ALSTARZ Cheerleading teaches skill, life lessons

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When Crystal Green and her husband made the decision to move from Lafayette to South Lafourche, the family left behind their careers in the process.

“My mom was sick and we were driving back and forth a lot,” Green remembers. “So my husband suggested one day, ‘You know what? We’re down there a lot. Maybe we should just quit our jobs and step out on faith and move home so we can be closer to your mom to help out.’”

The leap of faith paid off and ALSTARZ Cheerleading Academy was born.

Open since 2001, the Larose-based local business specializes in teaching children the sport of cheerleading, while also giving them the life lessons they need to succeed in their lives.

“This is our 12th year and we’re doing the best that we can,” Green said. “We make an effort to show the kids that they have to work for everything they get – things are not just going to happen overnight. You have to spend time in the gym to progress just like you have to spend time in anything you’ll do in life to progress at it.”

The way ALSTARZ was born is a stroke of God, according to Green.

When the family returned home from Lafayette, Green said she wanted to start her own business, but did not know exactly the path to choose.

While visiting a church in Lockport, she was told by a minister to trust in the plan and to understand that everything would be OK.

“He said, ‘God told me to tell you that you have everything you need to start the business that you’re supposed to start, so just trust him,’” Green said. “After that, I knew I had what I needed, even though cheerleading never crossed my mind.”

Green said she returned home from church that night and prayed for a direction.

That’s when cheerleading came to the forefront.

It was a perfect match. Green said she has cheered her whole life. The local businesswoman has traveled around the world with the sport and has coached cheerleading and tumbling at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

“A friend asked me to help her daughter with tumbling,” Green said. “So I agreed to do that and then you know how things go – she said she had four or five other kids who would want help, too. At the time I said, ‘No, no, no, I’m done with cheerleading.’

“But the next day, she called me again and was begging me. As soon as I saw that, that’s when I knew that was my sign from God that this is what I needed to do.”

ALSTARZ opened its doors in 2001 in Cut Off at a small location.

“We barely were able to fit two mats in the gym,” Green said with a laugh.

They have since moved to a larger location in Larose.

ALSTARZ offers children cheer classes and tryout classes, where they instruct athletes how to tryout for their school squads.

They also have competitive cheering teams that travel and compete against other similar squads.

Green also offers private cheerleading and tumbling lessons to those interested in some one-on-one time.

In the future, Green said ALSTARZ would begin exercise and strength classes.

“We’ve really come a long way,” Green said. “We hope to continue to grow and continue to help as many people as we can.”

But away from the technical work, a large part of ALSTARZ is the life lessons the children learn in the program.

The gym boasts a slogan of, “Where you learn more than just the skill.”

“This is more than just my job, it’s also my ministry,” Green said. “I want to help the kids. … We teach the kids how to be confident, how to boost their self-esteem. We quote scriptures. We teach them how to deal with their peers and how to handle their schoolwork. We’ve become so much more than just teaching a kid how to tumble.”

In addition to the life lessons, ALSTARZ also tries to give back and reward its members.

For eight years, the program has hosted a fishing rodeo where proceeds go to give a graduating senior a college scholarship.

Green said the scholarship is given to a participant regardless of whether he or she is going to college to be a cheerleader.

“We want to reward the people who chose to spend so much time being dedicated to the sport,” Green said. “In other sports, if you compete and excel, scholarships are made available to you. That doesn’t really happen in cheerleading, unless you’re at like the University of Kentucky or something. So we just try and reward people and show them that we appreciate their hard work.”

Green said this year’s rodeo would take place in May.

She added a challenge to other gyms in the area.

“We’d like to see the other gyms start their benefits, too,” Green said.

Members of the ALSTARZ Cheerleading Academy celebrate a first-place prize at a cheering competition. Owned by Crystal Green, the Larose-based gym is a hotbed for both cheerleading instruction and life lessons.