Northwest SilverStars, a Bellingham cheerleading club, moved to a new location on Division Street in July and is completing the final touches. At 10,000 square feet, the new location is twice as large as their former location on Jills Court.
The program now has more space to train the athletes after offering three additional classes and starting a hip-hop team for the elementary age last year, said Christina Archer, president of Northwest SilverStars.
Construction started on the building around April, said Morgan Longwell, a tumbling coach.
With the new location, two teams are able to practice at the same time and parents have room to watch, he said.
“There’s room to breathe for everyone now,” he said.
Athletes come to Northwest SilverStars for a number of reasons including classes on dancing, cheering and gymnastics. For younger students, some can’t join a school cheerleading team until their sophomore year of high school and this gym gives them the opportunity to begin at a younger age. Older students join because it is an elite team, Archer said.
“We win a lot of championships and this is a character-based program. Families see the high values and strong ethics we teach and instill in our athletes,” Archer said.
The club began in 2000 and the year-long program now has nine teams including four competitive cheer teams, three hip-hop teams, a special needs team and a recreational team, which practices for only three months. The gym has 104 athletes enrolled in the various programs coming from both Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Archer has been coaching since 1999. She visited Whatcom County for a cheer camp and after learning there was not an all-star program in the area, she set out to begin one.
“We started as a smaller gym and we’ve continued to work hard and set realistic goals,” Archer said.
Several teams with the program have won international and regional awards. Archer is the recipient of awards including the 2010 Washington State Cheer Coaches Association All-Star Coach of the Year and the 2011 All Things Cheer Coach of the Year.
“I love working with young ladies and helping them do their best,” she said.
With the new space, the gym was able to get new equipment such as a new sound system. Archer said she can already see her athletes progress more with the location.
The Northwest SilverStars next competition is at 11 a.m. on Nov. 19 at Squalicum High School.
GALLERY: All photos by Celeste Erickson