Most cheerleaders and dancers join a team at a young age just looking for a hobby or an afterschool activity. But after years of practicing, conditioning, long game days, and competition weekends, these athletes look back on the hours spent with their teammates and realize that cheer and dance taught them a lot more than just the skills they learned on the mat.
Cheer and dance teaches athletes hard work, dedication, accountability, and many more life lessons that will stick with them long after their days on the sidelines are done.
This summer, Varsity TV is catching up with current and former college athletes, coaches, and staff instructors to find out why they love cheer and dance and to learn about the lessons they learned throughout their careers.
Meet Asia Chatman!
While Asia Chatman is known for her cheerleading skills, what most people don't know is that she actually started out as a dancer taking lessons at Orlando Ballet and performing hip hop with a recreational team.
"The first time I went to compete for dance, I saw the cheerleaders and instantly knew I wanted cheerleading to be my future."
After making the switch from dance, she went on to cheer at Cheer Corp Allstars (now Brandon Allstars) and she competed on Angels at Orlando Allstars (now Top Gun Orlando). She also cheered all four years on varsity at Winter Park High School.
After graduation, Chatman moved on to cheer at the University of West Georgia. During her time there, she was a member of the U.S. National All Girl Team. Throughout her years, Asia has won three state championships and two UCA College National Championships.
She is now in her second year as an assistant coach at the University of West Georgia. Chatman also works full time with Varsity Spirit as a V!ROC Director and a cheerleading instructor for UCA.
Asia's Favorite Cheer Memory:
My favorite cheerleading memory is definitely every moment I got to spend with West Georgia All-Girl in 2019.
I got to teach all my teammates the West Georgia way and watch them fall in love with the process as I did as a first-year in the program. We were a very new team that I had zero expectations for other than upholding the legacy of being on UWG All-Girl. My team that year exceeded all exceptions and came back to Carrollton with a national championship.
"Winning with that team was unmatched. I wanted it more for the people sitting next to me than myself and seeing everyone’s hard work being paid off was priceless."
How do you think your time as an athlete has helped you in your current role?
My time as an athlete has influenced me tremendously by knowing how it feels to simply be an athlete. Times have changed and skills are getting more difficult and by me knowing how to throw the skills that these teams do because I’ve done them, gives me a one-up on my job.
I understand every position in a stunt group, I understand how it feels to have to flip and spin your body and then having to throw a person right after. It makes it easier for me to sympathize with the kids I coach or teach in different ways for others to understand because I’ve recently been in their shoes.
What life lessons do you think you've learned from cheer?
So many life lessons I’ve learned while being an athlete and I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to never give up.
I’ve been through many hardships in my life and as much as I wanted to give up I could never bring myself to. I never knew how far I had to go until I made it out on the other side, so I kept going.
I’ve lost a national championship so many times but If I would have given up like I wanted to I wouldn’t get to call myself a two-time national champion today.
Why would you encourage someone to try out for cheer?
I would encourage someone to tryout for cheer or dance at a young age because of the life lessons and the discipline that comes with being an athlete.
It truly does set the tone for your adult life if you stick it out long enough. Being a part of a team allows anyone to come out of their shell and bond with people they normally wouldn’t. It teaches you how to work with groups of people and how to motivate yourself when things get tough.
Most importantly it teaches you to fake a smile when things get hard. I seriously wouldn’t be who I am today without being a cheerleader
If you could give a young athlete one piece of advice, what would it be?
If I could give a young athlete one piece of advice it would be that If you put your mind to it, anything is possible. All it takes is a positive mindset and some action behind it. Growing up I never thought I’d be where I am today. I accomplished everything I put my mind to as a cheerleader.