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2015: The Year in Cheer(MAD)

2015 was a tumultuous year, for CheerMAD and the cheer industry as a whole, but I’m happy to say both are changing, growing and thriving.

With 3,747,021 total social media impressions your favorite posts were:

Is cheer a sport or isn’t it? (289,300)

Athlete safety (165,600)

Worlds (139,269)

A CheerMAD’s confession (118,500)

Varsity brands’ role in cheer (108,000)

How to make a Cheer Bow Christmas Tree was another favorite with 58,800 hits, respectively.

Several stories stood out for me this year, the injuries at Worlds and the ever growing debate of “Is cheer a sport” were biggies. The video of the infant stunting with her brother went viral and the more serious coverage of the life and death of Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer helped keep parents in the loop of the industry so loved by their children. The revelation that football great Herschel Walker is a cheer dad received 9,800 hits respectfully and showed that you never know who is Certifiably CheerMAD.

Good, bad and indifferent here's what stood out in 2015 and things to pay attention to in the New Year:

Shannon Kaiser: CheerMAD’s Editor-in-Truth

(and writer of that post earning 118,500 “hits” among others)

Hmmmm......I think for me its cost. Financially it was probably the best year for my husband and I...yet, I'm sitting here and haven't booked a single flight for a single trip and I'm worried about how I'm actually going to afford the cost of this season's travel. It seems to me that every year its more expensive and I wonder when its going to stop. I feel its outrageous and unnecessary. We'll compete against the same teams in Atlantic City (twice), in Dallas and again at the Summit (if we get a bid). I just have to wonder why? I'm choosing (because it is a choice, I could say no) to have my daughter cheer versus putting a down payment on a house. That seems so wrong to me. Yet, here I am. There has to be a better way.

King Harrison: Fierce Board, creator

The move to uniform scoring (though flawed in its first attempt) was the greatest success.

Nestor DeLa Pena: Worlds Champ; Choreographer; Coach; Owner and president, The Allstar Cheer Consultants and Melissa Hay: Veteran industry judge and coach; Marketing consultant/administration of The Allstar Cheer Consultants also see the unified scoring system as being 2015’s great achievement.

The implementation of the unified scoring system by the various brands will allow for consistency in the scoring process. 2015 was the introduction of The Allstar Cheer Consultants which provide Gym Management Consulting services to maximize the profit potential of gyms. We had the opportunity to assist many gyms as well as providing skill technique clinics and choreography. One of newest implementations was The Routine Reviews allowing teams to be scored prior to competition.

Debbie Love: USASF Hall of Famer; Tumble coach extraordinaire

I feel that in 2015 we did a great job of putting our athletes safety first which makes me very happy. We instituted background checks and athlete membership and began our integrity program; all of which improve our legitimacy and professionalism. In 2016 I would like to see more legitimacy in training and assessing our athletes' bodies before introducing skills for which they are not physically ready. I would also like to see us stand up for complete integrity across our industry and continue to build our events around the bodies of our athletes by making them more conducive to good performances.

Mary Ann Powers: Coach, Acrobatics and Tumbling, Quinnipiac University; one of founding members of the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (shown above is image from NCATA of Oregon University's A&T team)

I love that athletes have so many opportunities to further their athletic goals at the collegiate level in a regulated atmosphere committed to academics and a safer environment. My hope for 2016 is that both the athletes and their parents become better informed about the genuine opportunities that exist at the collegiate level in Acrobatics and Tumbling. The Universities that are supporting this sport have put down long overdue resources for so many young women to participate in a sport that they love!

Colleen Dugan: Owner, Pretty Girl Cosmetics

The challenge I see ahead for the industry is creating new talent. The children who are naturally great athletes seem to get all the attention and limelight. I am very happy for all the successful athletes in our industry but I feel equally unhappy about the children who will never have that chance. I met up with a young girl who I coached years ago this past year at a cheer competition. Everyone on my team frowned upon my decision to make her a flyer. She was naturally awkward and not to graceful but the determination and drive to practice everyday made her great in my eyes. Her and her parents thanked me this year for giving her a chance. She made her high school cheer team! My advice to everyone in the industry, although there may be only one flower in a field a weeds, don't be surprised at the beauty within the weeds as the blossom into something amazing.

Kimberly Archie: Founder, National Cheer Safety Foundation

The most important change in 2015 was California making cheer a title IX sport. Not a sport in name only but the legal rights to the opportunities and safety as other athletes. Only Michigan and California have that.

Tanya Roesel: Owner, Midwest Cheer Elite

2015 brought about a lot of changes in our industry... from the Jambrands/Varsity merger to adjustments to a new scoring system. But I think 2015 has brought us together more as an industry... I have seen more communication between gym owners, the sharing of ideas and the sorting thru problems... which I think is great.

Patrick Cowherd: Owner, PC Brands; coach; former gym owner; former NCA cheerleader; present industry ombudsman and optimist.