Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today I am feeling so blessed! In 8 months a small little group has exploded to over 5,000 members.  This site has brought some wonderful people into my life. ..I am a lucky mom!  The future is bright for cheerleading and we, as parents, have voices that need to be heard! This is what Cheer Moms is…a place for you to find anything and everything you ever wanted to know about the world of cheerleading.

This week we will be rolling out a panel of experts that have graciously agreed to hop on board! From the best hair/makeup information to the leading experts in the fields of sports medicine, safety and training we have what you need to know! We have been incredibly blessed, yet again to have our experts coming on board with us this week!

First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Lisa and I am the co-founder of Cheer Moms, a site for parents of cheerleaders . You can find Cheer Moms! on our  Facebook page at along with our interactive site . We would love to have you join us.  You never know what you’ll find. There is everything under the sun from questions about good gym fits to finding the perfect spanks!

Honestly, I had thought my cheer days were behind me. I cheered while in school and taught gymnastics in central Illinois. Our daughter came into the world and I pretty much knew from the time she was a baby that she was a performer! The child would make a stage out of anything and demand your attention. My daughter and my son are my miracles. They made it into the world after a fight with infertility and their own problems at birth. Abby has hip dysplasia. She spent a very long time in various braces. As soon as she was cleared for sports, I enrolled her at our local All-Star gym. What an education I was in for!

I was a cheerleader….an old school cheerleader! Now we were in the world of All-Stars. My daughter was hooked and I was on board for my inaugural year as a cheer mom! I must say, it was quite the inauguration.  I had NO idea that I could write so many checks for one little girl! All-Star is expensive; there is no way around that one. I figured out quickly that if a fundraiser came my way, I better hop on it! Before I knew it, I was a team mom to a newly formed Mini team and took care of spirit and fundraising. I was totally immersed in being a cheer mom and LOVED it! I met some great people and every week I was amazed at what my daughter was learning!

By the end of the year, my daughter went from not being able to do a front roll to pulling a scorpion and doing her back walkover at our last competition. Mommy was proud! Along the way though, we had our share of scrapes and bumps...she learned how to fall gracefully, and I learned that not all moms played the nicest at times.  Gym politics was a learning curve to say the least.
At the end of her first year the gym went through a major overhaul and I ended up behind the desk working the business end and dealing with parents. My experience with our gym and All-Star Cheerleading has been a fabulous ride! Once I started working with our owner we sat several goals:
1.       A NO DRAMA gym.
2.       Increase our numbers and get our name out.
3.       Maintain a quality staff.
4.       Find better fundraising.
5.       Keep our parents informed as possible about what their child is doing and what is required of them.
6.       Have a great gym where the students are learning and having fun!

I have found that goals such as these require constant retooling. We spend a lot of time taking a look at what we are doing and how we can do it better. You are never going to have things 100% perfect, but you can definitely turn a gym around and make it a fabulous place to be. We scratch our heads constantly over how you can be in the same place for over four years and people STILL say they didn’t know you were there!  We are looking at the best way to spend advertising money as we speak.  It is a huge challenge in a small town.

This year I will again  be the mom of a crossover cheerleader. She will also be on the dance team for the first time. On the mom end I am constantly dealing with my own questions and concerns. Will she ever stretch out that  round off back handspring correctly? Is she at the gym too much? Will she burn out before she hits high school?  My questions are endless, as I am sure all parents are.  Add that to responsibilities at the gym and I am sure it will make for some hilarious blogs that can share some great information with cheer moms and gyms alike! I love a challenge…let’s just hope I keep my sanity in the process.
It is great to meet you all!

Co-Founder- Cheer Moms!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

So Much To Do & Talk About!

Oh blog how I have neglected you! 

Cheer Moms is busy...even if you can't tell it! We are lining up our guest experts and moms to write for our website launch with Cheer Channel. Nikki and I are organizing all the great new parts of the site. I don't think we realized how much work it would be! 

There is so much to write about...NCATA, the new competition season, some new training tips I have learned, and of course getting our team moms ready with their perfect team mom bag! :)

Next week we start our official fall session at the gym and have a good 20 new girls showing up next week!! It is my goal for next week to live through that and get them all in the right spots on the right night...and of course another week full of baseball. 

Then...I can blog. My mind has been so full lately, I just walk around with a notebook. 

Life is good! 


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Summer Worth Remembering

I usually don't write about my life & family, but this has been the summer for family. So here I go... a small peek into my world. 

I am a lucky to be a mom. What my husband and I went through to bring two children in this world was something I wouldn't wish upon anyone. A little over 10 years ago I brought home a beautiful, tiny 4.5 pound baby boy. He was and still is my miracle. It took me 4 years to bring him into the world. I had a perfect pregnancy and enjoyed every second of it. My son, on the other hand decided that we had waited long enough for his arrival and came into the world 6 weeks early after 42 hours of labor and an emergency c-section! He was so tiny and frail. When you come home with a preemie and have spent time in the NICU, you literally have a manual of do's and don'ts. If you weren't supposed to get it...we did. If it wasn't supposed to happen, it did. He had a rough first year and two surgeries by 18 months. Needless to say, he had my constant attention, affection and love! Through all of it he thrived and was quite the little fighter. 

About that time we went through infertility treatments again and had a daughter on the way. I almost lost her in the beginning, but thanks to the wonders of modern medicine I managed to carry her full term. I finally did it...a HEALTHY baby! I had her in the room with me at the hospital, not like the first time when I had to go visit my son. Well, she was with me, until they took her away for some "tests". She came back a few hours later with a orthopedist carrying a body brace and a diagnosis of hip dysplasia. I'll be honest. At the point all I could think was what the hell have I done?! This little baby was put into my arms all cinched up into a brace that made her look like a frog waiting to be dissected. We fought with braces and countless trips to Shriner's Hospital forever. She had to sleep with me because of the braces. If she were to manage to roll over in the night she could not roll back and could suffocate. I spent a year sleeping with my hand on her stomach to make sure she didn't roll. 

Here we are today!! At 4:00 I will be sitting at a ball game watching my son play his first game with his school team. He is finally old enough this year...not only is he playing, he is starting with the "big boys" in 8th grade. :) He has spent 7 years playing in the county league with mom and dad at every game.  I couldn't be prouder. He couldn't be more nervous! I won't tell him, but I will be holding my breath the majority of the time. 

My daughter, who spent so much time in braces did her first solo standing back handspring last week! I squealed right along with her. It was her goal for the summer and she made it with a week to spare. :) 

I have spent the summer going to endless baseball games, working at the gym at the desk and spotting handspring after handspring at home. I have talked both of them through their "I hate is NEVER going to work" times and celebrated with them when it finally did.

Cheer Moms hasn't been updated daily, or had a flurry of posts, but I had a wonderful summer. I just enjoyed being MOM. It was fabulous! I must admit, they are starting to get bored and might kill each other any day now. I resorted to raft fights int he pool with them yesterday to keep the peace. School starts next week which will mean less time with the kids and more time  on a tight schedule. 

I have work starting to stack up....with Cheer Moms right at the top of the list. I have 6 more days to enjoy summer and the kids. I will see you in a week! I'll be posting the latest info, QODs, a new directory of gyms, and some interviews with coaches.....but it is going to wait just six more days, 3 practices at the gym and 3 baseball games. :)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I am working on a comprehensive list of fundraising ideas for a blog. If you have any favorites please leave a comment or email me a! I am also working on a series of interviews of coaches for our Cheer Moms. Do you have any burning questions?

The last two weeks have been a blur. I have worked on the house was a mess and needed total reorganization of the house. We had a week long break from the gym, which was nice. It gave me time to fit in a quick trip to see family and work on the house project. 

This week I am back to reality. :) I am getting excited watching our teams learn awesome new skills, they should really shine this year! The gym is growing by leaps and bounds, big kudos to our owner who has put a lot of work into the look of the gym. I walked in last night and thought I was in a different place! 

Cheer Moms is definitely on a roll. I know we keep talking about surprises, but any day now we will have one! We are working hard to get ready for the competition season. We will also be doing feature gyms in addition to the directory, and interview series. The future is looking bright! 

For now, I am off to work. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heel Marks On the Wall, Balls Through The Windows and More Random Thoughts!

It is always so nice to sneak away for a few days. Locked in the car with kids gives you much time to think about things! 

Today the kids are moving slowly, recovering from non-stop fun with their cousins, which is a nice break for this mom. I spent the majority of my car time getting everything in order for the gym so we are ready to roll like a fine tuned instrument once the season gets hopping! I have a form for everything..... at least I think I do. I am sure something will pop up and I will not be ready. Honestly I am still pretty green at all the paperwork!

As I was trying to think ahead and get the office end of the gym in order, I realized my house is still in need of order. I get started.....then something else comes along and takes my attention away from the things I really do not want to do. I have heel marks on the hallway walls from endless handstands. The window people have made their visit to the house to fix a ball through a window. It seems so irritating at the time, but I realized this time in their lives is a time they will always remember. The endless days of summer, handstands on the wall, balls through the windows, swimming and the carelessness of being a child. 

So this week I am continuing my semi vacation from Cheer Moms. The house is going to get some much needed attention. A home office is tops on the list....and I just might paint those heel marks on the walls! 

First though, I think the kids and I are sneaking off to spend a day at the zoo, and see how much swimming we can accomplish in one week!

Enjoy you summer fellow Cheer Moms.....we will be back to the grind before you know it! Secretly, I can't wait for the season to start! Cheerleading, baseball and football all at the same time! 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Should We Care About Varsity?

Why should we even care about Varsity? It is just a business right? I would have said that myself a couple months ago. I had no idea of Varsity’s reach, their involvement in the world of cheerleading. Now that I have done my research, I fear what I originally saw as a simple company, is far more than that.


 -Showtime, Penn & Teller, 2010

Jeff, do you really mean it?! I thought we were no more a sport than CHESS? Seriously Jeff, you are confusing me. Want to try to wiggle out of this some more?

Everything evolves over time. Cheerleading has definitely evolved. Today, your typical cheerleader is not simply an ambassador that yells chants and shakes pom-poms. They are athletes that compete. They compete in a sport. Ask any school cheerleader what they want. I bet you they will say to WIN! Sure, they enjoy cheering on the sidelines and supporting the teams of their school, but today’s cheerleader is a different animal all together. I cheered for my time when I was a cheerleader. What I did over 20 years ago is NOT what cheerleaders are doing today. Just as cheerleading has evolved, I think it is time for the schools, states, collegiate system and Title IX to evolve also. Can we truly risk the rules and regulations not evolving at the pace the skills are?

The 10K SEC document filed by Varsity on 3/31/03 tells us what they are concerned about! Read this carefully!

“However, if rules limiting off-season training are applied to cheerleading and/or dance teams similar to rules imposed by the NCAA on some inter-collegiate sports, it could under certain circumstances, have a material adverse affect of Varsity’s business, financial condition and results of operations. Although we are not aware of any school officially adopting these activities as a competitive sport, recognition of cheerleading and/or dance teams as  sport would increase the possibility that cheerleader or dance activities may become regulated.

At the high school level, some state associations have classified cheerleading as a sport and in some cases have imposed certain restrictions on off season practices and out of state travel to competitions. However, in all cases to date, we have been able to work with these state athletic associations to designate acceptable times for the cheerleaders within these states to attend camps. We have also signed agreements with several state associations to assist with sponsoring and executing official competitions within these states. To date, state regulations have not had a material effect on our ability to conduct our normal business activities.”

WAIT! What? Do you mean to tell me that you have been worrying and planning over this “issue” for 7 years now? Also, if this Cheer Mom is reading correctly, you put up a  friendly stop sign every single time a high school or college takes a step forward to recognizing cheerleading as a sport! I doubt they really realize it. It is easy for them and it works. This just doesn’t add up.

Varsity has their hands in:
1.      Uniforms
2.      Camp apparel and accessories
3.      Choreography
4.      Running of camps
5.      Training of coaches
6.      Training of gym owners
7.      Owning of cheer gyms
8.      Running of competitions
9.      Training of judges
10.  Making of the rules
11.  Governing of the rules

They also have special relationships with:
1.      NCAA
2.      NFHS
3.      All 50 state athletic associations
4.      All 50 state cheer associations
5.      Safety organizations
6.      World competitions

They have MULTI MILLION dollar contracts with:
1.      Disney
2.      ESPN

THEY HAVE 75% of the market share!!!  I am starting to think it would be way easier to write about what Varsity is NOT involved in.

So Cheer Moms, it is almost impossible for us to even attend anything involved with cheerleading and not be hand in hand with Varsity. I had someone mention planning a year of competitions with no involvement with Varsity. Guess what? It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE ladies!! Varsity has made this so simple for us that we can write one big, fat check to them for everything from our gym fees down right down to the admission we pay to get to SEE OUR OWN CHILDREN at competitions. Oh, wait, we pay for those also don’t we? You better add that onto your check too.

“Cheerleading would be less safe if made a sport.”
            -Jim Lords, Executive Director of AACCA
            -Washington Post

WHAT? Did someone drop him on his head a few times? I honestly think he is more confused than I have been for the last several days wading through the muck of this mess. Give me a break!

Currently, without sports recognition this is what you get:
o   No regulations.
o   More control from companies…i.e. VARISTY
o   Increased profits for…..come on, take a guess!
o   NO height restrictions on basket tosses
o   Stunts are allowed on gym floors, asphalt and grass.
o   The rules are not clearly defined.
o   There are NO enforcement mechanisms to hold anyone responsible for ANYTHING!
o   According to the AACCA manual spring floors are considered height increasing apparatus instead of a safety device!
o   According to over 2/3 of cheerleading coaches have no certifications.
o   Without regulation, means no enforced safety plans.
o   Amazingly, no Varsity competition has ever reported any catastrophic injury.

-Courtesy of National Cheer Safety Institute

Is it just me, or do you find it ironic that cheerleading is a female dominated sport and these are all men? Do you see one single woman that makes a decision at Varsity? I find that extremely interesting. Our cheerleading expert Greg Webb, sits on the board of The Women’s Sports Foundation. Is your brain hurting as much as mine is right now? If he sits on this board, and he is a cheerleading expert, why isn’t he advocating that cheerleading be recognized as a sport? Why do we want to come up with new NAMES for what we do?  Hold on, it is coming to me….I think I have it! If we come up with yet another variation of cheer just think of the possibilities!!! Varsity would have a ball! They could start a whole other army of companies. They could CHEER all the way to the bank. You know just as well as I do, that a cheerleader that loves to cheer is NOT going to just do one part of cheer.  Just think of what they stand to gain, and gain, and gain. Think of what your athlete stands to LOSE.

I made a little graph for you. Well actually, it is not very little, but it is informative!

This, my friends, is Varsity. They own, financially support or have a strong say in every single one of these companies. I will provide all the hyperlinks to the websites, you can check the facts! If you click around enough you will end up at Varsity. Actually, Varsity is in the title of most of these web addresses.

I do want to say that I do not think Varsity is the root of all evil. They have helped cheerleading evolve at a rapid pace. They have many initiatives that I am in complete agreement with. I just can’t agree with playing both sides of the fence. The fence jumping is getting old.

The bottom line is this. Varsity stands to lose if cheerleading is recognized as a sport. They will no longer be able to monopolize grade school, high school and college cheerleading.  THE NCAA will take over the collegiate end of cheerleading and the states will take over the rest. There will be ONE national champion per division, not 66. States will have state championships just like basketball, football, etc. Cheerleading will be afforded the same courtesies that other sports at schools are afforded. They will have designated, appropriate practice areas, regulations, coaches will need knowledge of the sport and safety, with recognized, agreed upon rules! These rules will be made by a “body”, not a company.  In my opinion a state or national body that has no corporate input is going to be more apt to be advocates for the athletes of the sport. I have been fortunate enough to meet so many new people that would jump at the chance to be on a board like that!  This is why we see Varsity talking out of both sides of their mouths saying cheerleading is a sport, then turning right around and saying it isn't.

I have come full circle, back to the original question I blogged about last week. What do I want to accomplish? I want cheerleading to be fully recognized for what it is. I want it to become safer for our youth. I also want to see cheerleading, as an industry, open up to other businesses and MINDS. Simply put, I want more voices to be heard than just ONE. Schools, states and independent gyms, I beg you to open up your eyes and see what is going on around you! Be an advocate for change! Be an advocate for our youth! I look at all this information and I start to imagine an octopus with all its arms practically strangling our cheerleaders! 

Cheer Moms will become an advocate for better training, safety and fairness for all cheerleaders. If we find a group that promotes these goals, then we will promote them with all we have. We also invite any independent company that sells quality products or promotes quality cheer competitions to send us your link. Let us feature you!  

As always, 
Just a Cheer Moms Opinion!

What do YOU think? 

*You can click on any graphic to view it full screen. 

The Varsity Brands

ACP – American Cheer Power
UCA – Universal Cheerleaders Association
WSF – World Spirit Foundation 
ACA – American Cheerleading Association
SS – Spirit Sports
AACCA – American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators
ASC – All Star Challenge
NDA – National Dance Alliance
UDA – Universal Dance Association   
O. – Ozone
VU – Varsity Uniforms 
VSF – Varsity Spirit Fashions              
V!ROC – Varsity! Remarkable Original Choreography
VBI – Varsity Brands, Inc.
CDT – Cheerleader & Danzteam
SC – Spirit Cheer          
C –             
VTV – Varsity TV        
USASF – United States All Star Federation
CTC – Cheerleading Technique Camps
IALC – International All-Levels Championship
SXC – Spirit Xpress Cheerleading       
TAC – The American Championships              
NCSSE – National Council for Spirit Safety & Education
NCA – National Cheerleaders Association
AC – Athletic Championships             
USA – United Spirit Association 
Premier Athletics                                              
OSiP – Organization of Industry Providers    
USA Japan
Intropa Tours   
International Logo Inc.
IASF – International All Star Federation
International Cheer Union        
Norway Cheer           
Varsity Brands Holding

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Penn & Teller Episiode

For those of you who haven't seen the show, here it is!

You do NOT want to watch this with children present. :)

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