Northwest Silver Stars proves itself as a top cheer program

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 13, 2014 

The Northwest Silver Stars are competing in a national cheer event on May 2 in Orlando, Fla.

BRIAN CARON — Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

It will all come down to 180 seconds, and they must be perfect.

For 2 1/2 minutes every trick, kick, flip, stunt, tumble and lift must be without error for 20 girls from local cheer gym, Northwest Silver Stars.

On May 2 in Orlando, the tier four cheer team from Bellingham will compete against the best teams in the world as part of the Summit National Championship and it will be broadcast live on ESPN3. The Summit is a collection of various national champions from different competitions.

The nerves will no doubt be immense, but that's when almost 10 hours a week of training will pay off. That training comes from one of the best coaches in the region, two-time Coach of the Year Christina Archer.

Archer started Northwest Silver Stars, a cheer gym for kids ages 7 to 18, in 2000. It's the longest standing cheer program in Washington and won the 2013 Pacific Northwest Program of the Year, topping larger schools with athletes who come into the programs more polished.

"It meant a lot," said Archer of the award, which is voted on by gym owners throughout the region. "The other gym owners saw that we support other gyms. Our kids have manners and sportsmanship. It was nice to have our character recognized."

The demonstration of character doesn't just come naturally for the more than 100-student gym. It is engrained into every practice and meeting the teams do.

Teachable spirit, discipline, team first, integrity, respect, courtesy, gratitude, perseverance, finish strong - those words line the walls of the gym located in the industrial area of Hannegan Road. It is more than just about cheer, it's about training kids to be people.

"It takes a village to raise a child," Archer said. "We try to be a voice in that village."

To teach those models to the athletes, each team has weekly team meetings where the girls can discuss any problems they are having as well as figure out how to apply what they are learning in the gym to other areas of their life.

The team meetings used to get pushed aside if a practice wasn't going perfectly or the girls needed more traning. That's no longer the case.

Archer realized the importance of the meetings to the kids, who know they will have a chance to sit down once a week with their mentors.

The meetings are especially necessary on some of the more competitive teams, such as the one going to Orlando. With 20 girls spending at least 10 hours a week with each other all year, conflicts arise and the meetings are a place to solve it.

"Obviously there are a lot of emotions and the athletes can get sucked in; the coaches can get sucked in," Archer said. "But they're elite; they're workers."

With so much hard work, that same tier four team that's going to Orlando was getting burnt out leading up to their section of the national championship. Then they won a bid to the Summit, and it was a whole new story.

"Twenty girls plus a female coach can get tense," Archer said. "I know what they're capable of, but sometimes they don't realize it. I have to push them. When we won the bid, it was a whole new team. They realized 'Hey, we are capable.'"

The 20 girls showed their desire to compete at the Summit over spring break. With nine days off, technique and practice could have easily slipped out the window. But nobody showed rust upon returning to the gym more than a week later.

"I assigned them daily, intense workouts and they did them," Archer said with a proud smile. "You want to know how I know they did them? Because it showed in the practice."

With Archer at the helm and 20 motivated girls, Northwest Silver Stars looks like a true competitor to win the Summit. There's a reason it's the longest standing gym in Washington, it produces good results.

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