In the year 2000 Mayor Bret Schundler recognized a void in meaningful and productive programs available to the young girls of Jersey City. It was then that I was approached by the Director of Recreation for the City of Jersey City and asked if I would be willing to start a competitive cheerleading program through the Recreation Department. At the time I was the head varsity cheerleading coach for Dickinson High School and was a bit apprehensive about leaving a program that I had worked so hard to establish. After careful consideration, I agreed and thought of this as an opportunity to take what I had been doing in one school and expand it to offer the same experience to an entire city of girls. Many people perceive cheerleading only by stereotypes that are portrayed in movies and television shows as shallow, self-centered snobs only concerned with superficial things. In fact, competitive cheerleading is quite the opposite- it is a highly demanding athletic activity that requires responsibility, teamwork and dedication. Since Jersey City is the home of Liberty State Park and the Statue of Liberty, I felt it only appropriate to name the team Jersey City Liberty All Stars. I didn’t quite know what to expect at the first tryout, competitive all star cheerleading was brand new to the area and I wasn’t sure how it would be received. Although the turnout was small, most of the girls (and one boy) who registered were from my previous team at Dickinson High School. The first few seasons were difficult because the program had to beg, steal and borrow space and proper matted surfaces for practices. We used school gyms, we used public parks and we even used people’s backyards.
It was a struggle but the process made the team bond that much stronger. Jersey City Liberty All Stars were highly successful that year and were beginning to make a fast name for ourselves. Each of the following years the program began to grow and teams were added due to the expanding numbers. Once Jersey City fostered a relationship with the State of New Jersey and were allowed access to the Jersey City Armory we were able to move our practices there and accommodate our ever-growing program, which now boasts more than 60 National Championships. When the Armory became no longer accessible for recreation programs we were back to square one. Due to budget cuts in the city, we no longer received funding for practice space, uniforms, equipment, competition fees or transportation. We were a nationally recognized program without a place to call our own while teams we were beating were practicing in 15,000 square foot million dollar facilities. The teams were not discouraged and we carried on. We were able to find a small space that afforded us the opportunity to continue the program. However, due to the limited space and time constraints at this new facility, we were forced to downsize the program and had to actually turn girls away- we just didn’t have the space to make it feasible.
Fast forward to 2011, when a group of selfless parents and dedicated coaches have pooled our resources to fight for the purpose of allowing these kids to participate in a sport they are passionate about and can offer them scholarship opportunities not otherwise thought possible. The ability to practice and train in a fully equipped facility in a safe and controlled environment will be a true asset to the neighborhood, city, county and most of all to the children who pass through our doors. With a suitable facility, we will be able to offer services to the community that cannot be found anywhere in the county. Aside from continuing and expanding our competitive team programs, we have tumbling classes, fitness and wellness education, mentoring and tutoring programs as well as CPR and First Aid workshops.
Moved into Our New Facilities
Our need for more space is over! Thanks to countless donations, we were able to move into our new facilities on August 15, 2011. Our new facility consists of 5000 square feet, 1 54 x 42 Wall to Wall Spring Floors, Tumble area consisting of Trampoline and Standing Tumbling Spring Floor Section