Jumps, tumbling, stunts, beautiful smiles and much energy. You might think you’re having a déja vu of “Bring It On” or any other cheerleader movie. We gotta say, you’re not totally wrong, just so this time we’re not talking about a movie, it’s real life and it’s a practice right here in Oakland Park: Pride Cheer – and they got spirit, yes they do!
I had the opportunity to interview Matt Kyser, who is the owner of Pride Cheer and also one of their top in-demand coaches. Matt Kyser holds tremendous tumbling skills and worked for the famous Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. After spending four years with Cirque du Soleil, the flexible coach decided to pursue an educational path and completed studies at Florida State University.
Sixteen years ago, he moved to South Florida with his husband. He was successful at his regular job but decided that he wanted to take a chance and start something that would leave a more positive mark on the world. His zeal for cheerleading, coaching, and love for Oakland Park and its families inspired him to start Pride Cheer.
Today, Pride Cheer pridefully hosts about 800 tumbling and cheerful students.
They offer classes from ages 3 to adult. Some of the classes they offer include tumbling, hip-hop, while also offering competitive programs too. Pride Cheer proudly has a diverse and dedicated community of teachers, students, and families. They are involved with the local LGBT+ community activist team Cheer, Ft. Lauderdale. Needless to say they are proud to welcome everybody into the Pride family.
Every day Coach Matt sees the positive effect cheerleading has on children. As a creative and athletic sport is progression-based, cheerleading builds motor skills, personal discipline, and confidence. Students learn how to set and achieve the goals they put out for themselves, such as landing that perfect cartwheel or back handspring.
In addition to growing as athletes, cheerleading students grow together year after year, often forming lifelong friendships. Pride Cheer has students cheer each other on as they learn new things and develop different cheerleading skills. Another benefit of cheerleading is that it instills a commitment to teamwork. Cheer students need to show up, as they rely on each other.
The athletic school has attracted famous guest speakers, including Olympic track stars. These athletes have happily dedicated their time to offer words of wisdom to Pride Cheer Students. Many Pride Cheer students have gone on to pursue college cheerleading, but it was one student in particular that Coach Matt fondly remembers moving his heartstrings.
Coach Matt once had a young athlete with burgeoning financial hardship. Despite these difficulties, this did not stop the young cheerleader from achieving great things. Since beginning cheerleading classes, she made the honor roll for the very first time in middle school. Coach Matt was so proud of her he decided to surprise her with a shopping spree. He was amazed at her response. She did not want anything for herself but instead decided to buy stuff for her parents and family. The young athlete wanted to lead and help her family the same way her teammates helped her at Pride Cheer. This moved Coach Matt to tears.
While cheerleaders face their own individual struggles, cheerleading as a sport, at one point had a reputation that took it away from its pure athleticism. In Hollywood movies or TV shows, the cheerleader character is often portrayed as hyper-sexualized or mean. As a result the sport somehow turned into a glittery joke.
Pride Cheer strives to combats this misconception in the way it teaches its students to present themselves to the world. Their athletes are happy, intelligent, and powerful and are athletes of all shapes, sizes and background. Students dress in a proper athletic manner and behave like in a sportsmanlike manner. Competitors are kind to each other, and teammates become incredibly close. Through these consistent daily actions of its leaders and athletes Pride Cheer flies right over the negative stigmas about Cheerleading.
If you are ready to fly over negativity and or just want to have fun doing something you love or trying something new, then Pride Cheer has a program from you. Coach Matt encourages anyone to try the sport and he proudly boasts that he has never met anyone who wasn’t able to learn.
The harder you work, the faster you will progress!
If you are interested, here are some of the programs that Pride Cheer offers:
The Kindergym program is for kids 3-6 years of age. The class focuses on building motor skills in a fun and active environment. Students move, play, and have plenty of laughter.
Pride Cheer has competitive programs. These competitive programs offer athletes the opportunity to work as a team and participate in national competitions while creating lifelong memories.
Pride Cheer offers the community two free tumbling classes to try. Contact them today to set up your first free chance. They have programs for everyone ages 3 to adult and all levels. Enjoy the gift of being active, and you will flip over how amazing their school is.
Megan Rebecca is a classical pianist, singer, composer, writer and music promoter. She holds a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Piano Performance. As a performer, Megan has played at many local venues and theaters as both a classical and contemporary performer. She has performed at clubs such as the Open Stage Club in Coral Gables, Jazid in South Beach, and has given recitals at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.
Megan Rebecca is active in the music community as a performer and arts activist and has published articles on music, education and travel. She has also published a thesis comparing and contrasting the music of Disney and Japanese anime.