Cheer coach never envisioned hall of fame career
Last year, Pam Puckett received a cheer-worthy honor.
In early November, at the 2012 AmeriCheer & AmeriDance Buckeye Open Nationals, Puckett was among the four individuals inducted into the Buckeye Coaches Hall of Fame for contributions as coaches in the cheerleading and dance industry.
"I'm very appreciative of it," Puckett said. "It was unexpected, so it was really exciting."
Puckett, 56, has been involved with cheerleading a total of 35 years. She's been a coach and worked a number of camps all over the country, and during that time, she has coached multiple teams to a combined 125 national titles.
"I love seeing the kids utilize their talents," Puckett said. "It's very difficult. It takes a lot of work for the kids to get those skills, but it's very rewarding."
For the past 16 years, she has been the owner and a coach of the Cheer Center, a cheerleading gym and training facility she founded at 1761 Gateway Circle in Grove City.
"I kind of went out on a limb and said, 'Let's try this,' " she said. "I'm glad I did."
Puckett said the cheerleading industry can be divided roughly into two styles: school cheerleading, the type performed at school sporting events and is usually more ground-based, and competitive, which involves more elaborate routines and moves.
"I've worked both sides for a long time," she said. "The competitive side has grown so much the last 15 years. It's incredible."
It was that growth in competitive cheerleading, Puckett said, that led her to found the Cheer Center.
Before founding the center, Puckett coached school teams and worked for such cheerleading companies as the Golden Eagles Cheerleading Association and the Eastern Cheerleading Association teaching at summer camps, but many of the school dancers she coached wanted to move on to competitive.
"I saw there was a need in Ohio," she said. "A lot of kids do both."
A former cheerleader herself at Teays Valley High School, Puckett said she always knew she wanted to be a coach.
"I never knew I'd make it a career," she said. "I consider myself very lucky."