Sr. Elite is BACK!

Hi everyone, I’m Amber Pickens, Cheer Extreme Senior Elite!  This is my sixth year at Cheer Extreme, my second year on Senior Elite.  I am a 2013 World Champion and a 2012 Coed Elite Majors Champion.  This will be my third time competing at The Majors.  Being selected as a team to compete at The Majors is such an honor and we look forward to it every year!  Image

The Majors is full of excitement from start to finish.  I love how the teams are videoed while the practices lead up to The Majors.  I always look forward to watching my competitors to get a sneak peek of their routine.  All the teams have so much talent; it’s incredible.  The night before The Majors, they host a special banquet just for the teams selected to compete.  It’s so nice meeting athletes from different gyms and making new friends.  Then comes the night of the event.  Warm-ups can be very intense.  Yes, we are all friends, but in the end, we are all after the same win.  Image

The stage of The Majors is like no other.  To hear your name called out individually, as you walk on the mat, into a spotlight, you feel like a superstar performing at your own concert.  They even have the fog effect to go along with our entrance.  You can’t see the audience but you can definitely hear the roar of your fans.  

The routine that our Coach, Courtney Smith Pope, has choreographed for Senior Elite is the most challenging routine ever.  From start to finish, we have to push ourselves and encourage each other to be able to pull through this routine.  Senior Elite has already started intense conditioning to maximize our endurance.  There are many surprises in store.  Be sure to follow me, with the rest of Senior Elite, while we prepare for The Majors!
Much love,
Amber Pickens
Instagram: @amberpickens
Twitter: @SEamberlee

Who Will End Up On Top?

Hey, My name is Tucker Hendrix I’m 15 years old and a Freshmen at Hoover High School! ImageThis is my first year on Ace Warriors but i’ve cheered for over 7 years and love this sport. Cheerleading is a big part of my life and always will be! Finding out that Warriors were chosen to compete at the Majors was so exciting, Ive never competed at a competition like Majors before so I’m super excited to see what it will be like! it is such an honor to be selected to compete against some of the best teams out there, but that means we need to work extremely hard to be prepared to hit our action packed routine to the best of our ability! I can’t wait to see what the Coed division will bring at the Majors 2014 and who will end up on top!

Make sure you follow me on twitter @MAJORStucker #MAJORScheer

Our JAM Staff Prepares You for Camp!

School is out, summer is here, don’t let cheer and dance 

camps give you fear! Whether you’re a rookie to camps or it’s a summer ritual, the JAM Brands staff is here to help! We’ve got great suggestions for your packing list, as well as how to make the most out of your cheer and dance camp experience!

New to camp? Don’t sweat it! Don’t be afraid of walking into a gym full of people you don’t know. Remember, lots of them are new as well, so stand next to someone new and make a friend! Our JAM Staff has been in your shoes, so check out what they had to say about being new to camp!


“Always have your head up, eyes and ears open to learn. Don’t get discouraged if you don’tcatch on to something as quickly as others. Ask for help if you need it, that is what camp is for!”

-Mady Mitchell, Former WKU Cheerleader


“Be sure to eat and drink more than you normally Imagewould! Cheer camp is very intense and takes a lot out of your body, so you need to make sure your body has the fuel it needs to keep up with the demands of camp!  It’s very easy to get tired and dehydrated, so you will want to make sure to pack extra water and (non-meltable) snacks in your backpack!  This will help you feel and perform your best!!!”

-Lauren Grady, Former UK and Team USA Cheerleader


“Be prepared to work hard and learn a lot.  This will be the greatest few days with your teammates, so enjoy the experience.”

-Amanda Fow, Former UL Cheerleader

Being new to camp, you might not know what to bring. Here are some “Must-Have” items our JAM Staff suggested you pack in your bag!

  • WaterImage
  • Camera
  • Shower Flip Flops
  • Sleeping bag/pillow
  • Camp clothes
  • Positive attitude
  • Cheer or Dance shoes
  • Phone charger…. Social Media!

For those of you who have learned the ropes of camp, don’t forget to make the most of your experience, now that you know what to expect. Our JAM Staff has good advice for improving your skills and helping the beginners adjust to this exciting opportunity!


“Help make it a fun experience for the people who have never been. You know you can get overwhelmed, so if you see someone struggling give them a hug and let them know you are there to help them. That’s what teammates are for!

-Tara Kleinhenz, Former UK Dancer


“You know how rough cheer and dance camp can be. Come in with an attitude that you are going take more away from camp this year than you did the last year. Everyone can always Imageimprove -look at your weaknesses and focus on those areas. Take a good balance of different classes to show you can do it all. Be confident when you walk into classes knowing you have done this before, but be humble enough to give someone you’ve never met a compliment. Help others and encourage members on your team that have never been to camp before because not only is it a chance to better yourself, but it’s also a chance to bond and get closer as a team! Remember people are always watching, so try to get noticed and stand out of the crowd.”

-Jenny Beeler, Current Dance Coach

“Now that you are an experienced camper, it is time for you to help those who are new to cheer camp!  Make sure all of your new teammates know what to expect and are prepared before you get to camp! Once you get there, help them understand what is going on! We all remember our first camp experience, it was intimidating and confusing! The more comfortable and prepared the team is for camp, the more y’all will get out of it!  Pair up with a new comer, and help them along throughout the week! “

Image-Lauren Grady, Former University of Kentucky & USA Cheerleader

“Look for new ways to improve yourself and your team.  You can always learn something new if you’re ready to take the challenge.”

-Amanda Fow, Former UL Cheerleader  


Since you already know the necessities of your packing list, here are a few “Just in Case” items our JAM Staff recommends!

  • 50 Elastic Hair Ties - Assorted Colors - Knotted Hair Ties - Colorful Hair ties - Ponytail Holders
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Sweat Towel
  • Extra travel size toiletries
  • Small battery operated fan
  • Lots & lots of hair ties
  • Band-Aids

Whether you’re new to camp or you’ve been for years, don’t forget it is all about having FUN! Our JAM Staff put together a few FUN items all of you want to be sure not to forget!

  • Fun accessories-have your team pick a theme and have some fun with your camp clothes
  • Inspirational gifts for teammates
  • Games for hanging out at night

ImageSchool will start again before you know it, so you want to be ready for those football games and competitions! Enjoy your summer, and use your camp opportunities to not only bond with your teammates, but improve your skills as well! Pack your bags, and have the time of your life!

Choreograph to win!


I still remember the first routine I ever choreographed. It was for a high school in Kentucky. I was so new to the cheer world (having only cheer for a whopping 6 months), but I was so excited to create  a routine!

It. Was. Awful.

I had no idea what I was doing. I taught the routine to words in the songs rather than to counts and I am not even sure we did a pyramid at all in that routine. In fact, I know we didn’t. The kids were excited, though. They won their regional competition and qualified for State. Their coach asked me to do the routine again the next year. I felt on top of the world.

Looking back on all of this, there is one major problem from which  I hope you all can  learn. Thankfully, the kids had some talent and managed to squeak by into States, but their coach did zero homework in finding the right choreographer. She had no idea who I was, who I had worked with, how good (or bad) I was, and never once talked to me before camp.  In looking back at it, I almost laugh because it seems so strange to me.

ImageI am sure many of you are heading into choreography season over the next few weeks. Hopefully you have done a good job of selecting the right person for your program already.  If you haven’t – I’d encourage you to do some research before your choreographer shows up and you are blindsided by an awful situation!

  1. Ask for references from past clients.
    If you haven’t asked for references (not YouTube links) from your choreographer, you’ve already messed up.  Don’t assume that because you have seen a great routine on You Tube or at a competition that the choreographer is good.  The routine is the easy part – making sure the choreographer knows your expectations, how to work with your program, hours, days, details, how you run your program, etc. are all important. I worked with a program last year who told me that the choreographer they hired the year prior walked in and said “I do things my way. If you don’t like it – I’ll just leave!” Not only did the gym owner have 5 kids quit during choreography week, but they also had a miserable experience.  It happens all too often that we hear of huge egos in this industry, but let’s be honest … if you are paying someone thousands of dollars and they could care less about how you want things done – fire them.
  2. Make sure their experience matches your needs.
    Just because you love Super Mega Competitive World Champion All Stars’ routines and choreography, don’t assume that hiring someone from their staff to do your routine will give you the same type of routine. While many big programs enjoy some in-house choreography benefits, many of them still hire someone to come do their routines (or parts of their routine), too. Ask them if they do ALL of their routines. If you like a particular part of their routine, ask them who does it. If you like their style, ask them where they got it. If they can’t give you straight answers – they don’t do it themselves. It always cracks me up when I hear a gym owner say “I got Mr. Amazing Guy from Super Mega Competitive World Champion All Stars to do our routines this year! We are totally going to win everything!” I only laugh because more often than not, that coach is from their Mini 1 team (not saying that there aren’t some fierce Mini 1 coaches out there) but the point I am trying to make – is never assume that you will be getting the same product that someone else coaches. Your program is your program, not theirs.
  3. Ask if they know the score system.
    Speaking of getting your money’s worth, I can’t stress the importance of communication with your choreographer enough. If the first question your choreographer asks you is  not “Where are you competing this year? What score Imagesheets will you be one?” then you are wasting your money, and all you’d be getting is a routine, rather than a routine that will score well.  Let me say that again – YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY!  Your choreographer should be an expert on all score sheets and grids.  They should know how to get you a 10 every single time.  And if you gear your routine to a specific score sheet, they should be able to leave a list of things to do to make it work for other score sheets.  If they can’t – you are paying for a less than superior product.
  4. Be sure your routine will work on any score sheet.
    Never choreograph your routine to any one score sheet.  This is the advice that I always give gym owners.  While it seems simple, it is true and you would be surprised how many people never think of it.  Get every single score sheet you could potentially compete on.  Find the most difficult part of each score sheet (or better yet, ask your choreographer what they think is the most difficult part of the score sheet). In that section of the routine, be sure the routine is choreographed to the most difficult score sheet. In theory, if you are always choreographing to the hardest score sheet in any given skill set; you will always score well no matter where you go.  Trust me – it works!
  5. Be realistic with your expectations.
    When I ask people what their biggest goals are for a specific team when teaching them routines, I always stop gym owners when they say, “We just want to beat so-and-so …” because they won’t.  You will lose to them.  Something will happen at one competition that you can’t help.  Someone will drop a stunt.  Someone will forget where to go in a tumbling sequence.  Someone will trip and fall moving to the dance.  It happens – and it’s okay.  I always ask them, “Wouldn’t you rather have the best routine possible than only worry about beating them?”  While they typically feel silly after I say this, they come around.

All in all, I want you all to get great routines. Most importantly, though, I want you all to have the opportunity to win, and that starts over the summer.  Get the most for your money, communicate, make sure you are getting a good product for where you are competing, and make sure your goals are realistic for the season.

And if all else fails – PLEASE send your routines to any event producer and ask them to review them and score them and tell you how to score better if needed.  If the EP won’t do this, then find another EP.  We are in this industry together – and we should all be willing to help each other out.  Have a great summer – have great practices – and see you all very, very soon!

CHAD LEMON, Brand Director- COA

Marketing Monday, Part One: Know Your Customer

The Three-Part Marketing Monday series is adapted from Tara Cain’s JAM U 2012 lecture “Knowing Your Customer and Marketing Your Business”. For more great marketing lessons, register for JAM U 2013 in Louisville, KY!

Marketing your gym can seem daunting at first. How do you know what your potential clientele wants to hear? What mediums will successfully channel your message? What will motivate people to walk through your doors? It’s actually simpler than you think! In part one of our three part Monday Marketing series, we’ll evaluate the importance of knowing your customer and the impact this can have on your marketing plan.


The first step to any successful marketing plan is to know your target audience. The easiest way to do so is to take a step back for a moment and evaluate your existing customer base. Why did most step foot in your gym in the first place? Were they looking for a fun, after-school tumbling class or are the majority there for the competitive sport? Look at your existing business model. Do you generally have more interest in classes or competitive teams? How far do your customers commute and what is their commitment level? If commitment is low, and the majority of your revenue is generated via classes, chances are new customers will be looking for more of the same. Advertise it, and let the world know that your gym offers the area’s best classes.

Now, take a look at your surroundings. Figure out how you can capitalize on what’s around you. Is your gym location in a primarily high or low-income area? Price accordingly, and create class/competitive options based on what families in your area can afford. Do you have a school near your gym? Develop rec or school training classes, or pitch to be the official training center of your local high school.

Knowing your existing customers and paying attention to your surroundings can make all the difference. Determine your strengths and see how these align with your customer’s needs. Then, sell your program!

Make sure to visit us again next week for Part Two of our Marketing Monday series: Marketing YOU!

Find this post interesting? Attend JAM U 2013! Click here for more information.

“We Have A Lot To Prove On That Stage”

My name is Ashley Hobbs and I am 14 years old.  This is my third year on Senior Elite and we are thrilled to be returning to the The Majors this year.  I feel like we are coming with the mind set that we bd3e70cabb5d6d659371f29d7a52f1bchave a lot to prove on that stage, for we did not have our best performance at The Majors last year.

Even though the outcome at The Majors was not what we had hoped for, the overall experience was absolutely incredible.  The red carpet and banquet the night before was so much fun because we got to see all our friends from other teams and watch their videos and see their journeys’ leading up to The Majors.  The actual competition was so unique because we were individually introduced along with our coaches before our video was played. This really allowed spectators a glimpse into how we train.

The 2012-2013 season has started out great for Senior Elite.  We spent our summer working out different stunt sequences and pyramid ideas and of course working on tumbling, which is my favorite part!  In August, we had our routine camp and put all our hard work together.  Now that the actual competition season has started, it is just understood that as a member of Senior Elite, you are to be readily available to practice when needed. We practice regularly twice a week, but a

s the season gets going, often times extra practices are called at moments notice.  This of course can be frustrating at times, especially since approximately half our team travels 1 ½ to 2 hours each way, including myself, but each member of our team is totally committed and honored to be a part of such a special team.A7qg15jCUAAJzS8

Not one of our practices is ever the same.  Of course we do the usual warming up, working sections, and tumbling, but Courtney always keeps things interesting!  Full outs are always video taped and we sit down and critique them when we are done.  This allows us to see what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong! To keep things really interesting in practices are Courtney’s games.  She knows we thrive on competition and this includes competing with each other.  One of our most recent games we played was “Teal or no Teal”….  Just imagine the game show Deal or no Deal.  Never a dull moment at CEA!

Ashley Hobbs- Cheer Extreme- Senior Elite




Naturally, after reading this mysterious Facebook post from our coach on our group page, all the Aces became curious about what exactly this “news of the century” could be.  As requested by our coach, all the Aces arrived at practice 15 minutes early. When it was determined that we were all present, everyone spread out into a circle and held hands like we do when we pray at the end of each practice. Our coach, practically shaking, announces that the Aces have been invited to The Majors!  Immediately, every girl on the team became screaming jumping beans, bursting with excitement. Ever since that day, our focus has been preparing for The Majors.

ImageHey there! My name is Samantha! I am 17 years old and am currently a senior in High School! I am on The California Allstars, ACES! I’ve been cheering for about 10 years, and I am more excited for this competition season than I have been for any season in the past.

Majors 2013 will be the first time any of the Aces participate in this prestigious competition, and we are all raging with excitement. The drive that the Aces have this season is unmatched. Ever since we got the news that we were invited to The Majors our already difficult practices became even more challenging. Aces practice 4 times a week on a normal week, and we always get a lot accomplished. Going full out about 5 times per practice, we are extremely motivated and determined.

Since our practices are so rigorous, I have to mentally prepare myself ahead of time in order to endure an entire Aces practice. This can be difficult at times because I have an extra challenge. I have type 1 diabetes. Normally I don’t have any problem getting through practice without any complications.  I usually test my blood sugar mid-practice to make sure that I am okay, and if I’m not, I act accordingly to correct my glucose levels. I am as normal as any other cheerleader; I just wear an insulin pump. People tell me all the time that they had no idea, or that they completely forget that I am diabetic at all. I’ve been diabetic since I was 14 years old, and while it took some time to adjust to a diabetic lifestyle, it has never slowed me down.

My life is a complicated piece of artwork, having moved across the country 3 times for various Imagereasons in the past 4 years, and through the financial hardships, and some extreme health challenges that my family has faced recently, cheerleading has always been a constant in my life. My team means more to me than anyone could guess.  Each girl motivates me to be a better cheerleader, and person. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to compete at The Majors with my 29 sisters, and I wouldn’t trade the memories that we have, or the memories to come for the world. It is truly humbling to even be considered to compete in such a prestigious competition, and I it is very difficult to capture my excitement in words.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you at The Majors! (:

Samantha Foor- California All Stars- Aces