For those of you not familiar with All Star Cheerleading, it is quite a bit different than school cheer. The biggest difference is the combination of ages. This took us some time to get used to and of course, changed the dynamics at the gym. The US All Star Federation sets the age grid, along with a complex set of rules each season. The age grid for the 2018-2019 season are as follows for the All Star Elite competitive division:
Tiny Ages 5-6
Mini Ages 5-8
Youth Ages 5-11
Junior Ages 5-14
Senior Ages 11-18
A crossover athlete is an athlete that will compete on more than one team within their gym. USASF guidelines allow an athlete to be a member of one team, but then crossover to 2 additional teams during a competitive season. There is additional cost involved that could include increase in tuition, uniform expense and competition fees. At CESG we try to keep these costs at a minimum because crossover athletes are a necessity to advance and continue to develop our competitive program. At team placements, our athletes are asked if they want to be a crossover. If they say yes, then this is generally what happens! If they say no, then they are placed on the team where they are needed MOST to round out all competitive squads. That means that they will not necessarily be put on the oldest and highest-level team even if they have the required skills. Does everyone want to be on the oldest and highest-level team? Generally, YES! Is that possible for a small gym? Generally, NO!
Smaller gyms NEED crossovers to be competitive. We attended a competition in Kansas City this year and got to watch multiple Level 4 and Level 5 teams with 30+ kids on the floor, all from the same gym! Our girls were visiting with some of the team members from this gym and found out they have no crossovers for the 15 competitive cheer teams at their facility! FIFTEEN TEAMS – NO CROSSOVERS – LOTS OF KIDS ON THE FLOOR! This gym is based in the Kansas City Metropolitan area with an approximate population of 2,160,000. We are based in Bolivar with an approximate population of 10,500. The gym in KC doesn’t NEED crossovers, but smaller gyms do!
The key to great crossovers (or willingness to be a crossover) starts with the proper perspective for the parents and the athletes. It is important for them to understand their role in the program and success of the gym overall. Sometimes you can just see that “look” when you announce the teams and the athletes have that “Oh my gosh, I don’t really want to be a crossover now!” face. Even if they don’t say it, you know that they don’t want to be with the “little” girls. Many of the parents feel the same. There are some good life lessons in cheerleading, and teaching your child to be a leader, a good role model, and a team player are among the top of the list! Everyone was the “little” girl at some point, and more than likely, were on a team where someone had to stick it out so that they could learn, grow and advance in their skills. If these girls wouldn’t have stayed with the program, then the current girls would not be where they are today!
We feel that crossovers have an advantage as they grow in the sport as well. These athletes usually end up being the oldest athletes in one group, and possibly the youngest in the other group. They may end up being a base on one team, and a flyer on the other. They may be the best tumbler & jumper in one group but find their way to the back during jumps and tumbling in the other. This allows them to be a true leader on one team, and a supportive teammate on another. It teaches them to work hard to achieve their goals yet be humble enough to share their talents with those still learning! It gives them the opportunity to be well-rounded skill wise. It gives them more gym time, more friendships, and develop a passion for the sport and what it does to encourage confidence for all girls in the program!
Being on a competitive team at Cheers! means you support the gym, the coaches, and all the girls in the competitive program. Thankfully, the athletes that came before understood their role and whole-heartedly gave their time and talents to the gym to help develop a program! Imagine what the future holds if you pay it forward!