Today’s feature was very interesting for me (Anthony Crosby). You see, each AAT article is assigned two or three “tags” that can be found under every entry’s title. These tags help categorize this site’s blog posts just in case you (the reader) would like to check out more features that have to do with similar topics or themes. I went to put today’s feature under a tag that had to do with something sports related, and I discovered I had never had to make one before! Yes, I’ve talked to martial artists and golfers, but in the year and a half of AAT’s existence, this will be our first time highlighting people involved with a team sport! This is something worth cheering over!
This week, we dropped in to talk with Steph Tyree and Dannielle Turner. These two very legit ladies own and coach at Maverick All-Star Elite. What is that, you ask? Maverick All-Star Elite is Elko’s only cheer gym that exclusively offers All-Star Cheer without also having some base in competitive dance. Think of All-Star Cheer as the peak of the eighteen and under competitive cheerleading world.
Steph, Dannielle, thank you for joining us today! Can you please share a bit about each of your cheer histories and how you came to open a gym together?
Steph: “I’ve lived in Elko since 2006, so for most of my life! I cheered all through middle school and high school. I’ve always loved cheerleading, and I’ve worked at a few gyms around Elko. I moved away for a while, but when I came back, I was offered the job of taking over the cheer program at High Desert when it was open. We did a year of cheer there in the dance circuit. It was a whole different world from what we wanted to be doing, so that’s when we discovered All-Star Cheer. I’m a very competitive person and this program speaks to that aspect of my nature. We discovered All-Star Cheer about four years ago, and there’s been no going back!”
Dannielle: “I was born in Reno, but I moved here (Elko) when I was three, so I’ve basically been here my entire life. I have two kids, and the competitive world has really spoken to their father and me, big time. We want to teach the kids how to have a good work ethic, work hard, and have positive outlets. I was a competitive soccer player growing up, so I put my daughter in that because I wanted to pass that down to my children, but she was the kid out doing cartwheels on the field. So, I realized soccer might not be for her, so I put her in a tumbling class. I found myself fascinated by her class, and finally, someone brought up competitive cheer. She tried out and was on the dance circuit Steph mentioned, but it was just not competitive enough, so we reached out to High Desert and got her into the All-Star circuit. We couldn’t get enough of it! While we were there, they made a post about the fact that they needed a coach. I interviewed, got the job, and then Steph and I ended up working at Silver State Dance this last year together before finally deciding to start something ourselves!”
Steph: “I was actually going to take a break from coaching for a bit because I was about to start a new job, but out of nowhere we decided we were going to open our own gym! I’m excited about it because I’m very passionate about helping the girls and guys grow. We want to be the space for kids who take cheer seriously; we even have kids who want to go to college for cheer or make a career out of it!”
Now, I started this feature by talking about how this article is AAT’s first one centered around a team sport. Some people may be confused as to why I’m even categorizing cheerleading as such. What would you say to the baffled reader who thought cheering was only something done on the sides to pump up the crowd during a football or basketball game?
Steph: “The assumption is that cheer is all about standing on a sideline and chanting with pom-poms. However, it really is a sport! It’s so much a sport that the Olympics finally recognize it is a sport, and we have a U.S. team! So, we’re officially a sport, people! These kids are athletes and are probably in some of the best shape out of anybody I know! They’re putting in six to nine hours of practice a week, they’re doing stamina training, and conditioning their bodies. In fact, when you look at the statistics, cheer injuries are often on par with those of traditional contact sports because it is a contact sport!”
Dannielle: “Yes! Our girls do look cute when they’re out there, but it’s so much more than that! Our girls must be dedicated because it can be very demanding. If even one person is not there when it’s time to practice or compete, then the rest of it won’t work.”
Thank you for giving us a better understanding of the sport, coaches! What is it that you love most about your passion?
Dannielle: “I love going out there and watching our team hit zero because that means our team didn’t get any deductions! A zero is great!”
Steph: “For me, it’s seeing the growth of the kids throughout a season. You’ll start with kids who struggle to do a stunt, but by the end of the season, it has become like second nature to them. Also, I love the relationships I get to build with all the kids; they’re like my little children! I know more about thirteen-year-olds and what they’re doing with their lives than anybody probably should! You get to build a bond with them.”
What is one of the more challenging aspects of being involved with cheer?
Steph: “To be extremely blunt, this is an expensive sport. It is not cheap to do All-Star Cheer. This is something you must be so dedicated to. I’ve had girls with the flu on the floor performing at a competition and then walking off the mat to throw up.”
Dannielle: “Yes, I agree, and we do try and help families with the expenses because we understand. We’ll go out and fundraise and get the community involved because we want to help in any way we can.”
Is there anything you would like to see come to fruition as you two move forward with building a competitive cheer culture in this community?
Steph: “What I would like to see is more recognition for the sport and understanding what the difference is between a high school cheer program and what we’re doing. With that being said, I love Elko because the community loves to embrace people and wants our kids to be successful.”
Dannielle: “I would love to get the kids out in the community more, so people can get a better understanding of what we are. It would be cool for Elko to understand the fact that we are different, but the more that we get out there, the more we’re going to be able to educate people and get some of them excited to join us!”
Fantastic! Finally, is there anything you want the people to know about Maverick Elite All-Star before we let you two get back to coaching?
Steph: “We are open, and we’re accepting new athletes, boy or girls, at any skill level! Our team placements are coming up (July 14th), and we’re accepting kids five to eighteen. Eventually, we’ll be accepting kids three to five for our half-year team.”
Dannielle: “We are a USASF (U.S. All-Star Federation) gym. Steph and I are credentialed, and we have the equipment and staff to make teams successful!”
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See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill