Danielle Wilder is the class program supervisor for 350 to 400 students at Premier Dance and Cheer in Clayton. She and her husband, David, have four daughters, all of whom have participated in Premier’s programs at various times. The Wilders are originally from New Jersey, but have been in Clayton for seven years.
Q: How did you get involved with Premier Athletics?
My sister Stacy Rowe started the Clayton branch of Premiere Athletics. When we moved here from New Jersey she had me do some teaching. Then I got into the administrative side of the business and that suited me better. Stacy has moved to the corporate offices in Tennessee now and Carly Byman is the director.
Q: Were you a dancer or cheerleader as a child?
I did some studio dance when I was younger, but around twelve I switched to tennis. I played through high school. I started playing again about 17 years ago. In the last four years I’ve gotten more into it. I play three to five times a week now.
Q: Where do you play?
I play at Neuse River Racquet Club. It’s nice because it’s so close and I can just go over for a clinic now and then. It’s such great exercise and a social outlet. I really enjoy it.
Q: I don’t know much about Premiere. What do they do?
We have 26 or 27 All Star Teams in cheer and dance. We coach children from age four through 18. We also have an open cheer and dance team for people over the age of 18 that competes too. We have a lot of coaches that compete on these open teams. They compete all over the place. Premiere Athletics is all over the country.
The kids don’t represent a school, they represent Premiere Athletics. So when they go to competitions they are competing against other All Star gyms.
Q: Is the Premiere Athletics franchise the only type of All Star gym?
No, there are All Star gyms across the country. (Premier Gyms is headquartered in Tennessee, but has locations in Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan.) Our students compete against different All Star gyms.
Q: Do you offer anything besides the All Star Teams in cheer and dance?
We offer tumbling for preschoolers on up and we’ve recently begun studio dance.
Q: What is the difference between studio dance and the All Star dance teams?
The studio dance is ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop dance. You’re more traditional dance classes. The All Star dance and tumbling is geared more toward cheering.
Q: Do you all use costumes?
We do. The coaches get to come up with their theme for the routines. We use a local seamstress named Jenny Gorman to make all the costumes. She’s been making the costumes for years. The kids have a good time with it too.
Q: Do you coach girls and boys?
We do. There are more girls than boys, but we do have boys on many of our teams. A lot of boys like the hip hop team, tumbling and cheer. We have more boys in cheer. The boys are integral to holding the stunts up and are great at tumbling. It’s fun to watch.
Q: How do you get on the teams? Do you have to try out?
Yes. We have team selections in May. Basically they’re separated out by ages. They come the first week by ages. Each week the manager levels them by tumbling or stunting. By the end of May everybody knows what team they are on. Everybody is on a team, it’s just a matter of what level the child is best suited for. Everybody who wants to be on a team is placed on a team and every team competes. We start competitions in November and they run through April.
In the last few years we’ve had our senior hip hop team go to the World’s Competition in Orlando and our cheer level five team competed there too. So we had both a dance and a cheer team win an opportunity to compete in the Worlds.
Q: How do you win that opportunity?
You compete at local and then regional levels. Bids are awarded to the top teams to go to Worlds. It’s a great opportunity for the kids. You get to compete with teams from all over the country. Regular competitions for our team are held in Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville and Myrtle Beach.
Q: Are there opportunities for this to help the kids win scholarships for college?
We actually have a couple of students who are cheering at N.C. State University. They graduated from this program. Everything the kids learn here will translate to college cheer programs. We do offer scholarships to the seniors that are in our program. The seniors on the All Star teams have to fill out an application and write an essay as to why they should win a scholarship. They take the top three and then the Premier Athletics corporate office gives a scholarship from any of their gyms in the amount of $2,500.
Q: What benefits do you see for the students that participate in dance and cheer?
The health benefits are tremendous. The kids make friends here. It’s a nice place for transplants to get involved. You have that team type atmosphere. The kids learn responsibility to their teammates and coaches. They learn discipline, too.
Q: Is there a high stress level for the kids?
I think at some of the higher level teams competing for a bid to go to different competitions and the Worlds. They want to hit everything great every time. I didn’t do it myself, but it’s stressful just watching. Some of the older kids probably feel stress.
Q: As the class program supervisor what role do you play in the business?
I keep the classes organized and place the kids into the classes. The kids are evaluated on a monthly basis and have the opportunity to move to the next level. We want them to progress and move to the next level. I also work to plan the exhibition in March where every dance and cheer team gets to show their stuff. It’s going to be March 16th at Cleveland High School. It’s a lot of fun for everyone. It’s a great time for anyone interested or thinking about joining the gym to see what we do. We also give out awards and scholarships at that time, too.
Correspondent Holly Lock