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Building a Community

Building a Community
Kelly Halcomb- Atlanta JayHawks

Featured in Atlanta Cheer Magazine March 2013

What is it that makes our gym special? It is the spirit of community alive in the Atlanta JayHawks program. Growing up in Gwinnett County, I was raised to respect and give back to my community. I can honestly say that the relationships I built as a child and young adult empowered me to start our gym eleven years ago at the age of 25. I love that I can pass these lessons and encouragement on to the kids we coach each day. Life is about relationships, so building community leaders is a goal we strive for in the Atlanta JayHawks program.

It is our mission to “build character while inspiring athletes”, and we do this by challenging our kids to play a vital role in their own communities. This means getting involved, giving your time, and becoming confident productive citizens. When a cheerleader graduates out of our program, we want them to leave as a well-rounded and confident athlete, not just an all-star cheerleader.

Kids today want to have the best of both worlds when it comes to being involved in their schools and also being involved in a competitive all-star program. As a past high school teacher and coach, I know the importance of having a good relationship with local all-star gyms. We work heavily with 10-15 schools each year and work hard to maintain a mutually respectful relationship with school coaches and teachers. In return, we have high school coaches who consider us advocates for their programs and recommend our gym to their students.

We also take great strides to get involved in our local recreational leagues. Each year we hold instructional stunt clinics for recreational coaches who want to offer safe and knowledgeable training to their cheerleaders. Their desire to understand the sport they coach makes them eager each year to be educated by our staff. Again, there is a mutual respect that assists in building our community. After training them in stunting techniques, we work with the squads to choreograph cheer-off routines for their teams. Annually the “Gwinnett Football League Cheer-off” is held at the Gwinnett Arena, and we are fortunate enough to be a major sponsor.

Every year we participate in community events to show our support. In return, we receive positive advertisement which attracts girls and boys to join us as part of the Atlanta JayHawks “family”. Whether it is a performance at Suwanee Day, the Duluth Fall Festival, or the Atlanta Braves game, the JayHawks are taught the importance of community involvement. We support our kids on mission trips, school fundraisers, charities, and any local club or programs that encourage service to others.

Becoming an accomplished cheerleading gym means placing an emphasis on more than all-stars alone. Winning a competition is something we love to do, but winning in life is where the true respect is given. It is building a community where our sport and its leaders are respected which encourages growth and prosperity for cheerleading and our program.