Anyone who’s read our “Starting a Gym 101” series on the CheerProfessional website knows that launching a new all-star program can be a massive undertaking—from setting up the logistics to securing the right insurance to attracting clients. To find out what it really takes for a successful start-up, we spoke with three cheer professionals who’ve just completed their first year at the helm.
First Year Case Study #1:
Location: Imperial, PA
# of athletes: 21
Though it’s not technically Pittsburgh Pro’s first year in business (the gym is actually in its fifth year), first-year cheer director Paige Crimson Priano and two other programs had to start the program from scratch last season with just 10 athletes. The previous year, the gym had about 40 girls, but they all quit and went to different gyms, except for one veteran. Find out how this fledgling program is reinventing itself:
CP: How has your first year in charge of the program gone?
Priano: We got a group of 10 girls that we kept through the whole year—we just had one team. It was a good start for us to see we can handle one team, and now we know we can handle more. We had a youth Level 1 team, so they were all babies and so eager to learn.
CP: What has been your top priority this year?
Priano: After I took the title of program director, the biggest change I made was communication. I sent at least one email every month to make sure everyone knew the dates coming up. By the end of the season, I was sending weekly emails. Communication helped build our relationship with the parents. I feel like I know every single parent now, and I want to keep that [momentum] going.
CP: Can you tell us about how your “Become a Pro” camp helped grow the program?
Priano: We were supposed to have our last competition in April but had to reschedule it, so we had the whole month of April open, still with only 10 girls. We were trying to think of ways to get our name out there, and I came up with a “Become a Pro” camp. The flyer said, “Try it before you buy it.” The camp was every Tuesday in April for two hours; we taught the girls all the basics of all-star cheer so they could see if it’s the sport for them.
Priano: You have to be organized. I keep a lot of lists. Being organized in your brain is one thing, but being able to see it on paper really makes a difference for me.
CP: What’s something you’ve learned this year?
Priano: Halfway through the season, we realized we were focused on the wrong thing with our girls. The girls were hitting the routines every single competition, but they were leaving feeling defeated, just because they didn’t get first. So we switched from focusing on placement to focusing on the improvements they made from the last competition, and not letting the judges’ decisions affect the girls. Now, they feel more in control. We didn’t win our big competition at nationals, but we ended up leaving that competition feeling better than ever because of the improvements they made.