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.
Julie Johnson’s secret to sanity? Instant smoothie gratification. The Extreme Allstars coach brings her Nutri Bullet blender everywhere she goes for that quick fix she craves—and needs. After all, Johnson is often working in the Melbourne, FL-based gym past midnight.
“I know it sounds funny, but it’s true,” Johnson says. “It gets fruit into my system really quickly. I add a little peanut butter. That gets me going for a few hours.”
Liz Gigante Ulrich awakes every day with a mission in mind. As the owner of G Force Gym, home to the Vancouver All Stars, she walks the talk she preaches to her athletes and coaches about the importance of a purpose-driven life. Based in British Columbia’s Port Coquitiam, the gym’s cheer program consists of 20 teams Levels 1 through 5 made up of 400 athletes in uniform, with an additional 150 on half-year prep teams or taking classes. All the teams fall under the guise of Gigante Ulrich and more than 20 credentialed and certified coaches.
As a gym owner or program director, you have a lot on your plate! So we’re giving you some of our favorite free and low-cost resources to help you be more efficient, organized, and profitable in your all-star cheerleading career. These articles are not an advertisement for any listed company or app; it is simply of listing of the tools our consulting clients love the most—and that we love the most—to help you grow your gym.
GTM Sportswear is introducing Ultrafuse Sublimation. What’s sublimation? It’s a process that combines color and design in a single process. Why is this important to you? Your color and design are heat-infused directly into the fabric. This results in a fabric that allows comfort and mobility in a lightweight breathable uniform for those long game more »
One of the greatest gifts about working in the spirit industry is that we have the opportunity to touch lives. We hear you as gym owners and coaches reflect that sentiment to us every day in our work. We as a cheerleading community love what we do! But the truth is, if we don’t run our gyms like a true business that needs to be profitable, we will lose the opportunity to help shape so many lives.
In order to be successful in any business, you must be the master of 3 things: increasing revenue, decreasing expenses and being quickly adaptable.
As love stories go, gym owners and power couple Kristen and Victor Rosario have one that’s straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. (No wonder they’ve been referred to as the “Brangelina” of the cheer world.) A simple ride home from high school was the catalyst for their relationship—and, a few years later, ended up being the foundation of Miami-based gym Top Gun All-Stars, well-known for its reputation as an industry innovator.
The divide over whether to provide complimentary tuition to certain athletes, including boys, is not new. For those in the “pro” column, they typically comp athletes with the idea that offering a free ride will attract additional membership to a gym and—in the case of male athletes—round out a team to deliver an edge over the competition.
So you’re right in the middle of the battlefield—the gym equipment shop. Mission: inspect prospective purchases. As a companion to our primer on buying used equipment, Tumbl Trak’s Stacey Finnerty has got some useful advice on how to carry out an inspection: **For steel products that may be welded, tap the welds with a rubber more »
As a new gym owner, it can be a challenge to make ends meet with a small budget. One surefire way to save cash when just starting out is to buy used equipment. Be warned, though: this route can be fraught with thorns, and it’s important to keep several caveats in mind during purchase. When in the market for used equipment, consider these need-to-know tips from top equipment experts.
Minutes before taking the floor, an athlete crumbles: her heart rate spikes and her breath comes in quick, shallow gulps. While backstage is chaotic, her panic is centered on something else: what will happen next, performing in front of the crowd. As her coach, you’re not sure what to do before she walks onstage—calm her, convince her it’s just like practice or remind her to have fun. Sound familiar?
Number eight on our “Starting a Gym 101” list: Decide on any financing you will need and how you will get it. In other words…show me the money!
For startup businesses, this can be one of the biggest obstacles in getting off the ground. Funding is a challenge for almost every small business, and this especially includes cheer/gymnastics facilities. The space and ceiling height requirements for a gym make the start-up cost even more than a regular new business.
As family and friends filed into the bleachers, the young cheerleaders of Fairfield, NJ-based JuST Cheer All Stars waited patiently for their turn on the rented spring floor in the clean space of the local high school gymnasium. Outside the gym, the chilly December air permeated the hallway, where a handful of vendors had set up tables. The schedule for the day’s event was tight: “First Tinys, then Minis and levels building up to the fives,” says Karen Potucek, co-owner and president of JuST Cheer All Stars, noting that, for many of the athletes, it was their first time performing in front of a crowd.
Ever since the Georgia Heat opened its doors six years ago, Samiha Alexander has been at its nucleus—coaching winning teams in almost every level. As one of this year’s USASF Coach of the Year nominees, she knows the importance of coaching safely in tandem with grooming top-notch teams. We asked Samiha to share her hard-earned insights on safety and success.
At Kernersville, NC-based Cheer Extreme Allstars, team placements are no longer simply announced online, but have now become a festive affair with much more fanfare. This spring, owner Courtney Smith-Pope introduced the “Teal Reveal,” a gala event held at a local church. Smith-Pope spent the morning with her team moms stuffing personalized invites for each athlete, and when she yelled “Go!” later that night, the athletes eagerly ran to each decorated table to see which team held their fate.
In July, the findings of the United States Cheer Officials Survey were released. Get a snapshot of the judges’ responses in this recap, from conditions and compensation to judges’ qualifications to scoresheets and rubrics.
Six years ago, Jon and Tammy Estes, co-owners of Miss Tammy’s All-Star Company in Cleburne, Texas, sought a way to make a difference in their community. As satisfying as it was for them to work with local youth in the gym environment, the couple wanted to do more. When a local boy developed neuroblastoma (the most common form of cancer in children), they knew they’d found their cause.
Research has shown that volunteering can provide a number of physical and emotional benefits. Estes and his wife discovered this firsthand when they designed T-shirts bearing a “Children’s Cancer Arm Bands” logo to help fight pediatric cancer.
Thanks so much to all who entered our Young Entrepreneur contest sponsored by Nfinity, and congratulations to our winner Madelyn Mize and finalists Cheer 360 and Muddy Cheer Challenge! Get to know these enterprising young cheer professionals and find out what’s coming down the pike.
If you love TLC’s “Cheer Perfection,” get ready for more of fiery Alisha Dunlap and her cast of characters at Cheer Time Revolution. Season Two has hit the airwaves! Get to know this opinionated gym owner and find out how “Cheer Perfection” has changed her life.
Get a glimpse into the day-to-day life of USASF’s Les Stella (when he’s not on the road, that is). 5:00 am: Up and at ‘em! I usually start my day with prayer and quiet time, and then it’s off for a barefoot run. 7:00 am: Time for a breakfast—usually eggs and fruit, or sometimes a smoothie. We use a Vitamix blender for all types of great smoothies. We also try to eat breakfast as a family and can pull this off pretty often. 7:30 am: I bring my two sons to school and head into traffic for the 45-minute commute…
When getting started, it’s important to evaluate the perception of cheerleading in your area. When I first I opened four years ago and asked this same question, I would say it would have been unrealistic to get a business sponsor without an “insider.” Since then, my program has helped to change the community’s outlook on competitive cheer and they are much more supportive now. In addition, people are seeing that we are not just about training athletes but also about building character, which provides a greater attraction for support.
Number seven on our list is pricing your services! Pricing your service (tuition) is extremely important. “How much is it?” is usually the first question a customer will ask and—while you don’t want them to gasp for air at your answer—you want to be profitable and competitive with your market. Your tuition cannot out-price your more »
When Cheer Zone Cheerleading athletes sport T-shirts around town in Mount Washington, Kentucky, it’s more than just a way to show team pride—it’s also a savvy strategy for keeping the program afloat. The various company logos decorating the back signify the successful T-shirt sponsorship program created by owner Tamara Erdes to help offset the financial burden for the gym’s 60-plus athletes and their families.
“Our sponsorship is set up more to help the parents than it is the gym,” explains Erdes. “We want to provide them every opportunity to cheer.”
When the Chico Cheer All-Stars travel to UCA Nationals in Orlando, team owner Tiffany Hayes schedules team meals at restaurants such as Planet Hollywood, where her athletes eat chicken sandwiches, pasta and Caesar salads. “While all of the options might not be as nutritionally valuable as what we would choose to make at home, they are much better than having the athletes grab ice cream and churros for dinner while running around Disney World,” says Hayes.
At Mystic All Stars in Apple Valley, CA, signs on the wall proudly proclaim “Family,” and its teams chant “We are Family” at practices and competitions. The close-knit atmosphere at Mystic signifies what is true for so many all-star programs—that gyms can be much more than just places to practice for the next big event, but rather places where seeds of meaningful relationships are sown. Strong emotional connections often form between coaches and athletes, thanks to the intense training and shared cheer experiences that bind them together. But are such deep bonds good for business—or risky business?
Number six on our checklist of key steps that every business should take to start their business on the right track is to get all necessary licenses, permits and insurance. There is so much to do when opening a business that sometimes people overlook the important legal requirements. In addition to the information we are providing more »
Cassandra Rice of Henderson, NV-based Cheercats has watched her gym, Gymcats, grow into a thriving business over the last 21 years. In 1992, Gymcats started out with a base of just 150 members. Today their current roster counts 1,500 clients with 220 athletes enrolled in nine cheer programs. Each week Rice’s clients pass through the front door for rigorous 90-minute tumbling, cheer and choreography workouts. For the casual observer, it’s a scene that might seem to come with ease. In truth, Rice works hard to strike a balance between managing a dynamic program and ensuring that families continue to support it.
Ahh, the holidays—the perfect time to get away from work and relax, right? Not the case for Les Stella. From Easter to Christmas Eve to Thanksgiving, no day is too sacred for the hundreds of coaches worldwide who call Stella day in and day out to clarify USASF rules. “The only day I haven’t gotten a call is Christmas,” shares Stella. “Calls come in at all hours, since we do this for the world, not just the U.S. It’ll be the middle of the night, and I’ll get a call from Australia. It’s all over the map.”
In an industry driven largely by dollars, Maximum Cheer owners Pat McGowan and Cookie Jamison McGowan walk the talk of truly making it “all about the kids.” Their program is entirely non-profit, yet has managed to become a formidable competition presence—creating not just a unique success story, but also valuable opportunities for athletes who might not otherwise be able to benefit from all-star cheerleading. Open to all kids, Maximum Cheer began simply back in 1995. “We started with five flat mats at the Philadelphia Boys & Girls Club,” says Jamison McGowan, adding that it was one of the first all-star programs in the state.
A new gym’s tryouts listed in the local newspaper calendar. Facebook ads promoting a new team. A Twitter campaign that targets most of the local cheer community. Coaches wearing shirts emblazoned with gym info at competitions, making sure to be seen by the Level Five athletes. Signs in the median of the road, attracting the attention of athletes on their way to their current gyms. There are also promises: free tuition if you’re good enough—not to mention free uniform, free travel and the assurance you’re going to Worlds. Cash bounties for getting your (talented) friend to sign up from your competitor. Cheerlebrity-style opportunities for sponsorship, exposure or branding.
Were you intrigued by our journaling article? That’s not surprising—after all, journaling isn’t only helpful for athletes. If you’re a cheer professional whose mind is constantly racing, it might be time for a “brain drain”—aka writing morning pages. The practice of writing morning pages is a tenet of The Artist’s Way, a creativity book and more »
After nearly a decade running the all-star program at St. Peters, MO-based Spirit Elite, Karrie Tumelson is on to a new adventure doing choreography, camps and clinics—with plans to eventually open her own gym. Nominated by The JAM Brands as “Coach of the Year” in 2010 and USASF certified through Level 5, Tumelson has learned a lot in the trenches about inspiring athletes to achieve their best.
It’s not easy for the staff of SWAT All Stars in Fairfield, California, to train an athlete who has double medical trouble—varicose veins and asthma. The varicose veins can be particularly worrisome when even minor injuries happen on the floor, as they make it difficult for the athlete’s body to produce a scab after bleeding. “In cheer, athletes are always [prone] to being cut, but for her, a simple cut could become an emergency,” says Andres Cantero, the gym’s administrative director.
When Alexandra Allred made the first U.S. Olympic women’s bobsled team in 1994, she expected to train hard, eat healthy food and get plenty of sleep. What she didn’t expect was that she’d become an enthusiastic journal keeper.
While living at the Olympic training center in Lake Placid, Allred’s coaches encouraged her to write down descriptions of her workouts, including any injuries and “off days,” as well as dietary intake. “I was recording everything and it became a daily habit,” she says. “I was writing if my workout was good or bad, how I felt about that and why. After a while, I could see patterns emerge.”
Have the industry truly come a long way? CheerProfessional explores the treatment of gay athletes in all-star cheerleading.
For Mike Blaylock, director of Midlothian, VA-based FAME All Stars, all-star cheerleading’s evolving attitude toward gay athletes in sports can be summed up one way: The fact that he can talk openly about his upcoming wedding to his partner of five years, Adam, in the gym.
In this week’s guest post, Danielle McAnn from White Echo shares her top social media tips for cheer professionals: For those who feel daunted by the prospect of engaging their audience on this new medium, here are some basic and important tips to keep your social media feed above average. Keep regular: To keep in contact more »
The co-founders of Cheer Athletics eye the wide expanse of blue mat and white-and-blue Panthers in front of them as the speakers thunder the lyrics, “We don’t know how to fail—Small, Medium, or Large, we’re tougher than nails and we’re gonna leave the other cats chasing their tails.” The lyrics are no empty boast: Cheer Athletics is arguably one of the most successful all-star programs in the nation.
At this point, who isn’t wearing Rebel Athletic? From Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to Cheer Athletics, Rebel Athletic custom uniforms, practice wear and warm-up designs are dominating the way cheerleaders express themselves—bringing a fresh breath of innovation to all-star gyms, competitions, and schools everywhere. Couture Innovation. Rebel has set the new standard as “the innovators of cheer apparel.” They were the first more »
More teams than ever are making the annual pilgrimage to compete at the Cheerleading Worlds in Orlando, and the packed stands this year were a testament to its soaring popularity. Yet some cheer professionals are questioning whether too many at-large bids are being given out to the event—resulting in scheduling issues, overcrowded venues and a perceived loss of prestige. We spoke with Capital Elite’s Debbie Sprague and New Jersey Spirit Explosion’s Theapia Best to learn more about their opposing perspectives.
Are too many at-large bids being given to The Cheerleading Worlds? Before you read our “Two Sides” debate on the topic, get the facts and stats surrounding it. For instance, 209 at-large bids were awarded to Worlds in 2013. 86 full paid bids and 12 partially paid bids were also awarded.
Is your brain abuzz with a dynamite business idea? Do you think you’ve got what it takes to open an innovative cheerleading business or gym—and just need the resources to do it? We’ve got the goods to get you there, thanks to Nfinity’s Young Entrepreneur Competition. We’re partnering with Nfinity to offer this exciting new venture designed to help up-and-coming cheer professionals get started on their professional path.
The summer issue of CheerProfessional is headed for a mailbox near you! Designated as our “Athletes’ Issue,” this edition is designed to help you get up to speed on all things athlete-related. From collecting overdue bills to hiring an athlete onto staff, you’ll find it all in our pages.
Inspired by our juicing article to go the DIY route? Here are some recipes to help you get started: “Beet” the competition with this detoxifying, antioxidant-rich juice recipe from Cynthia Sass (300 calories): Ingredients: 1 medium pear 3 beets 3 large carrots 1-inch fresh ginger root Get your fix of greens and fruits more »
7:30 am: workout. 10 am: marketing strategy meeting. 3 pm: tumbling class. 5 pm: all-star practice. 8 pm: perfectly balanced, high-nutrition meal you lovingly prepared at home. If you found yourself nodding until that very last part, you’re not alone—amidst all the demands of a typical day at the gym, finding time to eat ideal meals is often a tall task. So how do celebrities and star athletes stay energized and fit on their jam-packed schedules? The whispered word on the street is “juicing.”
Get a glimpse into the day-to-day life of Ace Cheer Company tribe leader Happy Hooper.
8:00 am: Wake up. The first thing I do is check emails—this morning = 45 new messages overnight. I try to answer them all, even sending an email to say I’ll get back to them when I have an answer to their question. I check Facebook and Twitter too—and I just joined Instagram, Vine and Path.
9:30 am: Grab Starbucks. My drink of choice: a grande nonfat no-foam latte.
10 am: Go into the office and meet with my business and state directors to go over financials.
Number five on our checklist of key steps that every business should take to start their business out on the right track is the Legal Requirements for Starting a Business. To operate a business legally an organization needs to meet all the laws of the federal government, state government and the city and/or county where more »
Lettuce-only salads, one slice of meat per day and strict rules against pasta, soda and bread—these are the staples of a popular “Worlds diet” making the rounds online (where Tweets like “Oops! So much for my Worlds diet” are standard fare). “I often hear my athletes saying, ‘Have you seen that gym’s Worlds diet?’” says Tanya Roesel of Midwest Cheer Elite. “It’s a bad time of year for body image. Everyone’s going to Florida, where they’ll be either in swimsuits or the spotlight.”
Has the quest to make cheerleading a sport finally hit its stride? With the formation of College STUNT Association and STUNT, USA Cheer’s answer is an emphatic “yes.” Designed to meet Title IX requirements, the sport of STUNT follows a four-quarter format focused strictly on athletic and technical skills including partner STUNTs, pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps and tumbling. All teams must perform the same choreography and technical sequences, and there is no crowd-leading element—differentiating STUNT from both school-based and all-star cheer.
Currently, USA Cheer is taking steps to secure STUNT as an NCAA emerging sport, but not everyone in the cheer industry believes that STUNT is a step forward. We spoke with Randy Dickey of ACX Cheer and Kim Gaskin, high school cheer coach and president of New Jersey State Coaches Association, to find out their perspectives.
Ozell Williams has always been a man in motion. When not cheering at games or competing with his squad at the University of Colorado – Boulder, Williams is entertaining Denver Broncos fans with his power tumbling team, the Mile High Tumblers. Though stillness doesn’t come naturally for the college junior and Tumblers’ founder/CEO, Williams swears by regular meditation—a habit he says helps to heal his body, recharge his mind and optimally manage his multiple endeavors.
Do you know an amazing coach who deserves to be recognized? Here’s your chance to give that person the spotlight he or she deserves! This week, we are excited to announce our brand-new partnership with Americheer: “Dreams for Coaches, Too,” which will honor 20 show-stopping coaches for consideration as 2014’s Coach of the Year at more »
“We’ve got an app for that.”
For gym owners, this is no longer just a trendy catchphrase—in fact, they now can utter those words with confidence. A growing number of all-star programs are recognizing the popularity and usefulness of mobile apps by developing customized apps specifically for their gyms. And the timing is right: more than half of mobile subscribers now use apps instead of Web browsing on their smartphones, according to Internet marketing research company comScore.