Matrix Cheer All Stars have announced they will be shutting their doors in Strathmore, amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and low recruitment to the club.
Coach and owner, Cassi Weiss, said the closure is particularly disheartening, given the club was in the middle of their best season to date.
“It’s a little hard that way, but we’re really happy with what we did with the club in the time that we had it,” said Weiss. “Everyone’s sad, we had a good run, but I think everyone’s really understanding at the situation that we’re in, (and) our enrollment was quite low.”
Weiss explained Matrix Cheer was formed in 2009. The club was born out of what used to be Jump House Gymnastics, which had taken on coaching the cheerleading team from Strathmore High School.
“We grew the program and in the end we had five full teams. We went to the Summit Championship in Orlando, Florida … we’ve been to Las Vegas (and) we’ve been to nationals in Niagara Falls,” said Weiss. “We were definitely in the middle of our best season ever when the pandemic hit, so that’s definitely the hardest part.”
A team can be anywhere from five to 30 athletes who perform a 150 second routine consisting of tumbling, jumps and dance choreography. Weiss described the sport as combining aspects from gymnastics, acrobatics, and dance.
Athletes who were enrolled with Matrix Cheer were aged three to 18. According to Weiss, those who have chosen to pursue the sport in other communities will now have to travel to Langdon or Calgary to continue training and competing.
“The athletes that we did have, most of them have tried out at other clubs, so I’m really excited and proud to see they’re continuing on with this sport even though it’s not in our community,” said Weiss. “Hopefully someone puts something together after the pandemic when we can go back to Scholastic Cheer.”
With the closure of the club, Weiss added the response from the community, including alumni who aged out has been very supportive and empathetic about the process.
“When we announced that we were closing, a lot of past athletes reached out to us from even almost 10 years ago,” said Weiss. “I can see just in the fact that they’ve kept up with us … even though they’ve been out of cheer for five-plus years it still saddens them to see that we’re closing.
“Just by seeing that, I can see that we made an impact. As a coach and an owner, it excited me to see the impact just in the athletes’ lives.”
Weiss said despite the emotional impact of closing the club, she said it’s a good chapter to close on, going out with a good record under their belts.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times