coach of the year

Candid Coach Q&A: Amy Faulkner

Candid Coach Q&A: Amy Faulkner

Got your blinders handy? Amy Faulkner’s dedication to the Northstar Studios community shines bright. As founder, owner and coach, she has grown the cheerleading studio to become a welcoming beacon in Sunbury, Ohio. Along with being a wife, mom of three and mother hen to all of the Northstar athletes, her tireless devotion to family is evident in the fact that Northstar welcomes cheerleaders from unfortunate backgrounds to cheer for free.

Faulkner first started Northstar Studios in 2008 shortly after her husband returned from a military tour in Iraq. Since then, the business has outgrown two studios to become what it is today: an 8,000 sq.-ft. space that plays home to five teams, 80 competitive athletes, 150 recreational athletes and a lot of community spirit. That spirit has been kicked up a notch lately, thanks to Faulkner’s latest accomplishment: being named “2014 Coach of the Year” by AmeriCheer and CheerProfessional.

As the 2014 Coach of the Year, you received some stellar nominations from Northstar Studio students, parents and staff members. How would you describe your coaching style?

Faulkner: Let me start by saying we have a pretty amazing staff—one thing that I really want to stress is that I could never have been successful without them. My role is more of the emotional aspect of cheerleading: to focus on the individual, to help those kiddos out there having a mental block. [If they’re] not secure or confident in what they’re doing, I strive to build them up and teach them about working together, overcoming obstacles and being their best. I play the more motherly role; I can tell when a kid had a bad day at school. I also hold my athletes to a high standard. Sometimes you have to yell at them and push them even though they don’t want to be pushed, but at the end of the day, I think they always realize it was worth it.

Why are you willing to sacrifice gym income to help athletes have the opportunity to cheer?

Faulkner: I [started NorthStar] as a way to get out of the house and never looked at it as a way to make a living. I wanted to share my passion of cheerleading with those around me and give my experience to girls who weren’t as fortunate. We have surrounding all-star cheerleading gyms that are probably hard for parents to afford, so my original mindset was to build something local where everybody has the opportunity to cheer. I try not to lose focus of that—I have a weak heart for the less fortunate. Several kids do come for free, and not everyone knows who they are. I love anyone who loves cheerleading, and I will do anything to help her or him be a part of it.

What is your advice for effectively connecting with and inspiring your clientele?

Faulkner: My advice for other coaches would be to stick to your core values and beliefs and standards that you hold for the athletes in your gym. Don’t stray from who you are and what you want the program to become. The right people will surround you and, with that, you’re bound to be successful. I constantly surround myself with the people who lift me higher; as a business owner, I don’t get caught up in the drama of the cheer world. I have times where I have to be both owner and coach. I coach every team at the gym. I run the business aspect of it during the day: meet with parents, do finances, keep in touch with office manager. At 4:30/5 pm, I am on the mat for the rest of the evening. The key is to continue doing what you love. For me, that was coaching. My mission is to touch the lives of those in my community and move on—after being named Coach of the Year, I smiled at myself and said, “That’s part of the mission.”

-Amanda Kennedy

Meet the first 10 Americheer/Ameridance/CheerProfessional Coach of the Year Finalists!

Meet the first 10 Americheer/Ameridance/CheerProfessional Coach of the Year Finalists!

What is a coach? Is a coach a leader, teacher, mentor or friend? If you ask the individuals who nominated their coaches, they’d say a coach is all of these traits and more. AmeriCheer and AmeriDance are partnering with CheerProfessional to award the Coach of the Year award at the AmeriCheer & AmeriDance InterNational Championship, held at Walt Disney World Resort®, on March 22-23, 2014.

“To celebrate 20 wonderful years of memories and magic at Disney, we wanted to do something special to commemorate this landmark event. We chose to honor 20 coaches, nominated by their peers, athletes, friends and family, with VIP treatment at our InterNational Championship,” said Elizabeth Rossetti, AmeriCheer & AmeriDance President and Founder.

At InterNationals, the 20 finalists will enjoy a luxurious limo ride to a private reception within the InterNational Victory Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There, they will gain access to the exclusive VIP Coaches Club tent and will receive custom jackets, a champagne toast and a bag full of goodies. One of the 20 finalists will be awarded Coach of the Year at the awards ceremony, held on March 23rd, and will be featured in an issue of CheerProfessional. The winner will also receive a custom Coach of the Year jacket, designer tote and invited back to InterNationals as a VIP guest in 2015.

“Each year we are proud to announce the Coach of the Year winner at our awards ceremony because at AmeriCheer & AmeriDance, we know how important coaches are to their teams,” explained Missy Richard, AmeriCheer & AmeriDance Brand Manager and National Event Coordinator. “Many of us have been coaches and we know how much time, effort and dedication it takes to be a coach; we want to celebrate the efforts these coaches haven given to their teams.”

10 of the 20 finalists have been selected, but 10 spots still remain. Do you know a coach who deserves to be on this list?  Download a nomination form by visiting AmeriCheer.com or AmeriDanceInc.com and submit it by March 1, 2014. In order for coaches to win, they and their team(s) must compete at the 2014 InterNational Championship. Register by calling 1-800-966-JUMP or download a registration form at any AmeriCheer family of brands websites. Show your coach how much they mean to you by nominating them for Coach of the Year.

10 of the 20 Finalists:

1. Cookie Jamison McGowan

School/Gym: Maximum Cheer All Stars

City/State: East Greenville, PA

Years Coaching: 25 years in Pop Warner, High School, College, and All Star

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Cookie made our first trip to America and attending the AmeriCheer InterNationals unforgettable with her constant support of the our team, the BCA Allstars.”

2. Amy Faulkner

School/Gym: North Star Studio

City/State: Sunbury, OH

Years Coaching: 20 years

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Amy’s leadership for all of her teams not only exemplifies her dedication to the sport and spirit of cheerleading, but also to the molding and shaping of young people into productive good citizens.”

 3. Kelli Marin

School/Gym: Spirit Enhancers

City/State: Portsmouth, VA

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Kelli’s vision and dedication have allowed her to transform inexperience young squads into confident, award-winning teams.”

4. Erica Brunow

School/Gym: Findlay High School Dance Team

City/State: Findlay, OH

Years Coaching: 10 years coaching Findlay High School Dance Team

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Erica demonstrates amazing coaching through her devotion to our team, her encouragement during our competitions and her ability to push our team to be our best not only in dance, but in our everyday lives.”

5. Brandy Horn

School/Gym: Pazazz All Star Cheer

City/State: Marion, IN

Years Coaching: 6 years

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Brandy is fair and impartial; she always does what’s best for the entire squad. She teaches them to respect one another and is a positive role model.”

6. Shannon Callen

School/Gym: Kalaheo High School Cheerleading

City/State: Kailua, HI

Years Coaching: 13 years

Quote From Nomination Submission: “From practices turning into late-night tutoring sessions, Shannon is our teacher, our strength, our confidant, and she never stops believing in our abilities, pushing us to achieve goals beyond our own expectations.”

7. Tammy Strouse

School/Gym: Rangeview High School Dance Team

City/State: Aurora, CO

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Tammy is an extraordinary coach; she always puts her team first and encourages them to be their best.”

8. Elsa Gomez

School/Gym: Notre Dame High School

City/State: Lawrenceville, NJ

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Elsa strives to make her team the best at every practice and every event.”


9. Jennifer Pulizzano

School/Gym: Wayne Valley High School

City/State: Wayne, NJ

Years Coaching:

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Jennifer is a great coach.  Her team knows how much time and dedication she gives to them and they work hard to make her proud.”

10. Julie Hallam

School/Gym: Titanium Athletics

City/State: New Freedom, PA

Quote From Nomination Submission: “Through thick and thin, good and bad, injuries, tears, excitement. . . Julie always has a positive attitude and is always there for her Bionic cheerleaders.”