Catalyst Allstars – Cheerleading in Wallsend

Catalyst Allstars are new in Wallsend and are having a great time teaching young people that art of cheerleading.

Today we meet Rachel, she is one of the coaches.

What inspired you to get involved with Allstar Cheer?
I went to an adult gymnastics class a few years back to keep fit and recover some of my skills, having competed in sports acrobatics as a child/teenager. I met one of my fellow directors and coaches, Kim, in that class and in a moment of madness, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and joined her Allstar Cheer team for a free session. The rest, as they say, is history – I absolutely loved it!

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a coach?
Just knowing that we’re making a difference in the lives of young people, that they’re choosing to spend time with us and their teammates, learning new things, making friends and keeping fit and healthy.

What’s the most challenging thing about being a cheer coach?
Sometimes my heart just isn’t in it – a long day at work, stress at home, general life stuff can make it difficult to turn up to practice feeling “cheery”. I usually find though, that bad days can be turned around in a flash by the smiling faces, and enthusiasm of our athletes! At the end of the day, we’re all human, but our gym is such a friendly and supportive environment that bad days don’t last long!

What’s your favourite part of Cheer?
This is a tough one – people would consider me the “tumbling guru” because of my gymnastics background, but honestly, whether I’m doing them myself, or coaching them, I love stunts!

What makes a good cheerleader?
It goes without saying that there is an element of skill, strength, coordination, but to me, the ideal cheerleader is someone who comes into the gym ready to work hard, who values and respects their teammates, and who trusts their coaches to make the strongest team possible. There’s no “i” in team, and everyone needs to be working towards the same goal.

How would one of the athletes describe you?
They would probably say I’m a bit daft, I look threatening when I’m wandering around with a clipboard in my hand, but that I’m supportive and encouraging!

Who inspires you as a coach?
I find myself more inspired by athletes, and ordinary people who have overcome adversity to triumph, but if I had to choose coaches in the cheer world, I would say Kenny Feeley and Lisa Aucoin. Between them, they have really nailed down what it takes to make a cheer programme succeed, the most innovative and effective ways of teaching athletes of all ages, and are willing to share this knowledge with the rest of the community. Most importantly though, they conduct themselves with great integrity and are credible influences for new teams such as ours.

Finally, for any young people reading this, why should they come and do cheerleading at Catalyst Allstars?
First of all, it’s a great sport, with enough different elements to it that you don’t need to be great at everything, as long as you have something positive to bring to the team (and yes, hard work and a fantastic attitude count). Our coaches and athletes alike love to welcome new members to the team, and I often think the hardest part is getting through the door for the first time (especially if you’re a little older, or think everyone will be better than you). My advice would be to step outside of your comfort zone, just like I did, and try your first session free – if it’s not for you, you’ve only wasted an hour, and if it is, well you’ve got fun, fitness and friendship ahead!