The spirit of competition is strong for cheerleaders of all ages, said one Ahwatukee Foothills resident, and her goal is to open up the sport to more athletes and reduce some of the nerves that are associated with coming in new.
Jennifer Lannon, owner of Arizona All-Stars Tumbling and Cheer in Tempe, has been a cheer instructor for years. Along with owning the business since 2002 - they are celebrating their 10th anniversary in April - she has coached the cheer teams at both Coronal del Sol and Mountain Pointe high schools.
Her passion, really, is to promote competition and help young girls as they grow up. She has performers as young as 4, and as old as 19.
"My pride comes from helping them build their self esteem," Lannon said. "A lot of girls want to be cheerleaders and some are intimidated by the skill level. But my motto is, ‘No experience, no problem.' Everybody has to start somewhere."
She is hosting the seventh annual Spring it On Cheer competition at Mountain Pointe on Saturday, which will include more than 800 performers and 70 performances. Teams with students of all ages are coming from around the state to compete, including Buckeye and Page.
Spring it On Cheer is open to the public and Lannon said it is a great way to introduce new people to the sport, by watching what is possible with hard work.
"It's a great opportunity for girls who want to be cheerleaders to see the best of the best," Lannon said. "They train pretty darn hard for this and will put on an excellent performance."
At Arizona All-Stars Tumbling and Cheer, there are six competitive teams that compete regularly during the season. Due to a rule enacted by the Arizona Interscholastic Association in 2009, high school students cannot compete in competitions both with their high school and with private, or All-Star, teams at the same time. That doesn't keep high school teams from training at Lannon's business, of which she said she has 10 teams that train in cheer and tumbling throughout the year.
"They are two totally different things (AIA and All-Stars), but they won't let you do both," Lannon said. "The AIA state tournament is next weekend and this Saturday's competition gives them one more opportunity to be judged before they go to state."
The competition will be from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Mountain Pointe High School, 4201 E. Knox Road, and is open to the public. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $5 for seniors and students with ID. It is free for kids under 5 years old.
Lannon will be recruiting girls to try out and compete in Liverpool, England, in June 2012. They must be between 12 and 18 years old. She will be hosting an informational meeting at Arizona All-Stars Tumbling and Cheer, 7425 S. Harl Ave., on Feb. 17. Tryouts are March 4.
To find out more about Arizona All-Star Tumbling and Cheer, call (480) 831-1105 or visit www.azallstars.com.
Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or firstname.lastname@example.org