The sports world was significantly affected by COVID-19, with games being canceled or played in front of limited crowds, mask mandates changing how people came out to view events, and incidents of illness among athletes. The cheerleading industry was no exception, and those on the front lines of training cheerleaders and dancers felt the brunt of Covid, too.
As businesses pivoted to virtual structures, many of those changes made by companies may be things they want to hang on to as we continue to work our way out of the pandemic. Perhaps a move to virtual made operating easier, made clients and employees happier, or saved money.
GeNienne Samuels, CEO and Co-Founder of Sideline Prep, trains cheerleaders and dancers and prepares them for professional auditions. Her business, like others in the sports industry, was directly impacted by the pandemic throughout the past two years. Although, thankfully, many aspects of her business were in place pre-pandemic that prepared it for unprecedented times, and many tweaks that they have held on to.
While some companies may have struggled with the sharp turn in the way they communicated, other companies, such as Sideline Prep, took the changes in stride.
Adjust and Adapt
As a business owner, adaptability and the ability to pivot when necessary is essential. These abilities became crucial during the pandemic, where in many instances businesses had to pivot or fail. Business owners were forced to get comfortable with technology they had never used before, and figure out how to connect with clients and customers on the fly.
Once things began to open up and in-person meetings, workshops, and training returned, companies needed to ensure the proper safety protocols were in place. This was another pivot that many businesses had to make with very little warning or preconceived notion on how to best approach it.
In the cheerleading industry, the biggest shift was the move to virtual auditions and prep classes. Teams required hopeful cheerleaders and dance team members to submit virtual audition videos or attend auditions via Zoom. Samuels sees this shift as a considerable advantage that allowed cheerleaders and dancers from across the country to participate in auditions anywhere.
“It opened the doors to so many more people and gave candidates more options,” Samuels said.
Social media also became more of a factor for the cheer industry amid the pandemic. Teams shared more, there were more livestreams, and some teams even held live auditions, opening up their viewing audience. Samuels even had the opportunity to host the Washington Commanders Dance Team auditions virtually. This increased sharing and streaming may have educated the public on what professional cheerleading entails, and presented it as an option for some who may have never considered it before.
Samuels admits that teaching and learning routines over Zoom were challenging at times, especially with lagging internet connections or sound snafus. Nevertheless, she maintains that the pros of virtual connectivity during the pandemic outweighed the cons.
“Since over 90% of our company was already virtual before Covid, we luckily did not have to make too many adjustments,” explained Samuels. “We were already using Zoom, and we were extremely comfortable providing feedback virtually. Many of our processes were already in place that enabled us to coach effectively in a virtual environment.”
Despite this pre-pandemic comfort with virtual communication, Samuels turned their in-person workshops into virtual workshops. During the pandemic, Samuels also expanded her offerings, bringing virtual audition video feedback to the cheerleaders and dancers looking to still audition despite shutdowns.
Bringing more aspects of business operations into the virtual space allowed many companies to expand. With virtual meetings, workshops, and remote employment, businesses and companies could now serve a broader consumer base, reach people outside their immediate area, and employ people located anywhere in the world. According to studies, many companies thrived during the pandemic due to the accessibility of the virtual space.
“The cheer industry is bouncing back. More teams are opening up in-person auditions as professional sports teams welcome fans back into stadiums, yet still provided a virtual component to auditions; allowing for more people to participate,” says Samuels. Still, the effects of shutdowns brought about by the pandemic will likely remain permanent. Teams now know that they can reach a larger pool of candidates for cheer and dance squads, and businesses such as Sideline Prep realize they can continue serving the industry — regardless of the obstacles they face.
This content is published on behalf of the above source. Please contact them directly for any concern related to the above.