Cheering on youngsters who wish to cheer is the purpose of "All in Cheer".
Tiffin resident and former cheerleader Kari Steele started the organization after realizing there was nowhere to take her own daughters. She also wanted to offer all children who wished to participate in cheerleading an opportunity to do so.
"The main thing is that I want everybody to be able to participate. I don't want anyone to feel that they are an outcast if they can't be in a squad," Steele said. "Here, everybody is included. Everybody gets a chance to do it.
PHOTO BY CATHY WILLOUGHBY
Steele’s daughter’s Alexis, 12, a cheerleader for Tiffin Middle School, and Chloe, 4, model the uniforms of All in Cheer.
"There was nowhere to take my daughters to cheer," she added. "It was not worth it to me, I couldn't justify it if I can teach it myself."
Steele and assistant coach Lindsay Snyder have extensive cheerleading and dance backgrounds. Steele began dancing at age 2 or 3, progressing to ballet and tap, cheering for Little League teams, then junior and high school squads. She continued cheering for Tiffin University, has helped with Columbian cheerleading and worked with students at Dance Unlimited. She also worked for the All American Youth Association, coaching cheer for three seasons before deciding to start her own company.
Snyder began cheerleading in junior high, then through high school at Hopewell-Loudon and for two additional years for the Coast Guard Academy.
One of the benefits of having an assistant, she said, was to give the youngsters someone else to watch and model their cheers after.
Sessions are divided into five groups: Tiny Tots, ages 2-3; Pee-Wee, ages 4-6; Juniors, ages 7-9; Seniors I, ages 10-13; and Seniors II, ages 14-17.
Tiny Tots are limited to six per class, and two classes at the same skill level will be offered each week. Other classes are to be offered once a week.
There will be three sessions a year - fall, winter and spring.
The goal is to teach the basics of cheerleading, jumps, motions, motion drills, flexibility and proper eating habits. Senior classes will learn the rules of football and basketball.
Steele has been spreading the word to gather support and registrations, and has been pleased with the results so far.
"I've had a lot of senior-aged girls interested," she said. "My hope is that Senior II becomes our competition squad. We had 30 registration packets each day out at the fair, and we were always out. We had 100 flyers, I may have taken 10 home at the end of the week."
Most interest was in Tiffin, although a number of families from Clyde and Green Springs also expressed an interest. Steele said she would consider opening a second location if there was enough interest in that area.
The deadline for registration for All In Cheer sessions is Saturday with the first meeting to be Aug. 30 at 27 Prospect St.
Cost for the first month of sessions, which includes a $15 registration fee, is $27 for Tiny Tots and $37 for Pee-Wee level and up.
Steele's plans include traveling and participating in cheerleading competitions at local fairs, and locations such as Disney World in Florida and Kalahari in Sandusky. There already are plans to participate in the Heritage Festival parade and to perform at the Findlay Village Mall during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend.
Plans also include helping others. Steele said she wants to encourage the cheerleaders to raise money for charity, so she is organizing "Cheer Power" to raise money to contribute to area food pantries, wishing trees at Christmas, and other community needs.
"The idea is to use the girl's and their families to help the community," she said. "So if we do dance-a-thons, or candy bar sales, we'll donate the proceeds to soup kitchens, for example."
For more information or to request a registration packet, call (419) 618-7447 or (419) 448-9281, e-mail tiffin
firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Steele at 10 Walker St., Tiffin, OH 44883.