Power Cheer! is celebrating 20 years; tell us about your journey.
I moved to Florida after cheering at the University of Kansas and began working as an xray tech. I had been involved in gymnastics and cheer for the majority of my life and NOT being involved was killing me! I called around the local schools and gymnastics gyms asking if anyone was hiring for a position in cheer, and one gymnastics gym called me back after about 6months and said they had 8 girls that wanted to do cheer and wanted to know if I wanted to work with them. I jumped at the chance and started a program with just those 8 girls. We practiced at this facility for about 6 months and by that time, I had about 30 girls. I knew I needed to make the move to get started on my own, so I called the YMCA and asked if we could rent the gym and practice there. We literally rolled out 7 carpet/foam panels for every single practice for an entire year, and then finally I had about 50 kids and decided to take the plunge and get my own building. At this point, this had become a full time job promoting the program and figuring out how to run a business that no one seemed to know anything about. I went to the city council to get zoning permits and they had to create a business style in order to approve this! Once we were in our building, the business grew so fast that we had to move to a new building within the first year, and we have been there ever since. This gym has seen me through almost half my life; from single days of teaching NCA camps to getting married and having children, growth spurts and economic crashes.. but we have made it, and we are stronger than ever!
What would you say is your gym’s biggest obstacle?
I think the hardest thing we have to deal with is being in a small town. There are economic issues related to that. But mostly it doesn’t leave much room for having more than one or two programs. It seems that the circle is small in this sport and when someone decides not to cheer or leave for another program, it causes a bit of a domino effect.
How does your gym plan to overcome that?
Economically, we have stay below what is an “industry standard” and we just continue to offer more clinics, classes and things that bring additional revenue into the gym. As far as numbers, we have been growing every year for the last 5 years and I think this is largely in part to our continued effort to market and reach out to local schools and community events. Our retention rate is normally around 90 to 95% and that is helping keep our numbers high!
Any accomplishments you’d like to boast about?
I am proud to say that we have competed at World’s twice, and attended the Summit and D2 Summit 3 years in a row, this past year taking two teams. We have won over 300 State, National and Grand Championships. We have also attended the US Finals for the past 5 years, bringing home only first and second places each year. But my favorite awards have been the Sportsmanship awards that we have won. It is an honor to win a competition, but an even bigger honor to be seen as good leaders and respectful athletes in this industry.
How do you keep your athletes on track and balanced in terms of school, cheer, family/friend time, etc.?
We have a big word that we use in our gym, it’s “accountability”. We have an athlete meeting at the very beginning of our season that goes over the importance of being at practice, how it affects others, and that staying ahead of your school work and outside obligations will give you the ability to handle the schedule involved with being in our program.
We also tell our parents and athletes at the beginning of every season, that the gym shouldn’t be used for punishment and that missing a practice affects more than just your child. So with us reminding our families of these two things, we seem to be able to keep our kids in the gym and making practice a priority.
What is the number one thing you hope your athletes remember at the end of the day?
I want our athletes to be dedicated, responsible, loyal, respectful and accountable. These are all amazing traits going into the real world. I truly don’t care what level a child competes at as long as I send them into the world as a good human being who cares about others and will leave a positive mark in the world. I want to see them somewhere 10 years later and know they have done good things for themselves and others.
Any other fun info you’d like to share?
Over 15 years ago, we had two girls that had lost their mom to Breast cancer ask if their team could wear pink bows at competition in memory of her. Of course, I said yes! At the time, everyone wore bows that matched their uniforms and so we were always being stopped at competitions asking why our bows didn’t match. I am not saying we completely started the trend, but we were definitely one of the first gyms to do it, and I love seeing all the different colored bows that represent all the causes that gyms are supporting today.