Our March Epic Athletes may be small but oh so mighty. Both Emily Bott and Shelby Fellows possess the poise of a humble competitor and drive of a winner. Each takes a different approach to Rising Up.
Emily Bott of Long Island Cheer speaks on the specific struggles she has faced this season and how she and her team have tackled those obstacles in order to succeed.
“This season my main goal, like every year, is to be better than I was the year before. I want to be more confidant when performing all my skills, from stunting to tumbling and even the dance (I have the hardest time with that). As a team, we have had to overcome many obstacles. We lost a lot of girls from last season on my J5 team. The new girls have stepped up to the challenge and the existing girls have worked even harder to try and be the best leaders possible. I can’t wait to see how our hard work as a team will pay off as we go into the final stretch of the season.”
Shelby Fellows of Queensland Elite touches on a subject so pertinent to the nature of the cheer industry. At a young age, Shelby already recognizes the importance of support and rising up together in order to succeed.
“Fighting a battle against jealousy is a huge obstacle in this sport. I rise up against this by constantly being positive not just for myself but towards others in the hope my positivity rubs off on them so we can all support each other. Cheering everyone on when they get a new skill and supporting everyone when they are struggling with certain areas of the sport can make a huge difference. I have found that for me to rise up I must also keep lifting those around me so that we can all rise up together. Everything is always better when you have support and friendship surrounding you.”
What amazing, young athletes both physically and mentally. We wish both Emily and Shelby all the best and have been so honored to have them represent us as Junior Epic Athletes!
Epic Athlete Jaycie Enwright of World Cup’s Shooting Stars is such an inspiration. Her talent caught our eye at World’s tryouts this past April but what drew us to Jaycie was her positive demeanor and infectious smile. She faces an obstacle so unique to this sport that you wouldn’t know unless told. Her outlook and maturity have proven essential to overcoming this challenge and we are quite impressed.
“As a competitor and an athlete, I began tumbling and stunting at a later age than most all-star cheerleaders. I learned to rise up to the challenge very early on and cheer had a lot to do with that. As a toddler I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing. I was unable to comprehend or process simple conversations without requiring “wait time”. I worked with therapists until I was 14 years old to help me reach goals to improve my comprehension.
At the age of 9, I walked into my first all-star gym. I barely had any skills and I was already at a disadvantage because of my Auditory Processing. However, I did have a few things on my side, which helped me to rise up and make people take notice. I am a hard worker. I am driven. And God blessed me with this unexpected talent that quickly propelled me to the top of my sport. Looking back on my 6 years of practices and competitions I remember the accomplishments and awards, as well as the struggles and train wreck performances. It’s important to remember both the good and the bad. The hardships and the failures are what drive an athlete like me to rise up and overcome obstacles. Getting a standing full at the age of 10, a running double at 11, competing on a level 5 team all 6 years, making my dream team… The Shooting Stars… And finally, winning NCA! This has all happened because when I fall, I don’t give up. Instead I do what a competitor does to be successful. I rise up.”
We commend Jaycie on her success and encourage all athletes to take note of her relentless positivity and determination.
Epic Athlete, Jess Fish of Cheer Factor All Stars has learned to Rise Up above a disadvantage that most cheerleaders take for granted, sight. Being born blind in her left eye, Jess doesn’t let this set-back stop her from pursuing her passion. Her pursuit is reflected in her talent and she is unstoppable.
“I have gladly accepted that having no sight in my left eye is what makes me unique. When I began to cheer, I never realized that there might be some issues that I would need to overcome because of it. Last season I became a main base for my team when I was usually a secondary. Being on the left side of the stunt and having no sight in my left eye caused some problems as you would imagine. For example tick tocks, I am not able to see my flyers full foot therefore I have to completely turn my head to the side and adjust when I catch it. Luckily I have an amazing stunt group who have adjusted to the way I need to grab the foot and we’ve learned to work well together.
Not only does my sight affect some stunts, it also affected the way I learned to tumble. When I first learned how to do a full I spun to the left. When my tumbling began to progress even more, I started working on doubles with my coach. I always felt very uneasy and unsure of where I was when I would double with him. One time I got nervous and stopped. I ended up landing on my head and getting a mental block that lasted for over a year. As I began regaining my confidence, I began to re-learn my full spinning to the right. It felt really weird at first but I was able to see the ground before landing so it was easier to get used to. By the next season I was ready to compete doubles. I would have never been able to accomplish any of this without my coaches. They push me to be a capable, confident, and competent athlete and I will treasure that support for the rest of my life.”
We are so inspired by Jess’s story and her incredible maturity. Check back as we reveal monthly how our Epic Athletes Rise Up.
When we asked Epic Athlete Madison Baran of South Jersey Storm All Stars how she rises up, she told us about overcoming injury, a relatable topic for many cheerleaders. Read her story below:
“It was my freshman year of high school and I was a track sprinter. At our very first track meet on April Fool’s Day, I was in my starting position on the runner’s block for the 100m race. As I stood up to run, I heard a loud pop in my knee, but I ignored the sound and finished my race. I noticed that I wasn’t running as fast as I knew I was capable of. When I finished my race, I was trying to walk back to my coach, but my leg was stuck in a slightly bent position. I immediately broke into a nervous cry and sat on the grass. The school trainer came over to take a look and I couldn’t bend or straighten my leg, she then gave me a pair of crutches and suggested that I see a doctor. It was a day that I had practice at Storm so instead of heading to the hospital I went right to the gym to inform my coaches. When I was walking into the gym with tears in my eyes, Matt Adams, my coach, laughed it off and said “April Fools, now put the crutches down,” but it wasn’t a joke. After I talked to my coaches I headed to Rothman Urgent Care where I was told to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, who told me that I tore my meniscus and would need surgery. After 5 days and 6 doctor appointments I had surgery on April 6, 2015. After surgery, I was on crutches for almost 2 months and I went through 3 months of physical therapy. The hardest part was watching my team at the end of April compete at Worlds and for the first time make it to day 2. When the following season came and I wasn’t cleared yet, I strongly debated on taking a year off to relearn my skills. Luckily, my coaches convinced me not to and I feel stronger and more powerful than ever. After 4 months I was cleared on August 11, 2015.”
Madison is back and better than ever. We wish her the best of luck this season as well as all of our Epic Athletes. Stay posted for more testimonials and features as we all strive to Rise Up!
As a two time World Champion and Guinness World Record holder, Angel Rice is the face of success in the cheer industry. Her tumbling abilities set her apart from the increasing number of cheerlebrities that grace social media platforms across the country. As a member of Stingray Allstars Orange, she begins her final season of competitive cheerleading this month and we are taking a look back at when it all started.
Angel began cheering at 4 years old. It began as a hobby and soon grew into a passion. But her journey to the top wasn’t smooth. She overcame many obstacles specifically financial difficulties. Angel realized the sport was expensive when her family began spending a lot of time participating in fundraisers to pay for uniforms, shoes, competitions, and many other expenses associated with being a competitive cheerleader, especially a successful one. She said, “It was pretty rough at times. There were times when my mom, my sister, and myself would get our buckets and stand on the corners and ask the cars that stopped at the red light for money.”
But learning this at an early age only made Angel stronger mentally and therefore physically. “It made me work harder so that our efforts would not be wasted”, she said looking back. Angel’s advice to other athletes facing the same financial struggles is to work hard and never give up. Also to use social media and any other online resources to gain support, a method not available to Angel when she was younger.
Angel hasn’t let her success go to her head. She stays grounded remembering obstacles like this that have made her who she is today. She said, “I don’t take for granted all of the help that I’ve been given. I am truly grateful.” And after meeting Angel, we can absolutely attest to this. We are proud to have Angel Rice represent us as an Epic Athlete and we are excited to watch her continually Rise above any obstacle that may come her way.
When we asked Epic Athlete Marisa Bruno how she Rises Up she spoke about the dedication, persistence, and concentration it takes to master high level skills in cheerleading. While these philosophies are emphasized from the age an athlete can understand them, they are often taken for granted. Marisa, of USA Wildcats, reminds us that these elements are the foundation of this sport where a cheerleader is constantly working towards a more challenging skill while perfecting the old. She says, “You have to want to succeed more than you want to breathe in this sport.” Marisa admits that standing fulls were her biggest challenge. She would arrive to the gym early and stay late to make sure she was exhausting all efforts to add this new skill to her repertoire.
What is often forgotten is the need to be mentally tough sometimes more than physically. She tells us, “Tumbling is more than just physically flipping your body over. You have to be mentally tough and positive in order to succeed.” We’ve all been where Marisa was, battling our minds in order to make our bodies do what we are asking. She acknowledges how frustrating and defeating it is each time you fall but that its necessary to get up and do it again until the skill becomes muscle memory. And you think, how could I ever not do this? “The blood, sweat, and tears are all worth it in the end because there is no better feeling than the adrenaline rush you get when you walk off the mat knowing you hit a perfect routine.” We couldn’t have said it better. We are very happy to welcome Marisa to the Epic Athlete family!
Epic Athlete Kennedy Thames is known for her top-notch flying skills and fun-loving personality but what most of her followers and fans don’t know are the sacrifices she has made to get to where she is today. Kennedy is a flyer for Rockstar Beatles located in Greenville, NC. She drives almost two hours each way for practice in addition to tumbling classes and school cheer, leaving very little time in the evenings for homework, friends, and family. However, this isn’t a complaint. Kennedy focuses on the positive, telling us that her team is like her second family and that she has made some of the best friends all over the country because of cheer. Instead of feeling defeated, she has adjusted to always make her free time count. Kennedy has learned from an early age how important time management and prioritizing are, something all athletes must master before college.
Kennedy emphasizes the importance of her grades and it shows! While fitting in papers and projects on her way to practice and back she has accomplished a 5.0 GPA, and is #2 in her class of over six hundred students. She acknowledges her family telling us, “I’m very lucky to have such a supportive family that understands my love for my sport and the drive I have to be the best I can be.” Kennedy’s ability to rise up beyond her circumstances and continue to succeed in her sport and school is outstanding. We are very proud to welcome Kennedy to the Epic Athlete family.
Epic Athlete Blake Forry of Maryland Twisters Reign isn’t only being featured by the Epic Brands this month but graced the cover of Inside Cheer magazine! We couldn’t be more proud. After having the chance to meet Blake at our Under Armour Epic Athlete shoot we know of the kind, enthusiastic and very talented young man that he is.
When we asked how he Rises Up, Blake spoke about the challenges he faced when transitioning from school cheer to All Star. He noted how strict All Star was considering the competitive nature. He told us, “It was hard to get used to but I got the hang of it quickly!”
Blake also had to make a major time commitment to his gym driving over two hours each way for practice three times a week. He felt held back by only participating in school cheer so it was a necessary decision. Thanks to his families support and belief in his talent, he was able to fulfill this commitment and therefore become a better athlete. His biggest supporter and role model is his mom. He told us, “She was always on the go with her job and she always found time for me and my brothers. She always told us to follow our dreams.” In return, Blake seeks to be a role model himself. He wants to instill confidence in younger athletes and continue the manta, “You can do anything you want!” We couldn’t agree more Blake. Welcome to the Epic Athlete family!
Chicago, IL, April 21, 2016– Team Champion, EPIC Brands and the WSA family of brands are pleased to
announce that all three companies will be joining forces to form Team Epic Brands.
This partnership represents a pooling of the expertise from three of the largest independent event producers in the industry. “This partnership will allow our three companies to continue the working relationship we all began several years ago, but now instead of focusing on our own individual successes, we will come together with one set of unified goals and objectives”, said Michael Bolden, Co-Owner/President of Team Champion.
Every industry needs to have choices and options for customers. Team Epic Brands is proud to fill that void by offering a variety of different event types and pricing levels with our 11 different event brands. Those various companies will offer 170+ events in 32 different states from the onset, while actively looking to explore new opportunities. All of our brands will continue to offer The Season Pass, allowing us to provide customers with thousands of dollars in savings each season. The Season Pass is not exclusive to Team Epic Brands. We are actively looking for new customers and event partners to join our team. Darren DeMoss, Owner/President of WSA Brands had this to say about working with Team Champion and EPIC Brands. “My high level of excitement revolves around the fact that we are creating a partnership and not a take over. This new model will allow us to pool our knowledge and resources to create a better product for our customers, providing them with choices and options for their event experience, today, and in the future”.
The three companies will maintain their three regional office locations in Baltimore, Chicago, and Baton Rouge to better service customers at the local & regional level. All of the things that our customers have grown to love about our individual companies will not change. We will continue to offer the best customer service in the industry, combined with some new and exciting options for coaches, athletes, and parents. Both our existing and new customers will have complete access to the full array of products and services that Team Epic Brands will offer, including 80+ Worlds Bids, The Season Pass, and various specialty and destination events.
“The Epic Brands has always taken great pride in offering alternatives to cookie cutter events and concepts. We have continued to bring fresh ideas to the industry, in hopes of constantly moving cheerleading and dance into a new era”, says Lura Fleece, Co-Owner of EPIC Brands. “It is with that same visionary eye towards the future that has led us to this new and amazing opportunity to partner with WSA and Team Champion. A new horizon is breaking in the spirit industry and Team Epic Brands is proud to be leading the charge.”
The 11 event brands under the Team Epic Brands umbrella include ACDA, Allstar Championships, American Allstar, Champion Cheer & Dance, Champion Spirit Group, CheerStarz, DanceFest, Nation’s Choice, Spirit Unlimited, VIP, and WSA. For more information on Team Epic Brands, visit them online at www.teamepicbrands.com.
About EPIC Brands
The Epic Brands formed in 2011 when American Cheer & Dance Academy (ACDA) and Spirit Unlimited (SU) decided to join forces. The two companies partnered together previously to form some of the top cheerleading organizations in the world including SITA, IEP, The U.S. Finals and The Final Destination. Both companies brought premier national events to Epic with ACDA’s Reach the Beach Nationals and SU’s Battle at the Boardwalk Nationals. As members of USASF, Epic awards Full Paid and Partial Paid World bids and bids to all US Finals. Since the partnership began, EPIC Brands has created & acquired additional companies, including Champion Cheer & Dance, CheerStarz, Epic Gear, and Epic Camps. They currently host 80+ events in 20 different states throughout the US.
About Team Champion
Team Champion was founded in 2005 with one company and 5 events. Since that time, Team Champion has grown to include 4 individual brands: Champion Spirit Group, Nation’s Choice, DanceFest, and Allstar Championships. Each brand has its own unique identity, while maintaining the common themes of sportsmanship, fairness, and fun.
Team Champion is a founding member of The Season Pass, THE ONE Finals, and is actively involved in the spirit industry, currently holding positions on various USASF committees, including the National Advisory Board for cheer & dance. Team Champion hosts 40+ events throughout the US, and currently offers 50+ bids to the
Cheerleading & Dance World Championships.
Worldwide Spirit Association was founded in 1996 by Darren and Nicole DeMoss. The company’s roots started in 1990 when Darren and Nicole paid their way through college by cheering at LSU. After graduation, the two turned their passion into a business by opening a cheer gym and starting one of the first all-star programs in the country, the Baton Rouge All Stars. In an effort to fill the natural summer slow down at the cheer gym, WSA Summer Camps was launched. In 1999 WSA held its first championship, and then in 2000, Darren and
Nicole left the cheer gym business to fully focus on WSA Camps and Competitions. Today, WSA is one of the leading companies in the cheer and dance industry, hosting 30+ events throughout the US.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Michael Bolden at firstname.lastname@example.org.