daughter will do,’ but once they saw what it was really about, they said, ‘Wow, this is what our daughter can do?!’”
Take two deep breaths and call us in the morning? Not quite that simple—but we’ve unearthed a few smart ideas on how to stamp out stress. Whether you thrive in go-go-go mode or are feeling the burn of burnout, whether your gym is miniscule or massive, it’s imperative to cope properly and decompress—even if you have to “schedule” time to do it. To find out how to turn a breaking point into a turning point, we turned to several busy cheer professionals and expert Zohar Adner for their hard-earned advice on achieving balance.
Last October, many in the cheer world were left reeling when former Vancouver All-Stars cheerleader Amanda Todd committed suicide as a result of bullying. (“Rest in peace and fly high,” many wrote on their Twitter feeds.) For years, Todd had been the target of widespread bullying—both online and offline—after a stranger tricked her into taking a shirtless photo, then ruthlessly spread that picture around the Internet. A YouTube video the 15-year-old made a month before her death told the story of her anguish via handwritten notes; one of the notes read, “I have nobody. I need someone.”
Pacing back and forth on top of purple tumbling mats in front of a rapt audience of All Star Gym Association members, Tate Chalk encourages the coaches and gym owners in attendance to make their voices heard. Wearing a black button-down shirt and stylized jeans, he talks about how to rise above fear of failure and innovate. Suddenly, he goads the crowd to yell, “Money is good!” Understandably, they need a little encouragement.
To limit the distraction of having a cheerlebrity teammate, Twist & Shout’s Orson Sykes sets strict rules during competitions for cheerlebrities regarding what’s expected of them, even when it once meant having a sit-down discussion with Whitney Love about strolling around too much at Worlds. (The cheerlebrity quickly isolated herself and went on to give more »
Under Pressure Speaking of Justin Bieber, in many cases, social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram have made (or at least aided) the careers of certain cheerlebrities. Gardner has more than 15,000 Twitter followers and Rule more than 16,000, while Nowlin has no less than three fake impersonators. But, Sykes emphasizes, with great more »
A pro cheerlebrity is hard to miss. She’s usually female, a flyer, slicing through the air during a basket toss—makeup bright, smile broad. Perhaps she’s signing autographs before competition or wowing judges on the floor with a superior tumbling pass. Maybe she has an agent in hopes of getting recruited by a college and scoring a scholarship. She might have even signed an exclusive contract with a magazine or landed a deal to sell a specific brand of shoes.
As our industry evolves and shifts, Eric Little stays right in step. With more than 750 national titles and 62 Worlds medals under his belt, Eric Little has cemented himself as one of the industry’s premier choreographers—earning him the USASF’s first-ever “Choreographer of the Year” honor in 2011. Along with all-star programs, Little works with an array of collegiate, NFL and NBA cheer and dance teams, a natural progression for this one-time Riverside Community College and Long Beach State University cheerleader.
As the industry—and our nation—tries to get back in the holiday spirit after last week’s tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., a cheerleader named Janie Pascoe is doing her best to restore hope. After being named Athlete of the Year at America’s Best National Championships, Janie requested to donate her $500 scholarship prize to the Newtown Memorial Fund for the victims’ families rather than using it toward her Indiana University education.
Much like a double full or a scorpion, happiness is a learned skill—and good things come to those who practice. If you’re looking to lead a happier life, it’s crucial to learn the right skills and put them into practice. So how do you get from point A to point Be-happy? Here are a few clues.
Meet Trisha Hart, now in her 10th year as co-owner of All-Star Legacy (a decorated cheer gym with three locations in Virginia and West Virginia), coach for the program’s Mini Level One and Youth Level Two teams, and cheer consultant/choreographer. We snagged this busy cheer professional for a candid Q&A—read what she had to say in response to our burning questions.
Insurance is an investment most cheer gym owners can’t afford not to make. Just like locking the front door and screening your employees properly, knowing how to properly protect your business liability-wise is of utmost importance—otherwise, you could be leaving your program vulnerable to devastating financial loss. See if you subscribe to any of these common insurance myths and learn the realities below:
He’s dedicated. He’s athletic. He’s experienced. Cheerleaders respect him and parents like him. That male coach on your staff is a major contributor to your gym’s success. But could he also be a major risk? Find out how to make sure male coaches are an asset, not a liability.
From the moment Steve Wedge got his first taste of competitive glory as an Ohio State University cheerleader, he was hooked. It was during Wedge’s first year of cheering that the squad brought home the title from UCA’s Ford Collegiate Cheerleading National Championships in Honolulu—and he hasn’t looked back since. CheerProfessional caught up with this busy cheer mogul for an in-depth Q&A.
When Jessica Smith first started her Danville, KY-based gym, Southern Cheer Elite, she stacked her shelves with all the business books she could get her hands on. But the primers didn’t prep Smith with the intel necessary for success—either the information wasn’t industry-specific enough or didn’t have practical applications for her own business. One thing was clear: Smith was going to have to find her own way to make it as a small gym owner.
While teaching a profitability seminar at the 2012 Worlds, ACX owner Randy Dickey made a startling discovery. “Out of 160 gym owners, not one raised their hand when I asked this question: how many of you know your hourly expenses for running your company?” remembers Dickey, who also leads the All-Star Gym Association.
When in doubt, diversify, diversify, diversify. For CheerGyms.com owner Morton Bergue, all-star cheerleading is just one part of a bigger puzzle, as it comprises one-fifth of overall business. To maximize profitability, Bergue and his team regularly host classes and stunt/jump clinics for novices and school squads, and space is rented out during non-peak hours for everything from birthday parties to Tae Kwon Do classes. The move isn’t just a smart business strategy, but a necessary one.
On the surface, Stingrays duo Casey Jones and Roger Schonder may come off like polar opposites, but one commonality shines—for both of them, all roads lead back to cheer. Jones began his career cheering at Georgia Southern University, then cut his teeth at Pro Cheer before purchasing American Cheer Academy from Tate Chalk in 1998. more »
In our “Owner’s Manual” column, we ask gym owners to take us “under the hood” and give us their secrets to what keeps their gyms running so smoothly. Find out what gets Burke’s Tumbling Academy owner Jennifer Burke in gear in our exclusive article.
Whether you’ve just opened your doors or have been in business for decades, one of your primary business concerns is probably attracting new students. Traditional marketing strategies like radio, television, or billboard advertisements can certainly be effective—but they’re also expensive and not guaranteed to get results. Luckily, there are better, more affordable ways to advertise your gym and bring in new business.
On Friday, people across Canada are gathering in memory of Vancouver All-Stars cheerleader Amanda Todd, who took her own life last week after being the victim of online stalking and cyber-bullying for several years. (Before her death, she made this YouTube video to tell her story—warning: video includes graphic images.) These vigils speak not only more »
Mixing business and pleasure is certainly standard practice in the all-star industry—many gym co-owners are married, and plenty of coaches end up dating after spending so much time in close quarters. But can keeping things all business affect the relationship once you get home from work? “People usually take their business home because it’s useful to more »
With the many demands of coaching and running a gym, finding time for your own workouts can often pose a challenge. (Understatement.) Fortunately, the rules of exercise have changed, and “workouts on the go” have become increasingly common. With the right approach, you can get an effective workout in just minutes a day, wherever you more »
As the all-star cheerleading industry has blossomed, an array of organizations has also sprung onto the cheer scene—resulting in a virtual alphabet soup of acronyms from ASGA to NCSSE to USASF. Learn more about each group and how to decipher your options as a cheer professional with this handy-dandy slide show!
Coaches gone candid—it’s Q&A time! We asked Cory Nyholm of Alpine All Stars in Parker, CO, and Shiela Hajjar of Cheer Zone Athletics in Saucier, MS, to give us the real deal on their coaching experiences. Q. What are three things you’ll never do again as a coach? Cory: First, I’ll never again take my more »