Competitive cheerleading is hard work. We’ve all seen teams of girls flipping and dancing, then tossing each other high into the air and finishing these stunts with awe capturing pyramids. But how? What sort of work happens behind the scenes that can take an, often times, young group of athletes and turn them into the high energy teams we finally see? Training an all-star cheer team to move in sync and with grace requires excellent planning, coaching, and dedication. Many gyms have been started with the intention of providing opportunities to develop personal skills, produce highly competitive squads, and of course, for fun. Unfortunately, in Simpsonville several gym startups over the years have struggled and eventually folded.
Like any small business, starting a new gym, growing it, and maintaining it successfully is not for the faint of heart. Gina Bell moved to Simpsonville recently, but came with a vision. She wanted to start a cheer gym where the athletes were the focus, the structure was professional, the coaches were experienced, and the teams would win. “My goal was to begin with at least ten girls,” Gina said. In August of 2018, Valor Cheer began with more than twice that number. Since then the gym is on track with her original vision. More than thirty girls comprise two teams, and the teams are winning. Out of five competitions the teams have competed in, they have won four, finishing as grand champions. This is unheard of! They recently won a one hundred percent bid to a national competition in Jacksonville, FL coming up in May.
Mrs. Bell said, “Our success is due to our family environment. Competitive cheer requires the athletes’ whole heart and dedication. A dance team can handle missing a dancer or two from practice, but when you are performing pyramids, one person not making practice makes the routine impossible.” While Valor Cheer is focused on the individual athlete, they are very careful about who makes the team. Cheer at this level is a sacrifice for the girls and their families. The practices, travel, and resources required to produce a winning team are not for everyone. But this winning formula has created a waiting list of athletes ready to sign up. In fact, this approach has not only brought about winning teams, but twenty six of the girls had never been involved in cheer before at all.
“We receive calls every day from parents and students that want to be a part of Valor,” said Mrs. Bell. And thanks to the success of the girls and the overwhelming interest in Valor, this year they plan to add three more teams, including multiple levels and two high school half year teams. Currently, Valor has a close relationship with Hillcrest High School’s cheer program. The gym has six coaches, but will be adding more, and employs a well-known local choreographer, Demario Pendergrass. “Mario is amazing and put together a routine that placed us at the highest level of competition,” said Mrs. Bell.
Valor Cheer is powered by Palmetto Gymnastics, their home gym location and partner. The gym is located in Simpsonville, SC and has its own website. Valor Cheer has great momentum, and while there is currently a waiting list, they are making strides to accommodate the increasing interest. On May 11th, Valor will be hosting an open house for families to see for themselves what makes the gym so special. There will be lots of information, an opportunity to meet the coaches, and a time for Q&A. Then on May 18th and 19th, tryouts for the new teams will be held. For more information, visit valorcheer.com.♦
- By Gina Bell