In its first full year of competition, Woodinville’s Tech Elite Cheer House, affiliated with Tech Gymnastics, won two national competitions.
“We feel like we had a pretty solid, successful showing for our first year out,” said Hallie Newton, cheer coach and one of Tech Elite’s two program directors along with coach Lenny Lewis.
The gym’s senior team, called “Matrix,” is made up of eight girls ages 11 to 16. Matrix won the PacWest Nationals in Portland in March and also won the American Showcase National Championships in Anaheim in April.
A team of eight is tiny compared to other teams, said Newton. Even in the “small” division in which Tech Elite competes, teams can consist of up to about 20 girls.
“For us to be the smallest team in our division and still win, we always made sure that our girls felt very proud of that,” Newton said.
Tech Elite Cheer House includes girls from the Northshore area and several of the surrounding towns. Many participants start out with little to no cheer experience at all.
“It’s possible for you to feel successful and do really cool stuff even at the lower levels,” Newton said.
The senior team competed at level one this season. Newton said they will be pushing toward level two during the offseason. Since there are no official competitions during the summer, it’s a time for tryouts, conditioning, strength training, and implementing new techniques.
Tryouts for all Tech Elite cheer teams occur on May 20 and 21. Ages range from about five years old all the way up to 18. No prior skills are necessary.
“Everybody has to start somewhere,” Newton said. “We are a safe place to start. Even if they aren’t ready, then we can give them a path to get ready.”
The gym teaches participants everything from basic tumbling and basic stunting all the way up to high level skills. For those who may not want to travel and compete on a team, there are weekly classes like Tiny Cheer (for ages three to six), Youth Cheer (which teaches basic cheerleading motions and stunting), Beginning Tumbling and Conditioning (which teaches skills like handstands, back bends, and walkovers), Flight School (for flyers or anyone interested in becoming a flyer) and Back Handspring Class.
During the competitive season, which runs from December through the end of April, girls practice about 8 hours a week. In the offseason, practice runs for about 5 to 6 hours per week.
“Some are there every day if they can be,” Newton said.
According to Newton, though growing rapidly, competitive cheerleading is not as popular in the Pacific Northwest as it is in other parts of the country.
“People just don’t know what we do,” she said. Because of its relative obscurity, some may see cheerleading as all tumbling and dance choreography. But it’s much more than that.
The sport, like most others, is also about gaining confidence, learning how to work hard and understanding how to cooperate as a team.
“It’s really fun to watch them grow up as people and work through conflicts,” Newton said of her girls. “I hope they come out of it with a passion for the sport.”
For more information about Tech Elite Cheer House and to find out more about upcoming tryouts and classes, visit techgymnastics.com.