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A cheery future for SCV All-Stars

Danielle Wick finds her life’s passion in cheerleading

Posted: January 29, 2009 7:01 p.m.
Updated: January 30, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Students practice a cheer stunt under the watchful eyes of the SCV All-Stars staff, which includes five coaches for 13 teams in five age categories. The SCV All-Stars will host a Texas Hold 'Em Fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 28, at Valencia Country Club to benefit the team's trip in April to the World Championships in Orlando, Fla.

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They fly through the air, sometimes with the greatest of ease, sometimes not. Three hundred cheerleaders, ranging in age from 5 to 18, jumping, tumbling, dancing, stunting, tossing and forming pyramids intensely practicing for a two and a half minute shot at championship glory.

They are the SCV All-Stars, coached by Danielle Wick, a petite leader who looks scarcely older than some of the girls she forms into athletes at her 12,000-square-foot cheerleading facility in the industrial center off Rye Canyon Road.

"It's so exciting to see these kids do things they thought they could never do, whether it's performing in front of a large audience or nailing a certain skill. They walk away more confident and stronger people for the experience," Wick said. "Parents often tell me they have never seen their child fall in love with a sport like this before."

That was certainly the case for Christy Wrage of Valencia, whose daughter Kenzie, 12, has been an SCV All-Star for almost four years.

"We put Kenzie in every sport you could imagine but she never excelled, until cheering. Now she cheers nonstop at home. Sometimes she even cheers up and down the aisles at grocery stores," Wrage said with a laugh. "It's really opened her up. Her confidence and strength is unbelievable."

One of the fastest growing sports on the planet, popularized by Hollywood hits like "Bring It On," cheerleading involves 3.4 million people in the United States alone, and there are at least six million cheerleaders world-wide representing 38 countries, according to Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football and cheerleading organization.

The sport gave Wick motivation to carry on after narrowly missing a shot at high-level competitive gymnastics.

"What do you do when you realize you're not going to go to the Olympics? I was washed up at 15," she said.

After noticing the tumbling elements she loved about gymnastics were a large part of cheerleading, Wick joined an All-Star team during her high school years in Bakersfield. She taught gymnastics while attending The Master's College; after graduation, Wick began coaching cheer.

In 2002, Wick rented space at Valencia's Legacy Private Academy for an initial group of 15 cheerleaders.

Word of mouth soon spread and in the second year, "Club Cheer" enrollment grew to 55, then to 125, then to 220, prompting Wick into renting progressively larger spaces until finally settling into the Constellation Road location in March, 2008, and evolving into the SCV All-Stars.

Currently, there are five coaches at the gym presiding over 13 teams in five age categories: 5 and under, 8 and under, 11 and under, 14 and under, and 18 and under. The SCV All-Star program runs May through April, with tryouts determining team lineups and individual positions.

"We get a lot of kids who see cheerleading on TV and want to be a part of it. Some are former gymnasts.

Others have never done anything in cheer and decide they want to try out for cheerleading in high school.

Whatever the age or ability level, we can fit them in," said Dan Cowan, operations director and Wick's father.

The SCV All-Star program costs approximately $175 - $200 per child, per month. The program fee includes all coaching (usually five hours per week), classes, uniforms, and any other items used in competition.

"It's all one price so parents know what to expect every month. We don't want to nickel and dime people.

From tennis shoes to makeup, it's all included. It's a good value," Cowan said.

Competition is where cheerleading can get pricey. There are approximately nine annual competitions, mostly in the west, sometimes requiring the additional expense of driving, meals on the road, and hotel stays. Moms such as Wrage and Castaic's Hope Bagge, whose daughters are on the same team, try to carpool to cut down on costs.

A recent second-place finish at the American Grand Championships in Las Vegas earned "Team Fusion" a bid to perform at the World Championships in Orlando, Fla. in April, leading the mothers to put together a Texas Hold ‘Em Fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Valencia Country Club.

"Cheerleading is so beneficial, " Bagge said.

Wick has high hopes for her cheerleaders to place at the World Championships.

"This is a very prestigious title. Some of the teams we compete against never achieve this level of accomplishment and we did it on our first try," she said.

Besides their technical skills, cheering is all about cooperation, loyalty, and perseverance. Cheerleaders count on each other not only to perform to the best of their ability, but to make the overall team look good. One slight misstep can cost crucial competition points, so the girls learn to smile through the pain.


"People think it's hard being the base, because you get hit, but I never let a flyer fall. They'll land on me before I let them land on the floor," Maysen Bagge, 13, said.

That's the kind of commitment that makes Coach Wick proud. "They work through the hard times and come out more confident and accomplished at the end. They definitely want to be the best, they want to succeed," she said.

After high school, those that stay in the game can use cheerleading as a stepping stone to a higher education. Kenzie Wrage plans to become a college-level cheerleader; today, over 60 universities offer full or partial athletic scholarships for the sport. "I love cheerleading, I practice at home all the time. The competitions are great. It's so much fun to, like, meet new people and go to new places," she said.

The prospect is entirely possible, as Wick sees it. "We get college coaches coming up to us at competitions that will say about a particular cheerleader, ‘Send her my way in five or ten years,'" Wick said. "We're still a young program, but I already see a lot of stars here."

SCV All-Stars is located at 28335 Constellation Road, Valencia. Open Monday - Saturday, 3 p.m. - 9 p.m. For more information, call (661) 775-0994 or visit www.scvallstars.com. For more information on the Team Fusion Texas Hold ‘Em Fundraiser, call (661) 295-8148.

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