The Starz Cheer teams are gearing up for another season of competitions, starting this fall. | Courtesy photo

Starz tumbling, cheer team ready for new year

Published 12:00am Thursday, August 2, 2012

How do you get any better than a dance school with loads of students that has been established and thriving for more than 30 years?

You add three competitive cheer teams and turn it into a dance school and cheer gym.

That’s exactly what Andalusia Dance, Tumbling and Cheer (ADTC) has done through the efforts of Katie Howell, dance and tumbling instructor and head cheer coach.

Howell went to Auburn University to continue her cheer and dance training while getting her physical education degree.

“Then, she came back home to join us,” ADTC owner Becky Garner said.

Garner said Howell bounced back and forth between coaching cheerleading at Premier Spirit Academy Cheer Gym and teaching dancing at Nix Dance Studio in Auburn.

Upon her return home and joining the staff at ADTC, Howell immediately established her first cheer team, Starz.

“The first year was supposed to a starting point where the girls just performed and got some experience, but they were so good we decided to carry them on to competition,” Howell said. “They did fine that first year, but the second year (2011) has really been the season to brag about.”

Last December, the Starz team started its season at a WSA (Worldwide Spirit Association) competition in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., and brought home first place.

In January, the Starz team competed in Birmingham, and Howell said it was a bigger challenge in the second competition.

“We knew we had some really talented top-notch competition,” she said. “We were so thrilled that we won first place at this competition also.”

In the last competition of the year, the Starz team competed in San Destin, Fla., in another WSA event.

“We were able to wrap up our last competition and walk away as Beach National Champions after placing first again,” Howell said. “Three competitions and three first place trophies are something to be really proud of.

“These girls were really dedicated and I had tons of help from my dedicated assistants, Lorren Cooper and Kari Biggs,” she said.

Howell said she is looking ahead to a new year with new cheer teams. Right now, she is focusing on three teams.

The Mini Starz are a group of girls that range from kindergarten to third grade; and the Starz range from second to seventh grade.

“Just this week, we had tryouts for our Super Starz team,” Howell said. “The new team will consist of middle and high school cheerleaders from Andalusia, Opp, Pleasant Home, Straughn and. W.S. Neal.

“It’s so cool that these girls who normally cheer against each other are now coming together and working as a team to reach a common goal,” she said.

Opp varsity cheer coach Lorrie Harrison will also help out coaching the Starz teams this year.

All three Starz cheer teams train several hours per week at the ADTC, which has undergone some improvements lately, Garner said.

“We are thrilled with our new, much bigger and higher ceilinged facility,” she said. “This enables us to fly higher and offer more classes at a time.”

ADTC will be offering classes in baton and hip hop, in addition to the regular preschool, tumbling, cheer, jazz, tap and modern classes.

The ADTC is located in the old Guardian Angel Daycare building and for more info, call 582-1229.

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