London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Trista Smitten may be just 23 years old, but she has 10 years behind her as the leader of a successful cheerleading program.
Smitten and her mother, Tami, started Xtreme Cheerleading 10 years ago in Midland. Over the years, the business has branched out to locations in Barrie, Orillia and Newmarket. After moving to London to attend Western University, Smitten decided to step back from coaching and just do choreography with some of the local programs.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take her long to realize she needed something more.
“This was the first year I kind of took a step back from coaching. I would do choreography at the other gyms, but it wasn’t the same,” Smitten said. “It becomes who you are, a piece of you, your identity, and I felt like it was taken away. So I am following my heart and seeing if I can do something here.”
Smitten said the plan to open up a London branch of Xtreme has been underway for “probably two or three months.” When she came to London, Smitten began working for two local programs, but ones that didn’t have the same “mentality” that she has used at Xtreme.
“It (working for others) wasn’t letting me express who I am and what we (at Xtreme) have become. I have had a lot of success in my 10 years and so I thought maybe I just need to be on my own,” Smitten said. “I think there is a benefit to keeping it small, keeping it more of a family relationship. I think that family atmosphere is what has brought Xtreme so much success.”
That success is something Smitten said has proven invaluable in starting the London location. Word of mouth, Smitten said, has her phone “ringing off the hook,” as people look to join Xtreme.
Even with such enthusiasm behind her brand, Smitten said she wants to cap the London operation at 20 per team instead of the 34 kids that are allowed. As with students in a classroom, Smitten said there is real benefit to have fewer participants on each of the club’s teams.
“I don’t want it to be overwhelming. I would like to have a smaller group. I think it is beneficial for the relationships. With so many kids, you don’t get to know everyone,” Smitten said. “Three teams would be great for our first year. That would be a dream come true.”
Although word of mouth has helped, Smitten will be holding a tryout on Saturday, Sept. 8, at London BEJE Gymnastics, on Richmond Street. The tryouts go by age, but it will start at 3 p.m.
Smitten said the plan is to look for kids in the 3-5 age range for what she calls a recreational division is recreational. “If they can all just be there at the same time that’s enough.”
The kids in the age next group, 6-8, will progress further, Smitten said, and will have more skills mastered. They will even take part in competitions. At the higher age levels, 9-11, 12-14, 15-18, the skill difference is thin, Smitten said, but the maturity of the students is where the differences are most noticeable.
Smitten said she is unsure how many people to expect when the club gets underway in the middle of the month. Although Smitten said she would be thrilled with 50 students in the inaugural club, there is a “good chance we could have quite a few more than that.”
Another reason Smitten said the club could do really well right from the start — in terms of numbers at least — is the talent pool in the Forest City
“There is a ton of talent here in London. I definitely think there are a lot of fostering programs around. A lot of good dance studios, gymnastic clubs. They really help with the fundamentals of cheerleading,” Smitten said. “This city has had some really great coaches, passionate coaches, who really like what they do. That has kept a lot of kids interested.”
As for what keeps her interested after 10 years of competition and coaching, Smitten credits what she said is the end result of what her program can do for young athletes.
“The most rewarding thing, I can’t tell you how many emails I have got from parents saying you have shaped my kid’s life,” Smitten said. “I have had teachers say a particular student has really benefited so much. To have impacted so many kids’ lives, there is just nothing like it.”
For more information on Xtreme Cheerleading, phone 519-639-9858 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A new Xtreme Cheerleading website is still in the design stages.
Find us on Facebook: London Community News