On "cheer" day Kate beams as she rushes home from first grade, scrambles into her sports top and shorts, hops in the car with her mom and heads to Mt. Juliet's only competitive cheer facility.
Mom, Julie Plummer, said Kate, 6, has always loved everything about cheering, but she couldn't find a cheer facility near their home.
When CheerVille opened a facility in Mt. Juliet, she was elated and quickly signed Kate up on a competitive team for her age group. She said Kate has a blast, and cheer practice and competitions are two of her favorite things in her young world.
Her team name is called "Grinches," though these young ladies are far from "Grinchy," but instead are full of energy and laser focused, determined and, yes, quite competitive (in a friendly, good way)!
"Cheerleading is awesome!" this beyond cute cheerleader said. "My favorite parts are being in front of a crowd and cheering with my friends. Coach Courtney is the best!"
Kate and all the students at CheerVille Mt. Juliet not only like their coaches, they adore co-founder Katie Lindsey. She and B.J. Linderberger opened a Cheerville in Hendersonville in April 2013.
"We opened the Mt. Juliet location and another in Bowling Green, Kentucky, April of last year," said the mother of two young girls.
Yes, of course they cheer.
"When both my daughters, Olivia, 9 and Lindsey, 8, turned 2 years old they began cheering," Katie said. "They spend almost every day at the gym after school and most weekends. They still have maintained straight A's every report card. We adapted to the life. We don't know any other life than cheer gym life. It's who we are, not just what we do!"
Teach what you know
"I did cheer through middle school, high school and at Middle Tennessee State University," said Katie, who looks young enough to still be in college.
Her golden, youthful looks belie her strong business sense and years of experience in the sport she describes as her "passion."
Her life has been about cheering since she made that middle school cheer squad in 1989.
"Every year since then I have either participated or been a coach."
Katie started coaching 22 years ago at age 16. B.J. cheered at UNC-Charlotte and was also a member of the National Champion team at University of Louisville where he cheered two years and coached for the university the following year.
Katie said she ran a strong competitive program in Hendersonville (her home town) for eight years before she had the opportunity to open her first Cheerville in Hendersonville.
Why Mt. Juliet location?
As Plummer explained her dilemma of not being able to find a close competitive cheer facility, others felt the same way. Katie said she opened the Mt. Juliet CheerVille when she noticed so many families driving from Wilson County to her Hendersonville location for training. She now shares the new Mt. Juliet location with Intrigue Gymnastics.
"We knew they were hungry for the CheerVille style of training," she explained. "This season we had three teams in Mt. Juliet, and each team has had a tremendous amount of success for their first year. What sets us apart from the rest of the cheer programs is that our coaches bring experience from all different areas of the country and are highly credentialed."
The CheerVille team members are industry experts when it comes to training athletes and setting up routines. That's what Mt. Juliet families are so excited about.
"As parents, we are thankful that CheerVille Athletics decided to open a local competitive cheerleading facility close to home for our daughter, Kate," said Chris Plummer. "The experience thus far has been well-organized and exceeded our expectations. Having a competitive cheer program in Wilson County is ideal as it gives these athletes every opportunity to succeed... from the choreography, solid coaching, presentation and performances, CheerVille Athletics is top-notch, and we're proud to be part of this cheer family!"
Mt. Juliet Cheerville cheer training destination
These days, the facility has families traveling from places as far away as Putnam and Rutherford counties to train at in Mt. Juliet.
"This location has seen the biggest growth over the past year, and we are thrilled to see so many people who want to be apart of the CheerVille success," Katie said. "That's one of the benefits of our business is that we draw from other counties to support local business in Wilson County."
Unlike sports like soccer and baseball, competitive cheer is a year-round sport. They cut back training during the summer and practice just once a week, with a camp right before school starts back.
"Our sport is just like any other professional sport," Katie said. "If you take a break from training you have to spend extra time getting back to where you were."
"If you don't use it, you lose it," is their motto at the gym. Just like gymnasts training for the Olympics, they get out of their training what they put into it; thus, a year-round sport.
Why cheer over other sports?
"This is the best sport to teach teamwork lessons that carry throughout life," Katie noted. "They become better employees because cheer has taught them to be dependable. They become better students because they understand the importance of time management.
"They learn to be independent because they aren't always with their parents to speak for them. Our policy is to let the athlete speak first and then address concerns with parents. We want them to know how to speak up for themselves."
Not every challenge is easy, and cheerleading teaches you when you fail, you keep trying. And most importantly, cheering is a team sport, and they must work together for true success.
Katie said cheerleading is a growing sport, and one reason is college scholarship opportunities. Many of her students will continue to cheer in college, and there are many scholarships for all levels of experienced athletes.
"You just have to know which schools you would be a good candidate to cheer," advised Katie. "CheerVille helps guide athletes to which of their school choices would be best for them."
CheerVille also offers non-travel teams
Many people only hear about the travel competitive teams. However, CheerVille also offers non-travel competitive teams that only practice one a week and are less of a financial commitment. Gym Manager William Carvers and Parent Relations Coordinator Courtney Pratt both work hard in offering something for everyone at CheerVille.
They currently have Super Hero training classes for our younger boys and girls. They also train school teams and helped Mt. Juliet Middle and Walter J. Baird Middle win national titles this year. The parents love the monthly fundraisers Katie offers to help pay for classes. She also feels it's important for their athletes to be involved in community events such as the Sherry's Run.
All levels of training
They start at level 1 and go all the way up to level 6.
"My favorite aspect of competitive cheer is that even if you are a beginner, you can still be the most successful team in the gym," Katie said. "Just this weekend our level 1 and 2 teams took home bids to compete at the Summit in Orlando, Florida. Only 10 percent of the cheer teams in the world are invited to this event. You don't have to be at the highest level to receive the most prestigious awards."
Their level 5 team was invited to compete at the World Championships
Passion makes work schedule fun
People ask Katie all the time, "how do you do it all?" She said it's a "big job," but her management staff and coaches are her biggest supporters. "Team work makes the dream work," is another of her famous mottos.
"As much as I love running the gyms behind the scenes I still have a passion for coaching," Katie said. "I also have two children of my own who cheer on multiple teams in the program. Watching them grow into not only talented athletes, but more responsible well-rounded young ladies is why I do what I do."
She watches athletes graduate from their program with the life skills they need to be better college students, employees, and teammates because of what CheerVille and coaches taught them.
"It's so much more than just cheerleading. That is what drives my passion!"
CheerVille has tryouts in Mt. Juliet on May 13 for the next season's team. They attend five to seven events every season. You can find more information at www.CheerVille.com or by calling the gym at (615) 543-1909.
Writer Laurie Everett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.