Danielle Johnston, Twisters Co-Owner: Cheerleading had been my life for many years by the time I took over coaching my first team. I will never forget the 5 and 6 year olds as we did sideline basketball cheerleading for Upward Cheer in the Chicago Suburbs. I enlisted in the Air Force in 2006 and was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base. For a couple years, I searched around for coaching opportunities because I really loved cheer and wasn’t ready to give up coaching. In 2009, I began coaching at the Whiteman Air Force Base Youth Center, and in 2010, right after my daughter was born, I took over the program. For two years, I taught a couple days a week in a small room with just a single panel mat. The cheer and dance classes really started to grow and I saw a trend. Many of the girls who wanted to excel in cheer needed tumbling…and many of the girls who took tumbling were fascinated by cheerleading and dance. When my daughter turned 18 months, I enrolled her in a tumbling class with Angie. At that point, I had been teaching Angie’s daughter cheerleading for a few months. It was always awesome to see kids come through our program, but many of them stopped cheering or tumbling when they aged out of the youth center.
Angie: I didn’t know Danielle very well at all when she first approached me about opening a gym. I was really intrigued by the idea, but Dustin (my husband) was in school at the time, and I just didn’t think it made sense for us. For years though, I had been daydreaming about starting my own business. It was something I had always wanted to do and turning that down was really hard.
Danielle: A few days after Angie turned me down, we signed a lease on a building to open a gym. I was disappointed she had said no, but I understood. But then a funny thing happened. I got home from work and had a voicemail from Angie. I remember yelling to my husband that I thought she might be changing her mind. I didn’t know Angie well at all…but something about opening the business with her – just seemed right.
Angie: We had been going back and forth for days after I said no…but then we just decided – if it wasn’t too late – we were going to do it. I don’t think any of us had any idea what Twisters would eventually become.
Danielle: We thought we were just going to work our normal day jobs and come in a couple days a week to coach a bunch of cute kids. Next thing you know, the gym started taking over every area of our lives. We loved every second of it, and I found less and less satisfaction in my job at the time. Five months after we opened, after two government furloughs that gave me plenty of time to work at the gym – we both left our full time jobs and decided to put 100% effort in to the gym.
Dangie (Danielle & Angie): We’re so thankful for our families and staff here at the gym. We love talking about how we started because it is truly a testament to our athletes and our college-age staff that life takes you in different directions sometimes. Doors open when you least expect them, and we’re grateful for every opportunity and every person who has supported us along the way. Five-and-a-half years down – many more to come!