Saturday, April 06, 2002

Cheering center opens

Ex-footballer fills need for sport

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        PARK HILLS — The old Town and Country Soccer facility just became the new Kentucky Elite North Training Center for cheerleading.

[photo] Travis Arnold (left), executive director of Kentucky Elite North training center, and Barb Huffman, a coach at the new cheerleading facility, finish installing a floor before last week's opening.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
        Chris Derry, former Dixie Heights High School and University of Kentucky football star, whose business interests include other sports facilities in Northern Kentucky, and his business partner opened the training center at 1610 Dixie Highway on Monday.

        Mr. Derry and Mark Pike, former Dixie Heights and Buffalo Bills football player, bought the 16,000-square-foot facility from John Toebben, who built the larger Town and Country facility off Ky. 9 near Interstate 275 in Wilder.

        Mr. Toebben “wants everything in Wilder,” Mr. Derry said. “It was a lot of work for him to go back and forth between the two locations.

        “This is the only cheer-only facility in Greater Cincinnati,” said Mr. Derry, who also owns the Better Bodies health facility on Grandview Drive in Fort Mitchell with Mr. Pike.

        “And it's one of the largest (cheer-only facilities) east of the Mississippi River.”

        The price of the facility was not released. Mr. Toebben was out of town Friday and could not be reached for comment.

        The Park Hills facility is located next to Wood Brothers Smokehouse and Grill and Covington Catholic High School. It already bears the name of a national championship cheerleading organization.

   Kentucky Elite North tryouts are Monday through Friday, and signups take place from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at the Kentucky Elite North Training Center, 1610 Dixie Highway.
    Call (859) 431-7190 for more information.
        The Kentucky Elite North won two titles at last month's Americheer National Championships in Orlando, Fla.

        The Elite North team moves from its former home at the Silverlake Recreation Center in Erlanger. Kim Steffen, cheerleading director for Kentucky Elite North and the Northern Kentucky Raiders, welcomes the extra space.

        “We're going to add more teams,” Ms. Steffen said. “We would have had to turn away kids if we had stayed at Silverlake. We hold cheerleading classes, and we were turning away kids from those.”

        Many colleges offer cheerleading scholarships. In January, the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University won national collegiate titles. The UK cheerleaders were honored by President Bush in the Rose Garden for their title.

        Ms. Steffen said the successes trickle down.

        “When people see a team doing well, they want their children to be part of it,” she said. “Everybody wants to be part of a winner.”

        The two biggest features at the Kentucky Elite North site are the foam spring practice floors usually seen on college campuses, and the spotting belt suspended from the ceiling — which Mr. Derry said is similar to a bungee cord.

        An open house is from 7-9 p.m. today, and clinics start Monday.

        The first big event at the new center is tryouts for Kentucky Elite North teams.

        To Mr. Derry, who played college football at UK and professionally in the 1980s with the U.S. Football League's Orlando Renegades, high-level cheerleading looks just as competitive.

        “You're working together to score against other teams,” Mr. Derry said. “From what I can tell, cheerleading is a big business, more than we thought.”


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