Meet Trisha Hart, now in her 10th year as co-owner of All-Star Legacy (a decorated cheer gym with three locations in Virginia and West Virginia), coach for the program’s Mini Level One and Youth Level Two teams, and cheer consultant/choreographer. We snagged this busy cheer professional for a candid Q&A—read what she had to say below:
CP: What is one thing you wish you’d known when starting out?
Trisha: I would have liked to find more balance from the beginning. In this industry, you work from the minute you wake up until the minute you go to bed, and at first, I sacrificed a lot of my personal friendships and family relationships to bring the gym great success. I also invested a lot of emotion into the clients and kids, which I wouldn’t take back, but in retrospect, I wish someone had told me not to take it so personally when kids would leave and go to a different gym.
CP: You spend a lot of time training coaches from other programs. What’s one thing you think coaches could do differently as a whole?
Trisha: After seeing Worlds on ESPN or certain YouTube videos, coaches often have expectations that their kids will be able to do those things, but teaching them how to get there is something we’re lacking. A good test-taker might be able to get credentialed very high, but at the end of the day, hands-on training and being able to communicate with different athletes is bigger than anything else. Going to a gym or practicing 3-10 hours a week and having them repeat bad habits won’t get progress. Coaches need to be more hands-on, and I blame that on lack of training that we’re offering as an industry.
Q: Name something you wouldn’t do again as a coach.
Trisha: Relying on parent volunteers to be the communication of the business. We’ve worked with a lot of parents to get messages to the masses—each team has one or two parent representatives. I’ve learned that giving them the reins can sometimes bite you in the butt, as your words can be misconstrued. It’s great to have parent volunteers, but not necessarily as a main line of information.
CP: Talk about trends you’re seeing in choreography.
Trisha: Right now, it’s too skill-based. Look at any event producer’s scorecard—in order to get a quantity score, you end up jam-packing two minutes and thirty seconds with so many skills that you lose all the flashy fun. Showmanship and entertainment value are what competitive cheerleading was originally built for, but we’re starting to get away from them. We have to do so much in a routine that we’re counting the number of elements and skills versus appreciating the creativity of what we do. In maximizing the scoresheet, we lose the creative overall effect and appeal. I’d love to see it all be one big package again, but the only way that will happen is by not expecting so much.
CP: How would you sum up your coaching approach?
Trisha: Passionate and energetic about our industry and coaching, with high expectations for all athletes’ growth and development—no matter what age or ability level.