Earlier this summer, Hornets Cheerleading was named the winner of GTM Sportswear’s first Catalog Contest. The Hornets, along with two other teams, were part of a Facebook voting process where a winner was declared based on the number of “likes” its photo received. The Hornets ran away with the competition, winning by almost 500 votes.
“We’re so honored by the outpouring of support,” said Program Coordinator Eric Hoffman. “And we’re so thrilled to have this opportunity to honor the wonderful hard work our cheerleaders, coaches and families put into the program.”
Now in its 10th year, the Hornet’s program has tripled in size since its inception to around 160 athletes and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Hornets have earned 35 National Championships and have won the Impact Program of Excellence seven years running.
Hornets Cheerleading operates through Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Ga., which is about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta. Two to three volunteer coaches lead each team, and cheerleaders range from pre-kindergarteners to 12th graders.
Since coaches are unpaid and the Hornets are able to use the church’s facilities, the program is able to keep costs low.
“Our fee to sign up is about a fourth of what the least expensive All-Star gyms charge,” Hoffman said.
This wonderful benefit provides aspiring cheerleaders who may not be able to participate in expensive cheerleading programs because of financial reasons with the chance to fulfill their dream.
“We also have a lot of cheerleaders who are homeschooled and don’t have the opportunity to cheer for a school team” Hoffman said.
Five years ago, Hornets Cheerleading started a special needs team that, like the rest of the program, has only grown in popularity. This year the Hornets have about 15 athletes.
After competing in Atlanta’s CHEERSPORT special needs division competition last year and seeing performances by incredibly talented and driven teams, Hoffman said the Hornets’ special needs team is inspired to reach that same level.
“We competed against special needs team that were really, really impressive. They competed often and you could tell,” Hoffman said. “It was amazing because our special needs families got the chance to see that there’s a great big world out there in competitive cheerleading and a lot of opportunities.”
Special needs team coach Laura Watts said there is no greater joy than coaching the cheerleaders she works with.
“These cheerleaders have confidence and joy that knows no bounds,” Watts said. “They light up every platform they perform on.”
Hornets Cheerleading competes in the Impact competition circuit, which was designed by the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders. The program is loosely modeled after All-Star cheerleading, as it follows the same rules.
Faith is a huge part of the Hornets program and each team holds a devotional at each practice. High school squad coach Tracey Forman said coaching provides a great opportunity to minister to young people.
“I love to see them succeed at cheerleading, but I can’t even put into words how exciting it is to see them grow in their relationship with Christ,” Forman said.
“They amaze me with their cheer abilities and inspire me to be a good role model.”
As winners of the first GTM Sportswear Catalog Contest, the Hornets will receive GTM apparel, have a photoshoot in their hometown and will be featured in a full-page spread in the October Cheer catalog.