When I tell people that my wife, Colleen, operates a cheerleading competition company here in Northwest Austin, I often get curious looks. Then come the questions.
Is it like high school athletics cheerleading? How do they judge the teams? Are people in Austin doing this?
Cheer America is actually more like Olympic gymnastics meets choreographed dance. It’s difficult to judge the teams — dozens of things factor in. And, yes, it’s probably a lot more popular sport than you may have thought.
Austin has 11 “All Star Cheer” gyms where young athletes learn to tumble, dance and assemble routines as a team. Ladd LeBus, who is a partner in Cheer America with Colleen, said that the number of people involved is often a surprise to newbies. There are five age divisions and six levels within each to create fair competition based on experience. That’s a lot of kids.
“In Austin, I can guarantee in every neighborhood there’s a cheerleader who is going to one of these 11 gyms,” Ladd said.
The teams put together 2 minute 30 second routines built to win competitions. And the rivalries can be fierce because contests occur across the country, and Texas alone has more than 100 gyms training teams to compete.
Cheer America’s Innovative New Competition Format
Colleen and Ladd have to constantly talk to contestants, coaches and parents to ensure their contests maintain an edge over dozens of other cheerleading competition companies. And they’ve come up with an exciting new way to experience the competitions.
At an upcoming event, Cheer America will drape a huge green screen across one end of the competition mat, the type of green screen used in Hollywood to put actors in imaginative new environments without leaving the studio. The dancers will be able to choose backdrops for their routines. It could be outer space, the middle of a dessert or in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Meanwhile, Cheer America will equip drones with video cameras to record the competition from unique angles. And parents, friends and fans around the globe can watch it live on the smartphones through the Periscope application.
I may be biased, but I think that is an innovative idea that could really bring these events to a new level of creativity and expose more viewers to the exciting competitions. But it’s the core of their business — customer service — that is at the heart of their excellent reputation in the industry.
“Our number one motto is that we are fair,” Ladd said. “There are no politics. Our judges are the most qualified out there. So when you come to Cheer America, you know you’ll be treated fair.”
I love telling friends and clients about Colleen’s work at Cheer America. For so many people, it’s an obscure sport. But, for many, once they start asking questions, they become more and more interested in watching the teams compete.
Even if it doesn’t replace your favorite sports, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at the level of talent our kids right here and Austin can display in one big, bold and energetic routine. It’s a blast!