At this stage in her cheer career, Jackie Lindom does it all. Besides managing the Twisters Elite Cheer & Dance Gym in Lake Villa, Ill., Lindom also coaches, helps with choreography for various teams and judges for Xtreme Spirit and several rec competitions. (Oh, and she is just 21 years old.) Having been a cheerleader since age five, Lindom made the transition from competitor to coach/gym manager shortly after competing at Worlds in 2010 and has continued to expand her role—inside the gym and out—throughout the years.
As yet another busy season comes to a close, we caught up with Lindom amid her jam-packed schedule to discuss her career, her balance techniques and her affinity for the sport.
How did you make the transition from athlete to cheer professional?
Lindom: As an athlete during my last three years cheering (up until when I was 18), I was always helping out at the gym. My coach on Senior 5 brought me up and transitioned me into the coaching aspect. I worked my way up and coached the Tiny Team for two years, then coached minis while still on Senior 5. After I competed in Worlds in 2010, they hired me [as an employee]. Just being in the gym and learning under my Senior 5 coach taught me everything I needed to know. I’m passionate about my job.
Share more about your various roles and how much time they each take.
Lindom: My number one [focus] right now is Twisters. I pay most of my attention to the gym, making sure it is running smoothly and that the athletes are doing everything they should. I am still very much involved in choreography, traveling all over the place for school and rec teams. I also helped out with skill clinics over the summer; we hosted one at Twisters, and Gabie Dinsbeer, Erica Englebert and a few other “cheerlebrities” came in. I got to work side-by-side with the best of the best. I also judge every weekend. (I didn’t have a free weekend from February through Memorial Day!)
What are your tips on balancing various facets of a cheer career?
Lindom: I just like to go with the flow. I am always just crazy busy; it’s normal [for me]. I do take on a lot, but I get it over with and do the best I can.
What do you think would help improve the competition experience on both sides (for judges and teams)?
Lindom: I think overall, all judges should be trained better on the [specific] scoresheet that they are judging from. I know there are coaches and judges who judge across the board for [various] companies, but I don’t think that some of them have the best knowledge on [every] scoresheet. More training is necessary.
What issue seems to come up often with parents in your gym, and what’s your top tip for handling it?
Lindom: There are always parents complaining or getting into drama with the other parents. I try to stay out of drama, and I handle each situation differently. Some require immediate attention; others fizzle out a little bit [over time]. Parents are irritated at that moment and they want to snap at you, [but ultimately] it’s not that big of a deal.
What makes the hard work worth it?
Lindom: As a coach, I’m passionate about seeing my athletes on stage—it’s a breath of fresh air. They practice so hard to be on the mat for 2.5 minutes, and [the reward is] seeing all their hard work pay off.