In addition to all the great content we bring cheer professionals in our quarterly print issue, you’ll find plenty of original exclusive content right here at TheCheerProfessional.com.
When Jam’s Athletics owner Elizabeth Marsh and her teams arrived at the Cheer Nation Nationals, they were looking forward to the opportunity to compete; in fact, one of the Jam’s Athletics teams was preparing for their first-ever performance. Instead, they got a heartbreaking surprise. “The day of the competition, we came in, and there were no mats, pretty much nothing set up,” says Marsh, who was approached by a rep for event organizer Halee Yates to see if they could borrow Jam’s Athletics mats and spring floor at the last minute. This was not only an unusual request from an EP, but a tall order.
It may sound like just another trendy buzzword, but “volun-tourism” is a very real trend. A 2008 study by Tourism & Research Marketing found that an estimated 1.6 million volunteer tourists take “ethical” holidays where they have an opportunity to experience another culture while performing philanthropic actions. If you’re thinking about joining their ranks, get inspired by these three inspiring stories from cheer professionals who’ve been there and done that:
It’s not uncommon for parents to become close when their kids cheer together. What is unusual is for that friendship to blossom into a full-fledged, profitable and fun business. For Wanda and Gary Whipkey, Caryn Hale and Laura Dudley of Tallmadge, Ohio, starting American Elite Cheerleading in 2005 made sense because of their combined enthusiasm and experience volunteering at the all-star gym where their daughters trained. They just weren’t the ones who came up with the idea.
Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? Many business owners answer the call for expansion and go on to open multiple locations. To learn more about this approach, CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success. Learn how the Stingrays tackle the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand.
5:00 or 6:00 am: I get up early in the morning to work out before the girls wake up. (I have two little girls: 3-year-old Ruby Jane and 1-year-old Eleanor.) 90 percent of my workout is straight running—right now, I use the treadmill because it’s been so darn cold [in Kentucky], but I’ve done a couple marathons and a bunch of half-marathons and smaller races. Then I shower, drop Ruby Jane off at pre-school around 8:30ish and come to the office.
When JAM Brands co-founder Dan Kessler tried cheerleading for the first time at the University of Louisville after two years of playing collegiate soccer, his friends told him he was a natural at stunting. But he still had to learn the techniques from the ground up: a toss hands, then a toss hands extension, then a liberty, then a top hand. “[Stunting] was a new athletic skill that I had to conquer and try to perfect,” he says. “That addiction of getting better kept me going to practice and working.”
Considering getting incorporated? We asked legal expert Trippe Fried to give us the skinny on several types of corporations that may work well for gym owners: Subchapter S-corporations (“S-corp”): Profits and losses flow through to the owners. There are some requirements to qualify, the key one being that all of the owners must be U.S. more »
At this stage in her cheer career, Jackie Lindom does it all. Besides managing the Twisters Elite Cheer & Dance Gym in Lake Villa, Ill., Lindom also coaches, helps with choreography for various teams and judges for Xtreme Spirit and several rec competitions. (Oh, and she is just 21 years old.) Having been a cheerleader since age five, Lindom made the transition from competitor to coach/gym manager shortly after competing at Worlds in 2010 and has continued to expand her role—inside the gym and out—throughout the years.
As a new gym owner, looming legal and business matters can flummox you—among them the decision whether to file as an LLC or corporation. Infiniti Elite Athletics owner Cari Ann Bulzone says filing as an S-corp was one of the first things she did when she took over the program from its previous owner in 2012—and it was a learning experience every step of the way. “It’s not something to take lightly; gym owners should definitely do their homework,” says Bulzone, who used LegalZoom as a resource and to facilitate filing.
Now that you know all about supplements and whether they’re right for you and your athletes, here are four to consider for better health and performance: B Vitamins: Provide energy for cellular function in active adults and athletes, who are often lacking the necessary reserves. Sleep deprivation and stress can be a culprit in depleting more »
We’re all familiar with the cheer powerhouses, organizations like Top Gun, California All Stars and Cheer Athletics, whose names and accolades easily come to mind. But among these giants, Brandon All-Stars has slowly and quietly emerged out of Brandon, Fla. (a suburb of Tampa), and is poised to take its place in the spotlight.
In Morgantown, all-star gym Champion Training Academy sells USANA nutritional supplements and weight loss products as part of its adult weight loss/group fitness program. Over in Katy, Texas, Xcel Athletics All-Stars hosted a Valentine’s Day shopping event earlier this year at which one of the vendors was Advocare. Some gyms are also selling Advocare on-site, such as Green Bay-based Tri County Gymnastics & Cheer, and many cheer professionals moonlight as Advocare reps in addition to their work at the gym.
Need a legal leg to stand on when it comes to others copying your gym? One attorney says that your imitator may be liable of “causing confusion.” “There’s no reason in the world why a gym cannot have a trademark in its name [or] its logo. And there’s no reason that a gym can have more »
Creating a thriving program is often the impetus for starting an all-star cheer gym—but what happens when that accomplishment generates considerable demand? Many business owners answer the call for expansion and go on to open multiple locations. To learn more about this approach, CheerProfessional asked three gym owners who took the leap and expanded based on their own initial success. Learn how All Star Legacy tackles the challenge while maintaining the integrity of their brand.
You’ve worked hard to establish your own gym, creating a unique identity with colors, logo and uniforms. A few years later, having built a solid reputation, you’re at an event when in swaggers a brand-new team—wearing colors very similar to yours, a logo that looks awfully close to yours and (wait for it) practically the same name as yours, just with a different spelling.
Is this a scenario for yet another Bring It On movie? Unfortunately, no. It’s an all-too-common occurrence for many all-star cheer programs.
Did you ace our industry quiz? Enhance your knowledge even more with our comprehensive timeline of industry trends and innovations—from rebate plans to stay-to-play to custom uniforms—and find out how they came to fruition. (Please note: this is a living document! We are continually updating and adding more information. If you would like to add updates to our timeline, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
With all of the developments in our ever-evolving industry, it can be hard to keep up. For handy reference, we’ve compiled a thorough timeline of how some of today’s hottest trends and innovations came about (and the companies that pioneered them). But before it publishes this Wednesday, take our quiz below to find out how much you know—then check out the answers in our sneak preview!
For the second year in a row, CheerProfessional tapped four of the industry’s cheer “leaders” for a spirited panel discussion on our industry and its future. Check out our “State of the Union” panel for 2014 and read what they have to say.
Number 10 on our list is to set up an in-house office system for recordkeeping and accounting. Many new business owners tend to put this on the back burner or contract it out to “someone who likes math,” and it can soon become cancerous. Improper record keeping or accounting can become a business owner’s worst nightmare, so attention to detail is extremely important.
As the divide between small and large gyms grows wider, it’s not uncommon for gyms to merge in an attempt to pump up profits and competitive power. On the surface, the reasons to merge seem clear—building a larger membership base or having the means to form a stronger coaching staff. But dig deeper and you’ll find that a number of other motivating factors are often at play, from strengthening the local cheer community to wanting to benefit the athletes. For our “Behind the Merger” series, we caught up with Kayla Wygal of West Virginia Cheer Academy.
Many gym owners—and parents—have long appreciated the autonomy of making their own travel arrangements for competition, due to the flexibility and options afforded by this approach. However, more event producers are now requiring “stay to play” (requiring that teams stay in a designated room block set up by a third-party company in order to compete). The practice has sparked debate inside the industry: some gym owners are boycotting these types of events, on the grounds that rooms are being egregiously marked up and that it creates less choice for budget-conscious families. However, event producers maintain that stay-to-play is necessary in order to maintain ongoing relationships with the venues and cities their customers have come to love. See what Cheer Zone owner Tamara Reed and Cheer Power’s Regina Symons have to say on the topic.
For our new “Go, Go Gadget!” review feature, we asked the team at Georgia Tech to road test the Cheer Balance Pro Pedestal.Harrison owns four Cheer Balance pedestals, which he rotates among his flyers and uses during summer training. Each flyer follows the same circuit: liberty, arabesque, stretch, scale, bow & arrow, scorpion. “When you pull all of those, you really have to work your hip flexors, abs, core, ankle and leg—really focusing on keeping yourself centered over the pole,” Harrison explains.
As the divide between small and large gyms grows wider, it’s not uncommon for gyms to merge in an attempt to pump up profits and competitive power. On the surface, the reasons to merge seem clear—building a larger membership base or forming a stronger coaching staff. But dig deeper and you’ll find that other motivating factors are often at play, from strengthening the local cheer community to wanting to benefit the athletes. For our “Behind the Merger” series, we caught up with Sydney McBride to learn more about the Legendary Athletics merger.
Can’t stop hearing about the Champions League? CheerProfessional has your need-to-know guide to one of this year’s biggest debut events—we caught up with Nfinity’s marketing director Hillary Dwyer to find out what cheer professionals and athletes can expect from the new Champions League event (and movie!). Find out what she had to say in our Q&A.
Less than a year after starting Twister Sports, co-owner Danielle Johnston has made the leap to full-time to foster her all-star gym’s rapid growth. Though the program began just a year ago, Twister Sports has grown rapidly to 300-plus athletes—necessitating a gym expansion and the full attention of co-owners Danielle Johnston and Angie Fritsch. In light of the enthusiastic response, Johnston quit her job of seven years in October to focus on the gym full-time.
As our economy rebounds from the “Great Recession,” juggling multiple jobs is a common conundrum for many people—and cheer professionals are no exception. In fact, for gym owners, balancing more than one job might be a necessity regardless of what’s happening in the economy. As most owners will candidly share, opening a gym is something you do because you’re passionate about cheer, not because you want to get rich quick. Just ask these three moonlighting entrepreneurs, who know the perks and pitfalls of juggling jobs all too well.
As the divide between small and large gyms grows wider, it’s not uncommon for gyms to merge in an attempt to pump up profits and competitive power. On the surface, the reasons to merge seem clear—building a larger membership base or having the means to form a stronger coaching staff. But dig deeper and you’ll find that a number of other motivating factors are often at play. For our “Behind the Merger” series, we caught up with East Celebrity Elite to learn more about their merging process.
Walking into Cheer Fusion in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it’s hard to miss the colorful posters lined up above the mirrors. Filled with platitudes like “Practice Like a Champion” and goals like “I would like to cheer for college and get a scholarship,” these homemade vision boards provide a creative source of motivation for the gym’s teams—as well as a much-needed means of focus and direction.
For our new “Go, Go Gadget!” review feature, we asked the team at North Florida Elite to road test the new KONTAQ sportsbra. Touted as a “revolutionary sports bra,” Kontaq is designed to prevent breast pain and injuries caused by sports contact. The bra utilizes special removable inserts made from StuntShield (a special contact-absorbing material that is flexible, breathable and antimicrobial). Estimated to reduce 90% of the energy of impact, Kontaq supports athletes’ chests and holds them in position to reduce impact, bounce and movement during routines.
Professionalism, the importance of checks and balances and family are three of the moral tenets that ACX Cheer owner Randy Dickey lives by. Actually, if it were up to him to reorder those terms, family would come first, specifically Dickey’s wife Amie (whom he met in college at an Atlanta honky-tonk) and his 9-year-old daughter Macie. “I honestly think that, in cheerleading, the way you treat your family will show through in your character in the industry,” he says. “[When] people treat their family bad, disrespect their marriages or do things like that, [that behavior] says a lot about who they are in the industry. I believe that your family comes first.”
It’s a common gym owner conundrum: “My parents are researching event costs on their own and questioning my fees!” After all, it’s easier than ever for parents to get online and do their own legwork—since event producers are utilizing the same strategies that gym owners use to market their businesses, from informative websites to robust social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But what does that mean for gym owners who get caught in the crossfire?
If Thunder Elite All-Stars coach Cher Fuller has her phone out while her Junior Level 3’s are running a routine, it’s not because she’s texting. She’s boosting the gym’s brand—and bonding with her athletes—by snapping a quick picture or video of their progress to share on Instagram. By now, many cheer gyms now have active Facebook and Twitter accounts and know the benefits of connecting with athletes, parents and potential customers on those platforms—but Instagram and Pinterest can develop that connection even further.
When Megan Eacret’s business partner left Cheer San Diego to start her own program—taking some of their clients with her—Eacret was faced with a dilemma: shortage of flyers. Rather than feeling discouraged, Eacret embraced it as a welcome challenge. “Some of our athletes who had only flown a prep or two as needed in pyramids were given an awesome opportunity to develop their skills and become full-time flyers,” shares Eacret.
Worried about gymhoppers? Consider implementing a loyalty program. These incentive-based programs provide a win-win situation by helping gyms retain clientele—and giving those families a reason to stay loyal. At Charleston, SC-based C3 Cheer and Dance, loyalty rewards range from free uniforms to discounted class tuition to free contest entries. “Our gym greatly benefits from loyalty programs because it gets our families spreading the word about our gym’s many classes and programs, and [our various reward offerings] help keep the existing customers happy,” says gym owner Robin Ridout.
Fresh off Season Two of TLC’s “Cheer Perfection,” Alisha Dunlap’s gym and life have taken the spotlight once again. Find out what challenges and opportunities the exposure has brought this spirited coach and owner of Cheer Time Revolution, and learn what advice she has for other coaches hoping to follow in her footsteps.
It’s a memorable moment at Oregon Dream Teams, as an athlete throws a round-off/back handspring/tuck three times in a row. Mastering this new skill qualifies her for a special honor—getting to ring the gym’s dinner bell. Practice halts as everyone gathers round to watch the athlete demonstrate the skill and give her a round of applause. The bell is just one of many ways gym owner and coach Tori Cotton gives her athletes public recognition, whether it’s in front of cheering teammates or a shout-out on the gym’s scrolling web banner.
What is a coach? Is a coach a leader, teacher, mentor or friend? If you ask the individuals who nominated their coaches, they’d say a coach is all of these traits and more. AmeriCheer and AmeriDance are partnering with CheerProfessional to award the Coach of the Year award at the AmeriCheer & AmeriDance InterNational Championship, held at Walt Disney World Resort®, on March 22-23, 2014.
You may know Tanya Roesel as the determined entrepreneur behind the Midwest Cheer Elite empire, but long before her all-star cheer days, she first made a name for herself as a DJ—spinning at Cincinnati nightclubs and eventually opening for major acts like Prince back in the 80s. The road to notability, however, wasn’t exactly smooth: as the only female DJ in town, she was often told she couldn’t succeed because she was a woman. “I love when people tell me I can’t do something because it just makes me want to do it more.”
Randy Dickey of Columbia, SC-based ACX Cheer thought so highly of Kyle Wright that after cheering for ACX, Randy asked Kyle to run his gym in Charleston. “Athlete, coach, gym manager, Kyle does it all,” says Dickey of Wright’s work today.
Like many other cheer professionals, Wright was initially a gymnast. When asked to cheer in high school, he was hesitant at first but finally gave in because, “I figured there would be girls there.”
26-year-old Megan Carmean, aka “Carmeano,” considers herself an “in-betweener” because she was able to experience the evolution of the all-star world from the time she first began her cheer career at age 10 at Omaha, NE-based Elite Cheer to now. While competing as an athlete, Carmean also played the role of assistant coach in many of the national championships the team won. Since 2006, Carmean has been Elite Cheer’s Head Coach, Safety Coordinator and Youth Program Director (all while holding down a full-time job as a nurse).
We received the following email in our inbox from a 13-year-old aspiring all-star cheerleader and enlisted program director/coach Tara Wieland of Michigan Storm Cheer & Dance to share her insights and advice.
Question: Hi, I am a 13-year-old and I love the concept of cheerleading and would love to cheer myself. So can I still be on an all-star team even though I am not be able to tumble and be super flexible?
Most people don’t equate cheerleading with computer science, but global systems engineer and former all-star athlete Ambrel Mitchell Brannon has successfully been able to juggle all the above. Currently a coach at Cheer Athletics, Brannon completed a Masters degree in computer science at Southern Methodist University while coaching several teams and competing on an open coed team. Now retired, she works her day job as an engineer and spends her nights and weekends coaching at Cheer Athletics.
The old adage “Go with what you know” is a familiar one for Cheer Savannah owner Stephanie Britt. When hiring new employees, Britt tends to go straight to the source—athletes from within her gym who’ve been there, done that.
The decision has always been a no-brainer for Britt, who finds it extremely advantageous to use coaches who grew up in the culture of the gym. After all, they already know the drills and terminology, so very little training is necessary. In addition, the athletes are familiar with gym policies and can teach others how to best represent themselves and Cheer Savannah to the community. “You’re only a leader if people follow you,” says Britt, “and leadership is key to any gym program’s success.”
The following is a guest post from coach, choreographer and social media consultant Kate Boyd: By now, you’re aware that you need a social media policy, and you may already have one created. So start by giving yourself a high five! Because the first step in implementing a policy is to have one (or at more »
Scott “Crasher” Braasch’s nickname is hard to ignore—especially in cheerleading, a sport that tends to frown on crashes of any kind. Braasch is quick to mention that the nickname doesn’t reflect how he drives or stunts, but the Cheer Tyme titan still remembers the moment he got the moniker, when his wild-eyed, excitable high school football coach congratulated him after a game-winning play.
Obtaining a building, space and equipment is number 9 on our list. An inefficient design of your facility can greatly affect your bottom line. A lot of businesses go too big too fast. Getting the most amount of kids in the least amount of space is how businesses become profitable. Every square inch of your more »
One of the hottest topics at this year’s NACCC conference in Doral? The idea of a universal scoresheet. Cheer professionals Kristen Rosario and John Metz are among the industry’s outspoken advocates for this development, and the 22 member companies of IEP announced their collective endorsement of having a universal scoresheet back in 2010. However, respondents to a CheerProfessional survey in June were evenly split, with half for and half against (and one stipulating that she would support a universal rubric rather than scoresheet).
Many cheer professionals wear several hats—not only as gym owners and coaches, but also as parents. And when the two worlds meet, things can get complicated. After all, raising a child is a challenging endeavor for any parent, but the ante is especially raised when doing double-duty as parent and coach. Issues like favoritism, overcompensation and parental guilt constantly arise and have become frequent topics of discussion in private Facebook groups for cheer professionals.
Social media and its various tools—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest—provide a wonderful opportunity for gyms to interact online, but the very nature of the beast can sometimes put a gym’s reputation at risk. One derogatory remark on Twitter, and 1,000 re-tweets later, your popularity could hit rock bottom. The best solution for keeping your social media reputation in check? Implementing a social media policy.