They say when one door closes, another one opens. In Jessica Moltisanti’s case, the 2009 economic downturn and her husband’s sudden unemployment was just the catalyst Moltisanti needed to open the doors at Zone Cheer All Stars. Since then, Zone has grown from one team of 16 athletes to nine teams with more than 300 athletes. Despite such a meteoric rise, however, Moltisanti never wavered from her commitment to a powerful trifecta: dedication to the sport, an educator’s background and a fierce, former cheerleader’s spirit. Learn more about this rising cheer entrepreneur in our candid Q&A:
Moltisanti: At the beginning of the season, I invite all 300 [sets of] parents to the gym and present our history, goals for the year and a bit about the gym’s philosophy. Once we establish the teams, we have smaller, intimate team meetings so parents can ask questions and we can all get to know each other. I also hand pick a team mom—usually a seasoned parent—whom I communicate with regularly. The team moms provide a vital link between the parents and me.
Do you also rely on social media?
Moltisanti: We use Facebook a lot to communicate with parents and athletes. We are so proud when girls learn a new skill and share those milestones on our page. For the older teams, we have separate groups, and I’m very active on those pages, too.
You are both a coach and an owner. Do you find that balancing those two very different roles is difficult?
Moltisanti: It’s hectic! Between the gym and the daily existence as a mother of three, being both a coach and owner is stressful. I’ve learned to put on my owner hat and tackle all the business tasks. After that, I become coach. And I only coach one team now—the platinum senior level 4—but coaching is one of my strengths. I also know my weaknesses.
Moltisanti: Coming into the all-star world as the new kid of the block isn’t easy. But I focused on myself and my goals for the gym, and never stopped improving on the business. I also educate the parents so they understand the importance of things like tumbling clinics. We have lost some people that didn’t like our philosophy but I stuck to my vision and what I believed in, and then we started to get more and more people coming through the door. [This year,] I was a top three finalist for Coach of the Year for USASF. Although I didn’t win, I will strive to represent all that the awards stands for and our families know that.
Talk about a recent challenge that you have faced.
Moltisanti: We started a dance program in 2011 and we had a great instructor but she moved. Last year, it wasn’t where it needed to be so we brought on Brantley Jittu. He has a strong dance, hip-hop and choreography background and has incorporated those elements into cheer and stunts.
What are your business goals for 2015, and how do you plan on reaching them?
Moltisanti: My goals are to grow the program by providing high customer service, a family atmosphere and the best staff who can implement the highest level of competitive coaching for our athletes. I plan to continue to add mats and conditioning apparatus and maintain the cleanest and most pristine facility in our area. I also plan to focus on kids having fun and learning not only athletics, but how to become a strong, caring individual.