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.
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.
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!