Cheerleaders – I know right, the first thing that pops in to my mind is mean girls with pony tails, pompoms and short skirts doing star-jumps on the side of a sports field!
So I was pleasantly surprised when I recently got to meet with a real-live cheerleader and got to see what this challenging sport is truly all about.
So before you read further – this is why I think this is a great story opportunity:
- South Africa has very high childhood obesity issues, Cheerleading helps keep kids fit and healthy in a fun way without making them feel like they are working out.
- It gives the kids a sense of belonging and family
- It’s a great story of one woman who has turned her passion into a business and through that has been able to provide employment to other people
Cue Samantha Hogg and The Cheer Stars! Samantha is a gorgeous 34 year old mom of 2, who began cheerleading as a sport when living in Gauteng as a teen. After moving to Cape Town and not being able to find her sport here, she started Tumbling Stars for children aged 2 to 6 years old and Cheer Stars for kids aged 6 and up who wanted to pursue cheer leading as a sport.
Samantha has quite an impressive list of achievements behind her name:
- A qualified Gymnastics Coach through the South African Gymnastics Federation (SAGF) and a qualified Cheerleading Coach through the South African Majorette and Cheerleading Association (SAMCA).
- Her Western Province Cheerleading Colours
- A member of the Cheerleading technical Committee for SA (This is the organisation that creates the rules and regulations for cheerleading in SA.)
- The SAMCA Cheerleading Athletes Representative for South Africa
- The Deputy Trainers Representative on the WPMCA Executive Board
- The Western Province Coach for the senior and junior Teams for 2016 season
- A WPMCA Adjudicator
Although now seen as more of a girls/ women’s sport, Cheerleading was originally started over 100 years ago (1869) as a men’s only group to help cheer on the football player with fight songs. It wasn’t until 1923 that women were allowed to cheer for the first time, at the University of Minnesota, but would take until the 1940’s for them to join in larger numbers as all of the men went off to fight in World War 2. However, having said that the numbers of men to women is definitely climbing as many boys and men are seeing the benefit of cheerleading when crossing over into their more “manly” sports like rugby and soccer.
Known as the Mother of All sports, cheerleading builds core strength, overall strength and agility as well as fitness and well-being. Samantha is slowly but surely taking a strong hold in the schools in the Southern Suburbs and South Peninsula and showing fantastic results at national championships. At the recent Cheerleading National Championships held in Johannesburg, Samantha’s Fish Hoek team placed 4th for All Girl Team, 1st for 5 Girl Team and 1st for Partner Stunts. They also won the Western Proving Champion of Champions award. And Bergvliet High School placed 6th overall for their All Girl Team at their first National Championships.
Tumbling Stars: was started in 2009 as a mobile gymnastics coaching company that would travel to schools around the Western Cape teaching youngsters about gymnastics. When Samantha started she had buy in from 2 schools with only 15 children enrolled; she now coaches at 14 schools throughout the South Peninsula and Southern Suburbs with over 185 enrolled in the programme.
Tumbling Stars and Samantha are both registered through the South African Gymnastics Federation. She employs 1 full time and qualified coach.
Cheer Stars: was born out of Tumbling Stars in 2013. Samantha started with 1 primary school and 1 tertiary school team, she now has 3 primary school teams, 3 high school teams and 1 tertiary school team, and recently signed a contract with Rush South Africa as their ambassadors.
Cheerleading is made up of Stunts, Pyramids, Tumbling, dance and cheer. Our cheerleading National Championships take place in different provinces each year. Samantha has 2 coaches working full time for her in Cheer Stars.
All in all Samantha and her team currently coach more than 300 children. So back to my opening paragraphs – when I met with Samantha I learned what cheerleading is really about. Samantha spoke about the incredible trust and team work that is built in a cheer squad, also the camaraderie and boosted self-esteems that are given to the team members who are made to feel like valuable members of a tightly knit family. Samantha has seen great results for children with low muscle tone and attention deficit disorders, as well as children classified on the autism scale. She also tells a lovely story about one of her young pupils who is in the top rugby team and is one of her top cheerleaders, who ascribes his success on the rugby field purely to his cheerleading trainingJ
Cheer Star Schools
- Fish Hoek Primary Juniors (Grade R – 3) A non-competitive in their year
- Fish Hoek Primary Seniors (Grade 3 – 7) They have been competing since 2013
- American International School of Cape Town Juniors (Grade 4 – 7) 2016 was their first season
- American International School of Cape Town Seniors (Grade 8 – 12) 2016 is their first season
- Fish Hoek High School (Grade 8 – 12) they have been competing for 2 seasons
- Bergvliet High School (Gr 8 – 12) 2016 was their first season competing
- 2014 – National Championships (Cape Town) – Fish Hoek Primary School placed 3rd in the All Girl Team and 3rd for Partner Stunts
- 2015 – National Championships (Bloemfontein) – Fish Hoek Primary placed 3rd for All Girl Team, 3rd for 5 girl Team and 2nd for Partner Stunts. Fish Hoek High School competed for their first year but did not place.
- 2016 – Nationals Championships (Johannesburg) – Fish Hoek Primary placed 4th for All Girl Team, 1st for 5 girl team and 1st for Partner Stunts.
- 2016 – Nationals Championships (Johannesburg) – Fish Hoek High School won the Western Province Champion of Champions.
- 2016 – Nationals Championships (Johannesburg) – Bergvliet High School placed 6th for All Girl Team overall.
For further details http://www.cheerstars.co.za .