Modern American Cheer: a winning team culture marked by hard work and dedication
By: Jessica Dusek
Photos by: Mark Joseph/Darklab Photography
“We don’t call them rules; we call them standards. People tend to break the rules; our team culture rises up to the standards,” describes Chris Torres with an inspirational tone in his voice. In 2014, Chris and his wife, Sadie, opened Modern American Cheer (MAC), a platform for competitive cheerleading and character building.
“I grew up playing sports,” Torres explains. “My kids were in sports – my whole life I’ve been around it.” South Texas natives, Chris and Sadie came from strong values. Opening their side venture, they wanted “to provide a great cheerleading experience – to grow and view failures and successes as learning experiences for themselves, the athletes and everyone involved within the program.”
This is something Torres and his team of coaches reinforce to their student athletes. “The purpose of organization is to provide athletic development of a student in cheerleading and tumbling.” Torres notes the anecdotal, “hard work and dedication,” yet reinforces the team dynamic: “There is no one left behind.” He states assuredly that the team is not about any one person individually. All roles have equal value, and the athletes have learned to accept their role.
Consciously placing teammates of similar ages reinforces a relational advantage for MAC’s teams. MAC has gained popularity due to their leadership and commitment of providing a great cheerleading experience. They are supported by a team of eight, including the husband-and-wife entrepreneurs. “We focus on maintaining competitive teams,” Torres says.
Currently, MAC is the largest competitive cheering gym in Corpus Christi. They house 120 all-star competitive cheerleading students, ranging from ages 4 to 18 years old. They also provide tumbling instruction to approximately 65 outside students. MAC has several contracts with CCISD to train high-school cheerleaders and is currently working on contract negotiations with the Texas A&M Islander cheerleading team.
The organization took three teams to compete in a Nationals competition in New Orleans back in April. All three teams won their respective divisions. This marks the fifth time this season that all teams have competed in the same venue and emerged victorious. Each year, training season begins June 1 and carries into May of the following year.
Each student initially does a tryout to land a spot on the team. “The teams’ focus is on leadership and discipline and team culture,” Torres explains. “I think that is very important. I really like to push our coaches and athletes to they make sure they learn all of these different lessons. Being a part of a team is an absolute must.”
Torres adds that, “all kids learn at a different rate.” Understanding this allows MAC to recognize and work individually with students. Although last-minute routine tweaks and technical plans can change, Torres recalls one success story during a competition in Galveston:
“During the warm-up, we actually had one of our athletes break her arm. The coaches had to make adjustments to the routine to be able to still perform it the way it was intended. It was a very difficult task, and not many teams would be able to do so. We were just glad for the opportunity and very proud of the resilience and adversity our team sustained. They were still able to perform – and win against their division.”
MAC has become the only gym in Corpus Christi that provides a space for college-recruit clinics. “Scholarships can be offered on the spot!” Torres says with enthusiasm. The gym provides a chance for Corpus Christi students to compete on higher levels. The spotlight has begun to shine on Corpus Christi, as coaches from Blinn College and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have come down to recruit students. The coaches are currently working on increasing the presence of the University of Kentucky recruiters.
Training to be a cheerleader
Training to be an all-star competitive cheerleader does not just involve flipping and stunting. “Most young cheerleaders will enter our teams without a clear understanding of what a good athletic attitude is,” Torres explains. “An athletic attitude must be clearly defined, taught and expected.” Character building and physical conditioning are nearly 50 percent of what a cheerleader must endure throughout the season.
Educating the parents
“It is also working and communicating with the parents,” Torres says. “The statistics show that 70 percent of kids that play youth sports quit at the age of 13 because of the athletic relationship they have with their parents. The best way to deal with it is to educate our parents with literature or guest speakers who may be experts in this field. We have several items posted on our website for the parents to view and educate themselves to have the parent support their child needs to be successful.”
When asked what he foresees over the next five years, Torres says, “definitely growing and expanding! What continues to inspire us is observing these kids grow and develop good character.” With plans to expand its outside space, MAC is presently in the inquiry phase of land acquisition and new building design. “We have a lot of planning ahead of us and want to continue to provide excellent customer service and a positive experience.”
The MAC Gym is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays for private lessons only; and Saturdays for tumbling from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cheerleading monthly packages are available, as well as unlimited packages. For more information, please visit www.modernamericancheer.com.