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2018 Greatmats National Cheer Coach of the Year

Vote for the cheerleading coach you think should be named the 2018 Greatmats National Cheer Coach of the Year!

Voting runs Nov. 15-29, 2018


Anderson Invasion Cheer

Central high

Dynamic Cheer All-Stars


Motor City Cheer

NW Cheer Elite

Rutherford B. Hayes High School

Ultimate STARZ Athletics

University of Louisville


Anderson Invasion Cheer

June 2018

Anderson, Indiana

I nominate Head Coach Kaylee Cottrell of Anderson Invasion Cheer. Kaylee started out with our program as the assistant coach and held that position for 2 years before transitioning to the head coach. She has been the head coach for 4 years now. She is a mentor to over 200+ cheerleaders in program currently. She manages 10 different teams with each having their own unique routine each season. She has grown our local program leap and bounds. She has a special place for every kiddo that she teaches. She forms a bond that is special to her and the cheerleader. She has helped so many of our athletes grow mentally, physically and emotionally. Kaylee has created a FAMILY with all of us!!! One of my favorite quotes from her is "It take a village to raise a child." This is so true in many aspects. She has rallied our staff, parents and cheerleaders to make these cheer squads enjoyable and meaningful for our child in our community. Without Kaylee coaching this program in our community these children wouldn't have this opportunity to learn and flourish in the environment she has created.

Central high


Baton Rouge, LA

Amy Stevens is a amazing coach on and off the mat. She coached Live Oak Jr High to 3 national championships and 2 world titles. She has since moved to Central High School where she is building that cheer system.

Dynamic Cheer All-Stars


Kingwood TX

I would like to nominate Coach Sami Thornton for Coach of the Year.

Coach Sami has been an all-star coach for 14 years, and has been such an inspiration to hundreds of athletes over the years, but especially for my daughter. She is one of those rare coaches that continues to fight for each athlete even if the athlete is not fighting for them self.

I have watched her help so many athletes, including my own, through mental blocks, personal matters, and problems at school just to list a few. She values each athlete as a whole rather than just what that athlete brings to the floor, and knows that the sport of cheerleading is about being a family, being there for each other, and cheering on each and every athlete.

Coach Sami truly believes in building up each and every child in every way physically and emotionally so that they not only become better cheerleaders, but so that they become better people. She strives to help her athletes push beyond their boundaries, and knows that without empowering the individual there is no empowering the athlete.

On a personal note, due to my health issues and a serious bail and thus mental block, my daughter needed more support emotionally last season. Coach Sami was there for her each step of the way supporting her not just as a coach, but as a friend and mentor as well.

My daughter, and even myself, knew we always had someone to lean on when we didn't think we could go any further. Unfortunately, my daughter has health problems of her own this year, and, once again, Coach Sami has been there for us.

It must be said that it is not just our family she has been there for. She is there for every family I have seen walk through the Dynamic doors. Coach Sami gives herself selflessly and pours her heart and soul into the program, the athletes, and the families of Dynamic Cheer. Coach Sami wins Coach of the Year each and every time an athlete steps on the floor with the confidence, persistence, and determination that her coaching has afforded them.


December 15, 2017

Wilkes-Barre, PA

- SAMPLE - 2017 Greatmats National Cheer Coach of the Year Sherri Andrzejewksi

-- NOMINATION INFO: "Sherri has a big impact in not just my life but in all of the cheerleaders on our team lives. Sherri is dedicated to us, and when and if we fail, she is always there to lift us up and gives is the confidence that we need to be more than just a good cheerleader a great one.

She not just our coach but our FAMILY. If we fall we fall together, and that's one thing that I love about her! We can go to her with anything not just cheerleading she gives us advice life lesson, all of the above and it would be a great thing to see our coach receive this award!

Through the years Sherri has proven that she is the best coach for us.

We have been a tough team to work with because we are stubborn, and not once had Sherri lost her temper. She always remained calm, knowing in her head she wanted to yell.

Many sad and happy moments. She is retiring this year, and we would like to show her we care."

Motor City Cheer

June 7th, 2018

Farmington Hills, MI

Motor City Cheer owner Leslie Del Toro has a passion for introducing kids of all ages to the sport of cheerleading. Coach Leslie is always keeping up with the best methods of coaching, injury prevention, conditioning, and safety progression. But more importantly, the kids consider Coach Leslie to be their second mom as she creates their "home away from home."

NW Cheer Elite


Beaverton, Oregon

I would like to Nominate Denise Way-Hackett from NW Cheer Elite. There is something remarkable about her, she gives of herself, so others can get the training needed. Coach D volunteers her services and provides camps and clinics to schools that otherwise would not have access to any training. She spends most of her time traveling in her dime all over the US. She is very knowledgeable and patient with coaches and the kids. She has made herself available long after our camp was completed. She never made me feel less then, or the kids. She took her time with us, giving the kids the confidence to achieve the goals we set out. It was not just about acquiring skills. She also sat down and listened to what the kids were struggling with, within their school, gave us ideas on building school spirit. But the biggest is how she comforted and soothed the kids when learning new skills, she does this all while volunteering her time. She has been coaching for 15 years. She is what all coaches should strive to be.

Rutherford B. Hayes High School


Delaware, Ohio

Head Coach Justine Bruns

The quote "If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you’d never think another negative thought again" is just one of hundreds that Rutherford B. Hayes High School Head Coach Justine Bruns tweets daily on the cheer’s Twitter. This is just an example of how motivating Justine is within her program.

Justine Bruns is in her 2nd year as Head Coach for the Delaware Hayes Pacers Cheer Program. Justine works day in and day out to change the culture of cheerleading. She leads with motivation, compassion, positiveness, respect and hard work and she only expects the same from her squads. Working alongside JV coach Francesca and Freshman coach Ainslee who is also her daughter, Justine strives to make the program a family. She takes the time to not only coach and teach, but also gets to know her cheerleaders on a personal level working with each of them on their strengths and improving their weaknesses, on and off the practice and game field. Justine is a mentor and a shoulder to lean on, she has wiped away tears and helped strengthen pulled hamstrings, uplifted those who are struggling making sure they realize their full potential. When the cheerleaders leave practice, they have not only learned new cheer skills, they have also learned more about themselves, have pushed past their boundaries to becoming better role models, friends and kind and caring young people.

Aside from coaching high school cheerleading, Justine has a passion for being a personal fitness coach, her beloved dog Bodee with whom she walks/runs with, spending time with her husband Matt and both her daughters, Ainslee and Hadlee.

Ultimate STARZ Athletics


Weymouth, MA

After working her full time job as a real estate agent and working at the gym every night, McKinley Fichtner took a well deserved vacation to Greece before going full blast into the 2018-2019 all star cheer season with Ultimate STARZ Athletics. McKinley is a role model in and out of the gym. Her motto is The Journey, is just as Important as the Destination! She truly believes you never take more than you give, and is always willing to help an athlete in need, great listener and coach. She participates in numerous fundraisers for different organizations.

University of Louisville


Louisville, KY

The name Misty Hodges is synonymous with with cheerleading excellence. As the coach for the University of Louisville all-girl cheerleading team coach, Hodges recently led the cardinals to their fourth consecutive and 14th all time National Cheerleading Association Championship. She has helped keep the University of Louisville cheerleaders among the best in the country year after year.


June 2018

FCA Gems (Sarver, PA)

Coach Thiago Nanuk is not only a remarkable coach, but cares about every athlete he coaches or comes into contact with. He brings a focus and leadership to all training that not only allows the athlete to progress but to grow healthy in the sport.

Coach Thiago does not tell a parent or athlete what they want to hear, but what they need to do as a collective party to achieve their desired skill level and cheer goals. Everyone wants to attend Worlds and Coach Thiago will have you set that goal and climb to it one level at a time beginning at the bottom until you become a World athlete.

If you need help with strength and endurance, he will give you things to do outside to build those areas. He sets goals for athletes, demonstrates by his ability to focus and concentrate, and how the athlete can master those skills in and out of the gym. Coach Thiago will take the weakest athlete (or team) and make them strong, while encouraging the strongest to help the weakest to grow.

Coach Thiago makes a difference in athlete's lives that stays with them as they move pass cheering nationally to College and Professional. His influence transfers and provides a leadership that allows every athlete to perform not only well, but with their best ability feeling they are part of a team whether you win or lose. Coach Thiago views everyone as a winner.

The best gift of all is his ability to drill the athlete before just throwing skills. He is not about levels but your ability to throw skills properly with good technique.

Coach Thigao is not big with conversation, and lets his work show on the mat or at a competition. On and off the stage he is your biggest cheerleader whether you are at his gym or another gym. He instills "make sure you focus on how the skill was taught, and it will flow with great technique and land you success".

Want to honor a cheerleading coach for his/her outstanding achievements, unique style, humanitarian efforts, etc.? Then nominate for him/her for the 2018 National Cheerleading Coach of the Year Award, sponsored by Greatmats. The award, part of Greatmats National Award Series, is designed to recognize Cheerleading Coaches who have made a difference in the lives of their athletes and community through the virtues of service, integrity and quality.

Learn more about Greatmats National Award Series.

How to Nominate

To nominate a coach for this award, visit or email the following information to before Nov. 1, 2018. Nominators will not be identified.

  1. Coach's Full Name
  2. Name and Address of the School, Gym, Organization, Etc. (Must be located in the USA)
  3. A brief description of why you are nominating this coach, including how he/she meets the criteria of high-level service, integrity and quality
  4. A photo and/or video of the Coach

How the winner is chosen:

  1. Voting will take place on at from Nov. 15 through Nov. 29, 2018. The two cheerleading coaches with the most votes will be named finalists.
  2. Greatmats will judge the two finalists to determine the winner based on:
    1. Demonstration of Service
    2. Demonstration of Integrity
    3. Demonstration of Quality

Grand Prize

  1. $250 in Greatmats Products (or $150 Cash Option) for affiliated facility
  2. Coach/school profile to be released with the announcement of the winner on Dec. 14, 2018 National Cheerleading Coach of the Year Certificate

Nearly 7,000 votes were cast in the first two years of the contest, which is part of the 4th annual Greatmats National Award Series which honors instructors, trainers and coaches who have made a positive difference in their communities and the lives of their students.

Voting Instructions:

Visit during the voting period to vote for this year's National Cheerleading Coach of the Year. Click the vote button next to the photo of the Cheer Coach you'd like to win. Each person gets one vote. Feel free to share a photo or the gallery ballot with friends and family and encourage them to vote. The two Cheerleading Coaches with the most votes will be named finalists. From that point, Greatmats will choose the winner (scroll down to see prizes) based on demonstration of service, integrity and quality.

Greatmats is a national cheerleading mat leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources.

View all of Greatmats' cheer mats at

All media submissions, including text, photos and videos become property of Greatmats.

Read About Previous Winners of the Award:

2016 National Cheer Coach of the Year Amy Beth Klopf

2017 National Cheer Coach of the Year Sherri Andrzejewski