If you aren’t up to date on the latest industry news, a large cheer gym in South Carolina is currently under investigation. Multiple survivors have come forward with claims of sexual assault and other illegal activity over the past decade. Much of the news is running in line with the case a few years ago against Larry Nassar, USAG physician, and Jerry Harris, Navarro Cheerleaader.
This is not acceptable. Our #1 job as owners and coaches is to protect the athletes in our gym. We have worked hard over the last 11 years to make sure our gym is safe for all children. Not only have we experienced the challenges of keeping it safe from germs and COVID, but we’ve trained our coaches and provided heavy oversight and accountability measures to always keep our athletes safe physically, mentally and emotionally. We know your trust us with your children, so we will always keep their safety as our #1 priority. Below are the ways that our gym keeps your children safe every day:
1. Our staff undergoes background checks prior to employment and an extensive on-boarding and training process. No one interacts with children until they have completed our training requirements and have been cleared. We always check references and dig deep to make sure our potential staff have upstanding character and are wanting to coach for the right reasons.
2. Our staff has thorough written policies for what communication is appropriate with both minors and parents. If your child has requested to follow them on social media, please let him/her know our staff can only have followers on public forums and not on private social media. We also do not believe minors should be private messaging their coaches. For that reason, our coaches are not allowed to answer private messages but to refer the parents to the gym messaging. In a different world, it would be an amazing opportunity to get insight into the lives of our athletes, but unfortunately it doesn’t fit in well with today’s society and protecting both athletes and coaches is most important.
3. We have a very firm 3-person concept in our gym. This means two adults are required at all times. These two adults cannot be married or related. No private lesson, morning Kids’ Camper or otherwise is in the building alone with children. This is not safe in the event of an emergency and would never be safe for the coach despite his/her reputation or intentions. The only exceptions to this are our own children (ie: My daughters might be in the building with just me.) This is also our policy in the batting cages and for those who rent our facility.
4. Staff undergo quarterly training where we not only focus on skills and drills, but also on refreshers of the policies in the gym. These policies are always related to customer service and safety – ways to better serve and protect our gym families.
5. As you know, our facility is fully equipped with security cameras in every common space. These areas are recorded at all times.
6. Our facility is fully open to parents. We do not allow closed practices, and while our competitive teams often want to surprise parents with a new routine, it’s more important to us that parents have full access to their children at all times. During the day, our parents do have to call for entry as a security measure to protect our campers from intruders, but parents have immediate access upon identity verification. During practices, parents have viewing access through half-walls and live-streamed cameras. This allows you to see (and often hear) exactly what’s happening at all times.
7. Two of our owners have military training in situational awareness and two have training in child safety training through Safesport. This allows us to be aware of our surroundings and always ensure we’re observing interactions between adults and children. In fact, you’ll see members of our management team who do not coach classes at any given time who are trained to look for unknown personnel and always watch the floor.
We’ve worked alongside experts in safety and training for many years and do not take this lightly. In fact, we’re now providing risk assessment training for other gyms within our industry as a measure to make a greater impact on the cheerleading and gymnastics community and keep children safe in our sport.
If you have any questions regarding our safety measures, please reach out to our staff at the front desk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.