Leaving her mark on the world
Charlene Wepner is among this year’s Marist Hall of Fame inductees
by By Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Dec 04, 2013 | 7530 views | 30 30 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LEAVING HER OWN SHADOW -- Charlene Wepner has left a mark on Hudson County sports that will be remembered.
LEAVING HER OWN SHADOW -- Charlene Wepner has left a mark on Hudson County sports that will be remembered.
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Charlene Wepner didn’t need to step out of the shadow of her famous father; she cast her own shadow on Hudson County sports. It was for this reason that she was inducted into the Marist High School Hall of Fame last month.

Wepner shared the limelight with other bright stars of Marist that include Brother Francis Lavigne, Robert DiNiococla, John D. Dwyer, Councilman Joseph Hurley, Rev. John R. Job, Daniel Klinga, and members of the 1969-1970 cross-country team.

Each year the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Marist High School honors the very best who have gone on to rewarding professional careers in all disciplines, or who have supported Marist through the years.

Wepner is the daughter of boxer Chuck “The Bleeder” Wepner, a fighter who made history both in the boxing ring and on the silver screen as the model for the Rocky movies.

On Nov. 23, Charlene—once described as the Bob Hurley of Hudson County Cheerleading—was honored for her own achievements, which are legendary.

If you attended any basketball game at Marist in the 1980s, you were bound to see the team of cheerleaders coached by Wepner.

Wepner became Marist High School Cheerleading Coach in 1980, and during a stretch from fall of 1981 to 1989, Marist High School Varsity Cheerleaders won an unprecedented six consecutive HCIAA Varsity Cheerleading championships. Marist High School JV Cheerleaders won all four of HCIAA Championships they entered. In 1987, Marist High School was first Runner Up (2nd place) in the USCA International Cheerleading Championship, Chicago.

Wepner started coaching at Washington elementary school in Bayonne in 1975, which led to five consecutive first-place city championships.

During this time, she also coached the Bayonne High School Soccer Cheerleading team, which won a number of local competitions.

She said she hadn’t intended to come to Marist as its coach. But some girls had approached Marist administrators asking to hire her, and she got the offer.

While she was at Marist, she also served as head coach for Jersey City State College cheerleading (1985-1987), a noncompetitive program that cheered at football and basketball games.

She said she resigned that position in 1987 to dedicate all her energy to Marist High School's quest to win the United States Cheerleader Association International Championship in 1988. Her teams had come in second place in 1987 in the Chicago competition, but she felt they could win it all.

On the plane back from Chicago, Wepner told her girls that she would quit the job at Jersey City State College, but that they had to work hard to win the top position.

“I knew I couldn’t do both, so I resigned to concentrate on Marist,” she said.

In 1988, her team did indeed win first place in the USCA Varsity Cheerleading International Cheerleading Championship.

Since 1994, Wepner has served as director and choreographer of the Hudson County Angels (formerly SVP and MetroCheer) which has won national championships 14 times.

“I’ve been coaching 40 years,” she said. “I started when I was 16 years old.”

Even though she had shown a record of winning prior to 1980, she said she became head coach for the first time at Marist.

“Before that I was always an assistant under a teacher,” she said. “Marist welcomed me with open arms.”

Marist didn’t have it easy. It was a little-known team in an era when the county had a number of powerhouse cheerleading teams in places like North Bergen, Hoboken, Union Hill, and St. Joseph’s.

She said Marist people came out in force to support her team during the championship, not just sports people, but everyone. She remembered winning the Hudson County championship at St. Peter’s College the first time, and thinking all she wanted to do was get in the top five out of the 15 competing teams.

“With all the powerhouse teams, nobody ever heard of Marist,” she said. “Going to St. Peter’s was like a movie. Nobody looked at us. All the girls were nervous. The other teams were all intimidating each other, but not us. I told my girls not to look at any of them, but to do their own routine.”

At the end, she recalled the countdown with Hoboken, St. Joe’s, and North Bergen placing in the top five. The more she heard, the more depressed she became. She thought they deserved to place.

“My girls started jumping up and down,” she said.

Marist had won first place. Some of her girls were crying. People from Holy Family Academy where she also coached and others from Marist and around Bayonne surrounded them.

“I never thought we would win,” she said. “I thought my head would pop. It didn’t’ hit me at first. I was used to winning, but to see these kids, I was stunned.”

But each championship over the years has its own rewards, because they are different girls and it’s always a different experience, she said.

“I’ve won so much I only keep the latest trophy, I give most of them to the girls,” she said.

Wepner said the key to her success was choreographing.

“I’m a choreographer by nature,” she said. “Great teams are a dime a dozen today. Everybody has won championships. But my teams are very original. Everywhere we go people come up to us and ask where we came from and say they never saw a team like ours.”

She said her skills involve motivating people and original routines. She said her girls work hard and that she runs a serious program.

“In my program, we’re hardcore cheerleaders. This is no joke. This is a sport. These girls are athletes.”

And what influence did her famous father have on her career?

“He is an incredible inspiration to me,” she said. “He taught me about … not settling for anything less.”

As fierce a competitor as she is, Wepner teaches her girls sportsmanship.

“These are not enemies, they’re on different teams, they will be friends, neighbors, coworkers. It’s not about beating each other, it’s about doing our best,” she said.



Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
(30)
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Avincent 4305
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December 13, 2013
Hello everyone I am Coach Amanda I coach the HCA youth team...I must say a few things...while some things you all are saying may be true a lot of things are also false. Now I may not know the whole story as to what went down this summer I do know that you all went your desperate ways. I can only speak for myself when I say I do miss most of the girls that left because they were great girls and awesome athletes but I understand being a parent you have to do what you feel us best for your child.

My daughter loves the program the coaches and all other cheerleaders most off all she just loves to cheer!

What I'm still trying to figure out though is why bash Charlene on this article about her accomplishments? This should be a positive thread of comments not parents and former parents going back and forth like catty women(no offense to anyone). Let Charlene be recognized for something she deserves because trust me everything in that article is true she did accomplish all that plus more.

All I am asking is if you ladies can please just stop with the bashing even of one another back and forth because even if you don't realize it the kids are listening and watching! Some of them have even made comments because they learn from us. Let us do what we do and you all do what you do In your organization. Again I can only speak for myself but I wish you all the best of luck and to have a great season! But please stop with the negative comments whenever you all get a chance it's becoming old and sometimes looking very bitter even though it may not be intended that way. You all have moved on so move forward and stop looking back. Again no disrespect to any of you!
Avincent4305
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December 13, 2013
No desperate ...seperate* sorry typo
dina ohare
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December 13, 2013
they cant they think they know everything and they know shit if I have anything to say I will call them as I have in the past I don't hide have no reason to just saying but I feel bad for pal because they have stupid ass arlena on the team thank god we don't useless is what she is

Monteleone
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December 13, 2013
Well said Amanda, but as you can see by Dina's reply to your post it will never stop. Funny though not once did anyone use a curse word until now....lol! Classy
IrishLadyLuck
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December 13, 2013
Garcia, a degree does not signify class, actions do. My husband has brought to my attention this morning that this childish, catty, vindictive behavior amongst females is the reason cheerleading is not taken seriously by anyone else but cheerleaders. He is right. It is sad that we are tearing each other down instead of building each other up & fighting together against the image. The saddest part of it all is that our children are not even involved in this and work too hard to have petty differences between the adults spoil the reputation of their sport. We are very happy at HCA & wish everyone else the same. Happy holidays to all.
Garcia0607
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December 13, 2013
I must have hit a nerve to make you respond and call me white trash!! Let me start by saying again there you go name calling behind a fake name… Oh and white trash let me define that word for you since you don’t own a dictionary: it’s actually a slang offensive term for white people that are impoverished! I am far from impoverished!! Oh you need me to define impoverished too?? Ok, its poor enough to need help from others and destroyed financially… Which I am neither of those things!!

You spoke about keeping things classy!! You allowed this to get ugly once you started with the name calling!! When everyone was just pointing out facts!!! I was the worst of them all and no one wanted their kids around me??? That’s a laugh!! It’s so funny I am still laughing!! I am a college graduate with AA is Early Childhood Education and have held teachers positions and family worker positions which means I’ve actually worked with children and earned the right to do so!!! Like I said before a background check on people who work with children is a great idea!! Oh and my filthy mouth was never used in front of the kids so what if I curse it shouldn’t make a difference to you!!!

I don’t think anyone’s post proved that we were bad people, just proves that weren’t willing to sit back and allow people like you or anyone for that matter to spread rumors and lies about us all!!! Yes we’re all very happy and we will always be good examples for our children!!!

HAVE A GREAT DAY!!! I look fwd to reading you next post full of lies and accusations about me and my friends!! Thanks for the great laugh this morning!! It was needed!!!

Monteleone
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December 13, 2013
LOL! we are just mean and horrible people. Let me ask you this "IRISH" isn't' it funny how HCA lost close to 20 cheerleaders? If you divide an average of 2 kids per family that's 10 parents that removed their children from the torture that is HCA. Now, I ask you this, is it all 20 parents( moms and dads ..simple math) that have the problem or is there one common denominator here?
IrishLadyLuck
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December 12, 2013
Garcia-I wanted to keep it classy and hate to stoop to your level but you also are one of the worst ones we had to deal with. In all honesty, if you look up white trash in the dictionary your picture would be there. You have a filthy disgusting mouth and no one ever wanted their children around you. There were complaints about all of you for years but Charlene would never do anything about it because she thought you were good people. As bad as it is, I am glad these posts proved me right. Let us hope your new organization is smart enough to keep all of you at arm’s length. We are glad you are gone. We are happy here and you are happy there and let us keep it that way and be good examples for our children.
Monteleone
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December 13, 2013
You know nothing about class. You're cheap at best!
Garcia0607
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December 12, 2013
IrishLadyLuck I have a pretty good idea of who you are!! If I am correct you've got some damn nerve talking about someones size!!! Your like a lil fat ompaloompa with crusty toes! I agree with Monteleone!! And I believe you should stop hiding behind a screename!!! The truth about your wonderful organization hurts I know!!! But truth is truth and these stories below are true!!!

And my circle of friends you speak of I wouldn't give them up for the world they are a great group of women, which I consider family!!! As far as people leaving because they were being replaced thats a joke!! As Lisa stated she and another two of our friends left because their children weren't happy anymore!! As far as the reason I left was not volunteery, I was willing to stay despite the fact that my friends and their girls left!! But NOOOO, my kids were kicked off due to a damn FACEBOOK POST on MY OWN PAGE!!! None of which was in anyway negative!! Sad right??? Yes, my girls were given the opportunity to come back after I called the 2nd director and was sobbing might I add!!! But I left the choice up to my daughter and she felt if Charlene could just throw her away that quickly why should she accept!! Besides the fact that she hadn't been happy with the organization for awhile!! So with that we didn't return, Not that I left because of being replaced!!

And if we were so intimidating why have us work up there for so long?? Why not replace us long ago?? Oh that's right because its not true!! Were there days that we had issues of course but we handled it accordingly!!! At least we never stole anyone's things!! If someone miss placed something it was always held in the CLOSET which you choose to call a damn OFFICE!!! Let's just call it what it is a damn CLOSET!!!! LOL...

Oh and yes being a parent that does everything up there is exhausting!! Between work, kids and daily routines it drains you completely!!

Yes were we signing the praises of the organization while we were there absolutely, but not always we expressed out displeasure when it needed to be!!! To each other, other parents and other family members!! And we also addressed our concerns that may have been had with Charlene, Donna or other coaches!! So don't act like we always acted like it was always like peaches n cream up there!!

P.S. you mentioned something about worrying about our organization that we're currently in believe me we are looking fwd to a great season which as already started you should ask Kim she saw 2 of our teams compete this past Sunday!!!

On that note I WISH ALL YOUR TEAMS BEST OF LUCK THIS SEASON!!!

Because the truth is I still have nieces and friends that are still there!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU & YOURS!!
IrishLadyLuck
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December 12, 2013
Monteleone, I wasn’t going to post any more but when you’re attacking the organization that me & my child are a part of I feel I must. I hate to say it but you were the worst of them all. You are a 7 foot amazon ogre who is the most miserable person I have ever met. You tried to use your size & your mouth to intimidate us all. Many of us parents would not even go near the office when we saw you sitting in there because of your negative presence. I’m sure your daughter does a lot of crying since she has to deal with you on a daily basis. As stated previously, move on already & let’s have everyone focus positively on their present situation.
Monteleone
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December 12, 2013
HA! Very funny because I was only in that room for a few weeks before making the choice to leave!! You can hide behind your username but I know who you are. You're disgusting and created a very hostile environment up there. My size and my mouth are the least of your concerns. Call me if you would like to discuss this further. 201-779-3503. THANKS SMOOCHES!!
Monteleone
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December 12, 2013
Everyone has their own opinion. BUT as a former MCA?HCA mom I am so happy with my choice to leave. The coaches treated my daughter like a slave so much so that I would have to drag her to practice. Since being with the new organization since Sept. she loves going to practice! No complaints No coming home crying!

Irishladyluck I offer you this advise. Don't go out of your way for anyone there, keep to yourself and make it only about YOUR daughter. Because once you start they will suck the life out of you until they can't use you anymore.

Also, watch your money because there is one person there who already has a criminal back round for embezzlement. Back round checks are an amazing tool!
lisacostanzo
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December 12, 2013
Irishladyluck there you go again, lol! Why dont you leave a name since you have so much to say? Let me correct you on saying I was not replaced but, I Myself, resigned from your organization. I have texts saved to show people like you that what you say is just not true. How would that look if she said 3 of her most dedicated moms have resigned? Bad right? Yes and thats why we were so called let go because of parents complaints, lmao. Thats a joke! I could have been a parent on the stage like all of you who claim to be so involved and paid my dues like you. If I did trust me I would have saved money. She talks about a years savings by doing the books, well I purchased more then you know and went well above the dues for a year. We were so bad? We busted our butts for those girls to have what they had and you can thank some of us dedicated parents that left. Im sorry, but again I dont remember you storing all tricky tray stuff in your house and getting late night calls for lists and other things! Nope that was me, and since I left whos doing it now? Not you I'm sure. Again I can go on and on, but you my dear are not worth it until you come forward! So get the last word if you want, but I am officially done!!!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
IrishLadyLuck
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December 12, 2013
Everyone knows that you & your circle left because you were replaced due to many complaints by parents in this organization. I myself never complained but was relieved, as were many others, when those changes were made. I have done many things for this organization; my daughter has moved up once in three years, is working hard & is very happy. As far as I can see, all the coaches are working with all the teams this year & are doing an amazing job. The senior team division is 18 years old & under & based on talent. My niece is 10 years old & on one of the best senior all-star teams in her state. I’ve heard some negative stories from people who have left your new organization as well. Talk to me after 20 years of their existence & I’m sure they’ll be plenty more. There’s always good & bad stories, it comes with the territory. It’s funny how just six months ago you were singing the praises of our organization & bad mouthing your new one. If you are as happy as you say you are then focus your positive energy on your own program instead of negative energy on ours. You’re gone, move on, best of luck & best wishes for a happy holiday season.
Lisacostanzo
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December 11, 2013
Why is no one leaving their names? If you are gonna write something, then own it! Especially you irishladyluck, who claims that everyone else should, ha your a joke too. I was very involved with the organization and did a whole lot for Charlene. But let me tell you, if you can't do for her at the moment when she wants it then she will replace you, so keep that in mind. She may be pleasant now with the girls and involved with all teams because she lost atleast 30 girls just this past summer. She has no choice to be super to these kids. But let me give you a few reasons why I left. #1, she told my 10yr old daughter she sucked after a 4 hr clinic where these girls busted their butts and gave up a Saturday for her. #2, she had my daughter and a few girls work on a poster for her pool party, $55 later that came out of my pocket once again and 6 hrs of their time, to tell me to throw it away because now coach Priscilla was gonna do one instead. When I asked her if she wanted it for the gym she said "NO". Wow really!?! You care for these girls. #3, if you do enough for her your daughter will move up without question. May be the reason my daughter was on senior team last yr. And I laugh cause 8 and 9 yr olds on a senior team is a joke. Just means your team can't put girls their own size up. I can go on and on but I'll stop. But you irishLadyLuck made me even respond to such petty bs. How dare you say to whoever you think it is you are talking to that you and others are happy we left cause of our negativity because that entire organization is nothing but negative. My daughter moved on to pal/Bayonne elite and they are nothing but positive and shall I say organized, oh yes and age appropriate for their teams! So on that note how bout you come forward with your name since you condemn others about not leaving theirs and oh yes being negative! Remember irishladyluck, if you have nothing nice to say then maybe you should keep it to yourself!!! And MERRY CHRISTMAS to you as well!!!!
IrishLadyLuck
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December 11, 2013
This is our third year in this organization and as stated before, we love it and so do many other people. I have nothing else to say other than you are wished much happiness because there are many people in this organization who are much happier now that you and your negative energy circle of friends are gone. Happy holidays and all the best.
IrishLadyLuck
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December 09, 2013
I am an HCA mom and my daughter and I love this organization. Our experience here has not only been great but my daughter has made many new friends whom she has become close with. She enjoys practice and loves her coaches. Everyone's experiences are different and its not nice to bad mouth people especially anonymously. My daughter and I are very happy and I feel if you don't have anything nice to say its a good thing that your not in our organization anymore.
Anonymous2002
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December 10, 2013
This must be your first year there n haven't stayed for practices or dealt with Charlene on a one to one basis!! I was a parent for years there! Yes my children have some great memories from the organization but the bad outweighs the good believe me!! Eventually you shall see!! N the reason no one puts their name is because there is no reason to!! Anonymity is always best at times, because there would be retaliation on the child/children!! They would be the one to suffer!!
Anonymous2002
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December 10, 2013
Just curious to why you condemning people for not using their names on here, because in reality neither did u!
johnnybayonne
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December 07, 2013
I graduated Marist in 1985 & at that time it was still an all-boys school. Marist was an all boys school until either 1986 or 1987. How then was Ms. Wepner the Marist girls cheerleading coach since 1980? You run a front page story & don't even fact check? Shame, shame. It makes one question what other facts of the story are incorrect.
johnnybayonne
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December 07, 2013
I graduated Marist in 1985 & at that time it was still an all-boys school. Marist was an all boys school until either 1986 or 1987. How then was Ms. Wepner the Marist girls cheerleading coach since 1980? You run a front page story & don't even fact check? Shame, shame. It makes one question what other facts of the story are incorrect.
JimHague
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December 08, 2013
Marist has had cheerleaders forever. The cheerleaders came from Holy Family Academy, but they cheered for Marist...so Ms. Wepner could have been coaching the cheerleaders then.

There's no need to question the work of Mr. Sullivan because of an oversight....there have always been Marist cheerleaders since the school opened in the 1960s

former MCA / HCA mon
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December 06, 2013
Ms. Wepner doesn't care about the safety of the kids cheering. My daughter was dropped by one if her "A" list instructors. I was told injuries happen. Well yes they do but not by being dropped.

Also, any money raised by my daughter through canning was subject to a 20% cut to go to expenses for canning such as the plastic containers she used to collect money. My daughter raised $150 by going car to car on the streets of Bayonne begging got money and Ms. Wepner took 20% of it while she was home eating bon bons.

Her titles are a joke, only entering events she knows she can win. How can you call yourself a winner if you dont compet against the best. One event we won by default because we were the only team there in our level...lol

Stay away from her organization!
m.t.b.o
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December 06, 2013
she was always a bully.........she's a bitch,that's why it's still wepner,who would marry her..she's hard on those children.
bob.thon
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December 08, 2013
If Ms. Wepner enters the girls into competitions in which you describe to be a "win only" competition then explain to me why on some occasions do her teams place in second or maybe third? Also, assuming that Ms. Wepner enters her teams in events that she knows she can win then why would one of her teams receive Grand Champions? (If you didn't already know Grand Champions is when the team scores higher than any other team in the competition including teams of higher level/difficulty.) Just Sayin. PS.Injuries are always addressed appropriately according to their how severe the injury truly is. As you should know as a cheer leading parent injuries happen quite often as with any competitive sport.
Anonymous2002
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December 10, 2013
Yes bob injuries happen in any sport and are dealt with accordingly but there are times that girls get hurt n the parent isn't even notified!! Even a minor injury should be addressed don't you think??? Hmmm..

If you refer back to other posts about her wins n how they are obtained it's from researching the competition if she feels that her team n mostly her Senior team will be beat she won't put them in a competition.. Her 2nd n 3rd place wins are usually her Junior n Youth teams ( the ones she's least focused on)!! Her grand champion titles?? Lol.. Again it was a Senior team that goes n there was no competition to be had cause the other teams weren't good!! Her own Junior team went once that I can remember and Got 2nd only because they went up against real competition!! And the teams the Juniors went up against and got 1st did beat her Senior team as grand champs in VA... Also Hershey a youth team beat her Senior team as grand champs.
Anonymous2002
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December 05, 2013
Sorry to say but she doesn't give trophies to the girls they are all around the gym!! The reason they win a lot these days is because they go up against no one most of the time!! And teaches them sportsmanship that's a laugh!! Yes her choreography is original n awesome!! But let's stop the lies because her current orginazation HCA formally known as MCA is a joke n so is she!! Shes not a true winner n if she's doesn't win there's holy hell to pay especially when these girls bust their butts for her n do everything possible!! She's nothing but a bully has been for years!!! They're thieves of money for people that bust their butts to keep their children in the program!!! Honor a truly good person that enjoys dedicating their time to children not a fake!!!
Anonymous aaa
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December 05, 2013
I totally agree!!! Awful experience, this woman is not about doing your best she's about winning! So in order to do that, she researched every competition and opposing team to ensure a win! Pretty sad if that's what she considers good sportsmanship! Not to mention none of her teams have ever gone up against more then 2 teams. I would rather put my child in an organization that is not scared of a little competition or scared to come in 3,4 or 5th place. What are you teaching these kids if they never ever lose? You are teaching them nothing! Not to mention she goes in 3-5 comps a year after practicing for 10 months. What a waste. Do yourself a favor and of your daughter wants to cheer find another organization, there are plenty in the area. Not to mention if your daughter has money in her account and you decide to leave "you will lose every penny you worked for and lose gear you already paid for!" Do yourself a favor and save the heartache and go elsewhere!!!!!
Anonymous cccc
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December 05, 2013
That's is so very true about that program I really feel bad for those good girls going threw all this practices for nothing and she talks about sportsmanship ha ha she don't have any at all it's all a lie people I think she should really find out the real meaning of being a sportsmanship.