Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Signal Mountain Xtreme Cheer is adding new classes as it moves into its new permanent space in the old Signal Mountain Middle School band room.
“Tom and Monique Poteet have been extremely generous,” head co-coach Allie Levine said of the building’s owners, who invested in new heating and air-conditioning units, flooring, windows and fresh paint for the space. “They have had plenty of other offers for people to come into that space, but they wanted to help us support the mountain. By supporting our squad they’re supporting all Signal Mountain youth sports.”
This is the first permanent home for what has been a transient group since its inception in 2005, then called Signal Mountain Thunder Cheerleading. The group previously practiced wherever it could find an available space, including the Mountain Arts Community Center, Signal Mountain Town Hall and the Signal Mountain Middle/High School cafeteria.
“As the group has grown we’ve outgrown so many different spaces,” said Levine. “This is a place where we can really invest in the program and our home.”
Open to ages 4-14, the program currently has around 70 participants. Young cheerleaders can start with the Xtreme Mini program for ages 4-5 and later join the Junior Squad for kindergarteners through second-graders and Xtreme’s Senior Squad, open to third- through fifth-graders.
The old band room will be ready sometime in September. Until that time the Poteets are allowing the group to use the old SMMS gym for its ongoing classes.
Beginning to advanced cheer, jump and tumble classes are offered every day of the week except Saturday, including classes specifically for the mountain’s large population of home-schoolers.
Participants are welcome to join a class at any time, said Levine.
New this year is the Xtreme Spirit program for kindergartners to middle schoolers with physical or mental disabilities, held Tuesdays from 4-5:15 p.m. Xtreme Cheer head co-coach Kathy Dudley said the new program is similar to Xtreme Cheer but more laid-back, less intimidating and with more one-on-one coaching.
“I want to make sure any child who wants to put on a uniform and have the experience of getting out there onto a field and getting to cheer on other children has that opportunity,” said Levine, a former pediatric physical therapist.
Another new program for 2012 is Middle School Prep, designed especially for fifth- to seventh-graders planning to try out for a middle school squad, held Fridays from 4-5 p.m. Participants will learn the tryout process, what will be required and what coaches are expecting from them, Levine said.
“They can feel confident going in knowing they have the skills under their belt and are used to being constructively critiqued,” she said.
In the past she said coaches would take the middle school squad hopefuls aside during regular classes, but this year she felt the demand was high enough to offer a separate class.
“Wherever we see needs arise we try to meet those needs and adjust [the program] to what the community is asking for,” said Levine.
All three open spots for the highly competitive Signal Mountain Middle School cheerleading program last year were filled by Xtreme Cheer participants, she said.
“We must be doing something right,” said Levine, whose favorite part about the program is how it brings so many different children together, as participants are drawn from Nolan, Thrasher and local private elementary schools and include home-schoolers as well. “It makes it an easier transition when they start middle school.”
A large part of the fun of being an Xtreme cheerleader is putting on the uniform and getting in front of a crowd, said Levine. Opportunities to perform include local events such as Hodgepodge and Sunday on Signal as well as participating in the SMHS Eagles Homecoming Parade and the Red Bank Christmas Parade. Junior Squad members cheer at the Signal Mountain youth flag football league games, and the Senior Squad offers its support to the youth tackle football league.
Participants create lasting bonds through the big sister/little sister program as well as an annual lock-in, Levine said.