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Cheerleading and cheer music...I understand it better now.

As a kid in high school, I used to enjoy hanging around the cheerleaders (I mean, obviously). As an adult in my 30s, I had a friend who was a semi-professional cheerleader in San Francisco. She cheered for a group called Cheer SF and I was continually fascinated by the 'flyers,' or the girls who would be tossed 20 feet in the air to flip and land. However, despite all my cheerleading observations, and some participation, I never truly understood the culture as I do now.

Photo: Me (Barry Walton) in 7th Grade Cheering with the High School team at a soccer game.

At the beginning of 2023, a company that's been a staple in creating music for cheerleading teams, called CheerSounds, approached us at Endless Media. They were seeking content to help them connect with their consumers. Moreover, they wanted to tell a story about something they deeply cared about – the story of small gyms, and mom-and-pop style businesses, all competing to stay relevant against the 'mega-corp' gyms across the nation.

From the outset, I liked the idea. I was drawn to the notion of sharing the stories of those who coach and manage gyms out of love for the kids and the sport; this resonated with my own beliefs and why I started my company. Thus, in a short amount of time, we assembled a small team and got to work, uncovering small gyms along the Florida coast that we could spend a day profiling.

After just over 2 months of work and profiling three gyms along with their coaches, owners, and students, we've created four spectacular pieces that we're exceedingly proud to share.

In the end, I finally comprehended why these kids put in such immense effort and why these coaches are so deeply invested. While they certainly derive satisfaction from competition and performance, what I witnessed was a sense of camaraderie, community, and a commitment to each other that's increasingly rare in our culture today. These kids put in a lot of effort, tremendously so, to achieve personal goals that offer a sense of reward and connection. Meanwhile, the coaches put in even more effort to give back all that these kids give to the sport.

This experience inspired me and prompted me to consider my own team. I asked myself, "What can I do to ensure I'm maintaining camaraderie, commitment, and respect for everyone I work with?" The answer is simple: work diligently, remain humble, and prioritize serving others over oneself. That's what I truly appreciate about my work – it constantly teaches me new things that aid in my self-improvement.

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