Fresh off Season Two of TLC’s “Cheer Perfection,” Alisha Dunlap’s gym and life have taken the spotlight once again. Find out what challenges and opportunities the exposure has brought this spirited coach and owner of Cheer Time Revolution, and learn what advice she has for other coaches hoping to follow in her footsteps.
“Cheer Perfection” just finished its second season. How has exposure from the show positively and/or negatively impacted Cheer Time Revolution?
Dunlap: At first the “cheer world” was not behind the show, so [my husband] RD and I took a lot of flack over it, but I knew, with time, it would show us as we truly are. For the gym, it has been so positive. It has put our name out there and also shown everyday kids that anyone can learn to cheer.
Since the show premiered, has it changed the way you interact with parents in your gym? Have their expectations shifted at all?
Dunlap: The show hasn’t changed the way I do things at the gym, but it has made me deal with the parents a little differently. I really have too much of an open line of communication with them; this “open door policy” may have given them a bit too much accessibility to me, but I still wouldn’t change this [approach]—as it has made Cheer Time Revolution the family that it is. As for expectations, I am not sure those have changed; our gym parents have always liked to win and want their kids to be the best they can be.
What tips do you have for gym owners who would like to gain more exposure for their gym?
Dunlap: Just put yourself out there by becoming more involved in your community, city and state functions. I never realized how getting your name out there could draw so many new clients. Our athletes do halftime performances at various collegiate basketball games, and we’ve been very involved in events such as Race for a Cure; we also work hand-in-hand with the City of Little Rock Tourism Bureau as city ambassadors. We believe it’s important to give back to the city and communities that have supported us.
What advice would you give to those who take part in a reality show?
Dunlap: Enjoy it. Have fun with it, but stand your ground and be you. Don’t let anyone tell you who they want you to be. My family and I have been so lucky to have a crew that has let us be “us.” You can’t let the spotlight get to you. Always remember that when the cameras and fame go away, life goes just right back to how it was before.
Dunlap: The biggest challenge is trying to please all the fans at competitions. I am there for a reason, and that reason is to get my teams on the floor so they are able to do their best. I have to give my team my attention. It can be really hard to try to do it all! It gets to the kids, too. When hundreds of kids want their photos and autographs, I have to keep their focus on why they are there as well. But we love everyone that supports us and wish we had the time to see and visit with all of them!
Besides increased exposure and clientele, what opportunities has “Cheer Perfection” presented that you may not have anticipated?
Dunlap: We have had lots of great things come our way. We are doing lots of traveling to other gyms in other states for consulting, clinics and meet-and-greets. The supporters of Cheer Time Revolution are amazing, so we always embrace opportunities to meet them. We are also looking forward to our European tour and summer camps in 2014. Seeing other gyms and how they do things is a ton of fun; we love learning as much as we love teaching.
Are there any themes that “Cheer Perfection” has not yet addressed that you’d like to see highlighted in a future show?
Dunlap: I would really like “Cheer Perfection” to show more teams and how children of all ages and skill levels do it.
What are your short and long-term goals for the gym? How does “Cheer Perfection” fit into those plans?
Dunlap: The short-term goal is to have a great season at CTR and have our teams do their very best and learn a lot this year. The long-term goal is that I want CTR to be the place to be; I want to teach athletes to be their best. “Cheer Perfection” will always have a place at CTR—the experience has been so much fun for these kids and families.