CA Cheer & Dance

by Tonya Dixon | September 11th, 2013
CA Cheer & Dance Members (Photos by Shaw Photography)

CA Cheer & Dance Members (Photos by Shaw Photography)

Sisters Anitra Goode and Claudja Dwight have been involved in some aspect of cheerleading, dance, and competition since their youth. Therefore, it was no surprise when the tandem decided to turn their love and passion for the sport into a thriving business. The sisters are the owners of Carolina Athletix All-Stars or CA Cheer and Dance.

All-Star cheerleading is much more than the prototypical cheerleading squad. In All-Star cheerleading, team members are not cheering and rooting for separate teams. As Goode puts it, “they [cheerleaders] are the team and they cheer for themselves.” Both Goode and Dwight are teachers and are cheerleading coaches by profession. Both Goode and Dwight have more than 25 years of experience. Dwight has been dancing since she was four years old and Goode has cheered and danced for just as long. In fact, Goode was Dwight’s cheerleading coach in high school. The level of knowledge and expertise they bring to cheerleading is unparalleled.

Together they have successfully conducted several cheerleading camps and clinics throughout the Greensboro area in conjunction with local schools. They have been involved with professional cheer and dance squads such as the Charlotte Bobcats Dance Team and The Greensboro Revolution Cheer and Dance Teams. They choreograph, judge, and provide instruction for all skill levels, yet had never seriously considered establishing their own team. In 2004, the opportunity to start an all-star cheerleading program presented itself and in 2005 the team came to fruition.

“We didn’t have much money and we didn’t have any space of our own, but we found a place with reasonable rent and we got started,” says Goode. From the beginning, CA Cheer experienced unprecedented success. The business partners were already well known and highly respected as coaches. Their reputation was the only advertisement needed. As a matter of fact, Dwight says they never needed promotion or marketing and 100% of their business came through referrals.

CA Cheer works with ages three years and up. They have a mini team (ages three to six years), two junior teams (14 years and under) and a senior team. Initially, the CA Cheer mini team was the strongest in competition. “The little ones are serious. They want to show you what they know,” says Dwight. “They are tumbling, doing forward rolls, back bends, hand stands, and they do stunts. They are the fliers and they have no fear. They get excited and are focused. They are very proud of what they can do.”

With a Cheer staff coach for each particular age group, the young members quickly learn the fundamentals. As the girls (and boys too) grow in age and ability, they gradually become involved in the more challenging stunts and routines. Nevertheless, no matter what age or skill level a child is at, Goode says there is a team for everyone. No one is ever turned away. Many of the older kids involved were actually CA Cheer inaugural members. They began on the mini teams (ages 3-8 years old) and have progressed to the higher level junior and senior teams.

Although participating on the all-star squad is a fun and exhilarating experience, the members know, recognize and accept the dedication required. Practices are demanding and strenuous. Practice is at least three days per week and each day of the week leading up to competition day.

Competition season spans from late November to May. During the postseason, evaluations, conditioning sessions and practices continue for everyone. Both Dwight and Goode acknowledge the fact that cheerleading is not for every child. “You have to recognize it in your child and then you have to ask your child if they want to do it. They have to want to do it,” says Dwight. Practice schedules are rigorous and requires dedication and hard work. A key factor within the sport is building endurance, strength training, and running. On the other hand, the reward is certainly fulfilling.

Since it’s formation, CA Cheer has competed in several local and regional competitions and has received national invites, receiving nothing less than third place in it’s few appearances. According to the coaches, year by year the teams have increased maturity levels and have performed better than before. They reiterate to the girls that placement in competitions is a direct reflection of what is done in the gym.

However, CA Cheer will always remain a family regardless of how full or thin the roster is. Goode strongly endorses the family concept as the reason they execute so well as a group. She believes team members are retained at a high rate because they make it a point to develop strong relationships throughout the team. They believe it to be one of the contributing factors to the team’s success. “All of the girls are friends and help one another. The older girls help the younger ones and the younger ones look up to them. Many of them think they can’t do it, but we tell them, yes you can, we will show you how and you will be great at it,” says Goode.

CA Cheer is a model for excellence within all-star cheerleading. It would seem difficult to top the current structure, but the team is taking it a step further and now offers dance as well. The non-competitive dance team members are taught all aspects of dance, from ballet and tap to jazz, by established and qualified dance teachers. Everything about the company displays development and improvement. Even the booster program, primarily run by the team member’s parents, is growing and providing a greater level of excitement and enthusiasm for the team.

Expectations are high and high standards are outlined within the Carolina Athletix camp, but team confidence is what both Goode and Dwight hope will distance the team from the rest of the pack.

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