COVID-19 hits the cheer industry


The pandemic which has been rapidly spreading throughout the nation within the past few weeks has affected nearly every single individual in one way or another. Major cities such as New York or Las Vegas have gone completely dark. Grocery stores are busier than they have ever been with ransacked shelves. Schools are closed and sports are seasons over. And most of all, people are hiding in their homes in an effort to socially distance themselves.

The people who have been most affected by this pandemic happens to be small business owners who have been forced to close down for an undetermined amount of time.

The cheer industry in particular—alike to other sports at this time—is one of the worst to be hit and is currently shut down. Head coach, Desiree Houg, explains that “the world of all-star cheer is severely impacted and high school cheer is at a standstill,” she goes on further with, “for high school cheer, nothing major will be missed. However, for all-star cheer, some of the biggest events have been canceled or postponed indefinitely.”

Governor Doug Ducey has announced that, as of now, gyms will remain closed until at least April 30th. Furthermore, because of this, people such as Ryan Wakefield—who works as a full-time cheer coach—are experiencing a rather tough time with the closure.

Ryan Wakefield, a tumbling coach for Empire Elite All-Stars and multiple different high schools has had more time on his hands now than he has in many years. 

He explains that “it’s hard not seeing the athletes because I’m normally around these kids 24/7. It’s also hard not having any income coming in at all, but with the new COVID-19 bill passing, it will give me enough money for food and bills, but not working is not my ideal,”

Above that, with this being the cheerleading seniors last year, they are disappointed and sad at the fact that they will not get the traditional end to their cheerleading season.

Coach Houg explains, “they did not prepare for this, as none of us did. They didn’t expect that they already had their last practice, their last full out, their last assembly and such, so I think coming to terms with all of those things is a challenge.”

Despite all the negative factors, luckily, for school cheer at least, the competitive season has technically ended meaning that as of now, things for next season will not be too badly affected. 

The only obstacle is the postponed tryouts which would have taken place in April; however, as they would not have started training the new recruits until June, pushing it back is not an issue unless summer plans are also canceled.

“All the athletes now agree that they will never take the ability to be at practice for granted again. There is a whole new appreciation that comes with being told they can’t practice,” Coach Houg stated.