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.
His birth certificate may read Randall, but it is “Big Dog” Harper who has risen to the top of the cheer world at Midwest Cheer Elite in West Chester, Ohio. Named the USASF’s Cheer Coach of the Year in 2012, Harper says that it’s the strong bonds he cultivates with his athletes that keep them all striving for excellence. Find out more about this larger-than-life cheer professional in our exclusive Q&A.
New news from Varsity today — the company has merged with Texas-based BSN, a marketer and distributor of team sportswear. See an excerpt from the official press release below: Herff Jones, Inc. (“Herff Jones”) has signed a definitive agreement providing for a business combination with BSN Sports, Inc. (“BSN”). Dallas based BSN is a leading marketer, more »
The line between small and large gym is drawn by USASF, which defines small gyms as having 75 or less athletes and having one physical location. So is crossing the threshold can be as simple as the difference of just one athlete? Far from it—as making the jump from small to large status can often multiply the risks, rewards and responsibilities associated with running your gym.
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 Andrea Fagundes and her co-owners at Athletic Perfection handled the transition from small gym to large gym in style.
“Eat, cheer, sleep”—it may sound like a gym wall mantra, but it’s actually one of the taglines for California All-Stars’ online web series “Cheerleaders.” Featuring coach Eddie Rios and cheerlebrities like Gabi Butler, Jenee Cruise and Kiara Nowlin, the AwesomenessTV show has followed the program’s famed “Smoed” Level 5 team and its highs and lows throughout the season. To date, the series has gotten more than one million overall views on YouTube—impressive exposure for what has already become one of the industry’s most recognizable brands.
Are all-star prep and lower-level teams the future of all-star cheerleading?
Over this past weekend, hundreds of athletes converged on Walt Disney World for an epic cheer competition. Worlds? Not exactly. This year marks the debut of the Summit, a Varsity All-Star event catering to teams in non-Worlds divisions. Following a similar template to Worlds, the Summit awarded 107 paid bids and 355 at-large bids to more than 450 teams of all levels.
Inspired by our “Game Night” story and want to play during practice? Here’s how: Stay simple. Sarah Swicegood Macrow of CEA began giving out colored string bracelets to athletes who had mastered certain skills, and soon the bracelets themselves became a badge of pride (and a bragging right). “All it takes is walking into the toy more »
Almost as one, the squad held their breath. Their eyes were fixed on a Jenga tower, perilously placed and swaying back and forth slowly. If their teammate could pull out a piece and successfully replace it, they’d only have to do whichever exercise was written on it. But if she were to knock the tower over, it would mean an automatic full-out of the whole routine for them all. She pulls the block out gingerly and….
It doesn’t matter whether the tower falls: the athletes are engaged, having fun and training hard.
The road to coaching all-star teams involves a regulated process. Before anyone can coach all-stars, they must be credentialed through USASF. Discover the five things you need to know about credentialing and whether it’s worth it for you!
Just over a decade ago in 2001, the Kentucky Elite Showcats were the first and only special needs cheer team in the country. Today, the trend has exploded with more than 500 squads in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and divisions popping up at major events like Cheersport, NCA and Worlds. At the forefront of the movement? 19-year-old Sarah Cronk, founder of the Sparkle Effect—a non-profit that has spawned more than 87 special needs teams in its singular quest to make cheer an inclusive sport for all.
When Orlando Magic cheerleader Jamie Woode fell on her head in front of a packed crowd at Amway Center, the accident caused shockwaves throughout not only the audience, but the cheer world at large. In light of Woode’s injuries (which included three fractured vertebrae and a broken rib), the University of Florida decided to ground-bound its own collegiate cheer squad—a decision that has since only been partially reversed to allow very basic stunting.
Tech tool: CheerLIVE! (www.cheerlive.net) What it is: Obsessed with watching routines on YouTube? Take your viewing habit up a notch with CheerLIVE!. The website provides both live streaming and video on-demand of various gym showcases (such as Cheer Athletics, Spirit of Texas and Cheer Extreme) and competitions like The MAJORS. For free, guests can listen to the more »
Watching cheerleading genius at work in Birmingham is as simple as buying a movie ticket. If the showing you choose happens to fall just right, you’ll see Happy Hooper in a dark theater, watching the screen but not entirely focused on what’s playing. Instead, he’s mentally projecting images of perfect formations and flawless pyramids rising, spinning and flowing onto the screen. It all plays into the bigger picture back at the gym with his award-winning squads at ACE Cheer Company.
The purpose of this letter is to discuss the USASF’s letter dated April 10, 2013. Growcheer.org applauds the USASF for responding to our proposal and initiating a self-improvement process. We would also like to thank everyone who offered invaluable insight and suggestions into our proposal, provided ongoing support and raised issues on their own to the USASF that we hadn’t even considered.
When the USASF was founded in 2004, the All Star community was much different than it is today. There were no rules, no safety guidelines, no competition standards and no true recognized national championship. If we had had a crystal ball at that time and had been able to see how All Star would develop in the following 10 years, there is no question many things would have been set up differently. However…it is important to understand the history of the organization in order to better appreciate why USASF made some of the decisions that are now being questioned.
In the face of tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, gyms and event producers are forming contigency “intruder plans” to ward off potential disaster. Since a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, the incident has propelled businesses—especially ones involving children—to review their safety procedures, and all-star gyms are no exception.
In March, Cheer Industry Insights founder Jeff Watkins conducted a study of more than 500 cheer professionals and parents to see where they stand on the issues raised by the GrowCheer.org proposal. We conducted a Q&A with him to find out more about the collective response—read it and download the full survey results here!
One of the most overlooked aspects of business is the relationships you create. During our 13 years of business, we cannot count the number of times that we have been grateful for the friends and professional relationships we have made and their contribution to the success of our business. Any time you are looking at more »
This month marks the 10th annual Cheerleading Worlds in Orlando, Florida—the countdown begins! Get prepped by taking a look back at the gold medalists in each division since the beginning. (We’re looking forward to filling in the blanks for 2013.) Check out the wonderful wide world of worlds, and don’t miss our 10-year retrospective in the summer issue of CheerProfessional!
What does it take to make it to the Cheerleading Worlds each year? From tryouts to the final flight of the season in Orlando, FL, we got the scoop from a few EPIC coaches that are headed to the 2013 Cheerleading Worlds: Fame Super Seniors Coach Phil Logan and Pro Athletics Coach Jason Graham. Try-Outs more »
The path to championship glory is paved with good intentions—and smart strategies. To help you discover the right road map for your program, we asked gym owners from Spirit of Texas, Rock Solid All-Stars, Brandon All-Stars and Twist & Shout for their secrets to success. First and foremost, be mindful of the trickle-up effect. Focusing too much on any one team can compromise long-term success, says Orson Sykes of Twist and Shout, which has 20 teams and three Oklahoma-based locations.
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.
Step three on the Starting a Business Checklist = writing a business plan. This is another crucial element that many current business owners still do not have. This is like going on a vacation without an itinerary or any idea of what you are going to do. You need a clear picture of what is more »
Talk of a universal scoresheet has permeated the industry for years. In 2010, the Independent Event Producers (IEP) made an official recommendation to the USASF stating that its 22 independent companies felt a universal scoresheet would be in the industry’s best interest. “We have made great strides toward legitimizing our sport and scoring is one more »
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.
At this point, who isn’t doing the Harlem Shake? From the University of Georgia Men’s Swimming & Diving team to the KSLA News in Shreveport, LA, to even the Peanuts gang, it seems like pretty much everyone is in on the dance video craze—and, of course, cheer gyms are at the forefront of the trend. Here more »
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.
Last month we provided a list for new business owners to follow in order to start up a new business successfully. We elaborated on the first step: picking a business name and registering it with your county (DBA – Doing Business As); this month, we will delve into checklist item number two: deciding on the legal more »
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.
Question: How can I help my athletes overcome mental blocks in tumbling and stunting? Answer from sports psychologist Dr. Caroline Silby: Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes to solving mental blocks (resulting in not going for a skill). Yet there are some strategies that can accelerate the timeframe in which athletes move past the block and more »
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?!’”
In the world of competitive cheer, dance and even pageants, the parents and kids are required to put on “stage makeup” and put on a uniform or costume that gives them an edge in the judge’s eyes. The gym owners and/or coaches are always looking for the next best thing in regards to makeup and more »
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.”
Mix your own cheer music with these DIY editing programs. Footloose and free: Available for both Windows and Mac, Audacity is a free, open-source download that can be used to edit different types of sound files; copy, splice or mix sound effects; and alter the speed or pitch of a recording. Newbies rave that Audacity is more »
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.