Although All Star competitive cheerleading is a year-round sport, competition season really starts to ramp up in the spring. Some local cheerleading gyms are sending teams to major competitions this month.
Skip Headings, owner of Fame All Stars PA, is sending three travel teams from his State College gym and three teams from his Lewistown gym to the Battle at the Capitol this weekend at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
“Teams from all over the country will be at the Battle at the Capitol. It’s the biggest cheer event on the East Coast,” Headings said.
Headings said his gym will also be sending teams to the northeast finals of “The One” in Virginia Beach, Va., and to Cheer and Dance Extreme’s “Finale” event at Kalahari Resort in the Poconos, both in April.
Another local gym, Superstar Athletics in Bellefonte, is sending three teams to this weekend's UCA International All Star Championships in Orlando, Fla. Owner T.J. Banas is optimistic they also will be sending a team to the Cheerleading Worlds competition, also to be held in Orlando at the end of April.
Headings has been coaching cheerleading since he started a local team called Wildcat All Stars 20 years ago, and has been the head coach of the Bellefonte High School cheerleading team for 13 years. Four years ago, he decided to merge his All Star team with Fame All Stars.
“When I had Wildcat, I was taking my little teams to competitions and seeing these huge gyms being so successful,” Headings said. “I decided to join Fame to make our program better and to give us resources we could get from the bigger gyms. Fame has nine gyms across the United States, and even a gym in the U.K. It’s a huge resource for us.”
One of the benefits of being a part of a larger enterprise is that it helps to reduce some of the costs associated with what Headings said is an expensive sport.
“In my 20 years of coaching, I’ve seen the cost of everything go up so much, from the entrance fees to the music to the uniforms,” Headings said. “But because Fame has so many kids involved, we can get a really good deal.
“We try to find ways to keep the costs down for everybody. We have a machine to make hair bows; we make them here and they cost a lot less than what most people have to pay for them. We can make our own shirts here and add our own bling to the uniforms, too, and that keeps the costs down.”
Formerly housed in an industrial park near Home Depot in State College, Fame All Stars moved to a new location, 511 E. College Ave. in Pleasant Gap, in September. The State College Fame gym has 120 members, Headings said, some of whom travel from DuBois, Brockway, Altoona, Newport and Clearfield to be coached at his gym.
“If they’re coming that far, they’re coming for a reason,” he said. “We want them to be comfortable here. It’s kind of a like a second home for them. We take the kids and make them our passion. It’s about more than the sport.”