Many little girls dream of growing up and becoming cheerleaders.
Oxford Cheer and Tumble is one of the places where they learn the skills needed to join a squad.
Zach and Monica Lee, who live in Oxford with their two children, own the business and have a strong background in cheerleading.
Zach Lee was a University of Mississippi cheerleader and a former Universal Cheerleaders Association staffer. He is a United States All-Star Federation board member and a certified coach. He has been in the all-star cheer industry since 2000.
“One day, I saw a guy do a flip,” he said. “I thought I could do it too, so I tried and landed on my head a few times. The next day, I could do the flip, and then all of a sudden, I was an Ole Miss cheerleader, and then I was a UCA staffer.”
Monica Lee was also a UM cheerleader. The USASF certified coach has been in the all-star cheer industry since 2004. Her cheer background is in gymnastics.
“I started my tumbling in gymnastics,” she said. “That is why I am such a perfectionist when I teach kids how to tumble.”
The business is personal. Friends, family, and locals walk in and out everyday. Employees get to know the kids, and the kids get to know the employees. It creates a bond that makes the workplace more fun and loving, rather than just a workplace.
“We want to get to know the kids and the people we work with and teach,” Monica Lee said. “We ask the kids how their day was, what they did over the weekend. We want to get to know them, so it’s comfortable for them in here, and they enjoy it.”
Kids learn in a fun environment with friends. They are taught the basics of tumbling before moving on to more advanced skills.
“We might spend more time teaching kids how to do a lunge before we move on to learning how to do a handstand,” Monica Lee said.
Oxford Cheer offers beginner level to advanced classes. Students range in age from 3 to 18. Oxford Cheer and Tumble hires Ole Miss students with strong cheerleading backgrounds.
“This place can get really busy,” Monica Lee said. “We can use all the help we can get, so when someone who has background in cheer asks for a job, we can’t help but say yes.”
UM freshman Chloe Gant is an instructor.
The Meridian native started all-star cheer at age 6 and continued until 18. Along with competitive cheer, she was a school cheerleader. She began teaching cheerleading at age 16 at East Mississippi Cheerleading, where she “coached a mini level team mostly and some level one tumbling classes.”
It can be challenging transitioning from one place of work to the next. “I love working at Oxford Cheer,” Gant said. “It’s fun to see how every gym works differently. My gym at home in Meridian, and the gym in Oxford are so different, yet they both produce quality athletes.”
Oxford Cheer owners train new employees for the first few weeks, teaching them the language and showing them chow things are done around the gym.
“We want to make sure every new employee is comfortable,” Monica Lee said. “We want to make sure they know how we do things around here. We want to teach them the same language we use, so the kids aren’t confused, and they know what we are talking about.”