Posted at: 04/07/2013 6:22 PM
Updated at: 04/07/2013 10:51 PM
By: Laurie Stribling
Duluth's only all star, cheer team is starting up, and athletes of all ages came out Sunday for an open gym.
The new program is called the Ice All Stars and they'll be practicing at the Woodland Community Center. Co-owners Chelsie Waller and Ashley Penny said they're excited to bring competitive cheerleading to the Northland.
"We both are super passionate about the industry and about the sport," Waller said. "We wanted to bring this opportunity up here."
"We thought why not do our own and just bring what the rest of the country has in cheerleading to this area," Penny said.
About 50 people came out Sunday to warm up and test their skills before the big tryout weekend April 20 and 21. Waller said it's also a good opportunity for girls to get comfortable.
Tay Teaona Boykin was one of the cheerleaders at the open gym. She's from Superior and has been doing gymnastics for 15 years.
"I like tumbling and stunting the most," Boykin said.
Boykin also said she's glad to see an all star team come to Duluth.
"There's a lot of teams in the South and it's not really big in the North," Boykin said. "So, having a lot of people come to this one can expand all star teams in the North."
Cody Hester from Esko was also at the practice. He said he learned most of his tumbling from YouTube videos and researching online.
"No formal training at all," Hester said. "We get called crazy all the time."
Coaches Waller and Penny said cheerleading also builds character.
"It brings confidence," Penny said. "It teaches kids dedication, hard work. It shows them what it means to be on a team."
Hester said that is one reason he loves the sport.
"It gives me that sense of feeling that I can be myself and just do whatever I want and have fun with it," Hester said. "You get a good connection with everybody."
There is one more open gym session before tryouts on April 14.
The coaches are hoping to put together several teams with cheerleaders of all ages. Waller said they hope to compete in 6 to 8 competitions this year.
If you want more information about the Ice All Stars, head to their Facebook page by clicking here.