Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Varsity Spirit?

  • Varsity Spirit is all things spirit, including cheerleading, dance and performing arts. Focused on safety, entertainment and traditional school leadership, our employees and staff have been dedicated to celebrating school spirit since 1974. 
  • Varsity Spirit is proud of its heritage and its role in transforming cheerleading into the high-energy, athletic global phenomenon it is today. As a company that is largely comprised of former spirit leaders, we carry with us each day the values we learned as spirit team members. 

Who is Varsity Brands?

Varsity Brands consists of a family of companies – BSN SPORTS, Varsity Spirit and Herff Jones, each with the mission of elevating the student experience for young people. Varsity Spirit is the cheer, dance and performing arts division of Varsity Brands 

How was Varsity Spirit founded and how has it expanded?

  • Jeff Webb started Varsity Spirit in 1974 at his mom’s kitchen table to provide educational training camps for cheerleaders. Eventually, the company evolved to include a number of brands that focus on school and club (all star) based cheer and dance camps, competitions, education, performing arts, and apparel and accessories under the Varsity Spirit brand. 
  • Recognizing the need for high performance fabrics and designs for modern cheerleading, in 1979 Jeff and his team created Varsity Spirit Fashion. 
  • The first National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC) was held in 1980 at Seaworld in Orlando, Florida. Today, NHSCC is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort. 
  • Varsity All Star is made up of a family of unique brands (including CHEERSPORT, NCA All-Star, JAMfest!) which strive to set the industry standard and elevate the competition experience. Each brand offers its own style, awards and opportunities so that every team can find the events that match its program’s needs. 
  • Varsity University offers comprehensive educational programming to schools and athletic programs worldwide. Through a combination of specialized online courses and in-person seminars, Varsity University provides the resources necessary for educators, coaches and gym owners to enhance the student experience.  
  • The Summit is a season-capping goal for many competitive all star teams and was launched in 2013. The Dance Summit and D2 Summit soon followed, expanding opportunities for gyms of all sizes. 
  • In 2019, Varsity Spirit launched Varsity Pro, centered around professional dance and cheer teams in the NBA and NFL, providing custom choreography, apparel, audition combos and judges, and recruiting opportunities. 
  • In 2019, Varsity Spirit’s expansion continued into the band community with Varsity Performing Arts to serve the performing arts community, including marching bands, pep bands, color guards and percussion groups with training camps, competition experiences, as well as apparel and accessories.  

What is Varsity Spirit focused on today?

  •  Varsity Spirit works to transform America’s high schools by helping young people engage their classmates and communities. We do this through encouraging cheerleading, dance and band participation, educational camps, and competitions. 
  • At our educational summer camps, run by the leaders and experts in spirit team training, we teach cutting edge skills, game day material and choreography. It is always our highest priority to teach proper stunt progressions, explain the latest safety rules, and provide an incredible environment for all 350,000 athletes that attend our camps each year. 
  • We work daily to continue to revolutionize uniform aesthetics by combining function with fashion, and today we focus on outfitting athletes around the world.  

Who is Varsity Performing Arts?

Varsity Performing Arts, which is comprised of Stanbury Uniforms, DSI and SA Feather, was launched to serve the performing arts community, including marching bands, pep bands, color guards and percussion groups. Varsity Performing Arts will be offering new training camps and competition experiences to schools and performers nationwide.  

  • Since 1917, Stanbury Uniforms has produced marching band uniforms. Stanbury is known for exceptional customer service, impeccable attention to detail, creative and innovative designs, and quality products that stand the test of time. 
  • Since 1981, DSI has supplied accessories to schools, band boosters, students and teachers around the globe. DSI has a presence in every US state and in 12 countries around the world.  
  • Founded in 1906, SA Feather is a fourth-generation wholesale feather goods supplier with an established reputation for quality, service and value. Most notably, the company is a premier manufacturer of marching band plumes for the band industry, and a specialty supplier of costume, millinery and special events products. 

Why did Varsity Spirit get into the band space?

Working with band aligns perfectly with our mission of elevating the student experience. 15-20% of students participate in one of the three major school spirit activities – cheer, dance and band. By providing them support to work together and build spirit and engagement, we believe we can transform America’s schools. 

How can I work for Varsity Spirit?

You can apply for jobs at Varsity Spirit by visiting the Careers page on varsity.com, which lists all job openings company-wide in Memphis and across the country. 

Are there other companies who provide the same kind of services and products as Varsity Spirit?

Yes. There are dozens of companies and organizations operating in the cheerleading apparel, camps and competitions space, and thousands that offer training and education. In the apparel space alone, there are dozens of businesses that focus on cheerleading, as well as major sports brands, including Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. Our company was founded by entrepreneurs and we are excited by the continuous growth and expansion in all areas of the cheerleading industry. 

Does Varsity Spirit support or engage in any philanthropic endeavors?

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the national philanthropic partner of Varsity Brands and we are proud to support their mission of finding cures for childhood cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. Since 2011, we have raised more than $9M for the kids of St. Jude. In 2020, we celebrate 10 years of partnership and have pledged to raise $15M by 2025.  
  • In 2009, Varsity Spirit partnered with The Sparkle Effect – a national nonprofit organization that generates, outfits, trains and sustains school-based cheer and dance teams that bring together students with and without disabilities. Through our partnership, we have helped train and outfit over 200 teams. The Sparkle Effect has teams in 30 states that have directly involved over 10,000 students.  
  • Varsity Brands released a study revealing the powerful link between school spirit, involvement, achievement and self-confidence. It found that students with higher levels of spirit perform better academically, are more involved, and feel happier and more connected to their schools and communities. Inspired by these findings, we created the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards. This program celebrates schools, organizations and individuals that go above and beyond the call of duty to build school pride, student engagement and community spirit – awarding $100,000 annually since 2015.  

Is Varsity Spirit taking steps to protect the environment?

At Varsity Spirit, our company’s foundation is built on our shared values. Among other things, we believe in service, integrity, and respect – which includes protecting the environment. We want to have a positive social impact and ideally engage our customers, contractors and vendors to make a commitment with us. We are incorporating eco-smart, sustainable materials made from recycled water bottles into our 2020 fashion line and expect to remove millions of water bottles from the environment in this first year.  

Who are Varsity Spirit's partners?

  • Varsity Spirit partners with many companies to enhance the athletes’ experiences at our events. Visit our sponsors page to see more. 
  • Since 1995, Varsity Spirit has partnered with Walt Disney World to host seven events annually at thWalt Disney World® Resort, in Orlando, Florida. In 2018, Disney built The Arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the first building in the world designed specifically for cheerleading and dance competitions, to accommodate more cheerleaders and dancers than ever before. 
  • Since 1983, Varsity Spirit has partnered with ESPN to broadcast cheerleading and dance around the world. Varsity Spirit produces 10 hours of programming each year that ESPN and ESPN2 broadcast around the world. 

How many cheerleaders are there in the world?

The International Cheer Union (ICU) estimates that there are about 3.5 million athletes in 70 nations. 

Does Varsity Spirit work with professional cheerleaders in the NFL and NBA?

In 2019, Varsity Spirit announced the launch of Varsity Pro, a new program that offers professional dance teams custom choreography, apparel and event opportunities. In July 2019, we became the official outfitter of the Memphis Grizzlies dance team, the Grizz Girls, and we look forward to partnering with other professional sports organizations. 

Do you have to wear Varsity Spirit uniforms to compete at Varsity Spirit events?

No. We are proud of our Varsity Spirit Fashion and Varsity All Star Fashion brands, but teams are not required to wear them to compete with us. While school cheer teams are encouraged to use signs, poms and megaphones for crowd effect, these types of products, as well as uniforms, can be purchased from many sources other than Varsity Spirit. In fact, every year a number of championship-winning teams do not wear Varsity Spirit uniforms. 

What are the different types of cheerleading?

Cheer is an athletic activity governed USA Cheer (which was created to serve as the national governing body of cheer), which includes the following distinct and separate disciplines in the scholastic and non-scholastic sectors: 

Scholastic 

  • Traditional Cheerleading – An organized cheerleading group sponsored by public or private schools as a student activity focused on enhancing the “game day experience,” promoting school spirit, student leadership, community service, and supporting other school sports teams. While not their primary focus, traditional cheerleading teams can also compete at regional, state and national competitions in a format that reflects their role and responsibilities at their schools. 
  • STUNT – The interscholastic sport discipline of cheer that is exclusively focused on competition in a head-to-head, four quarter format. It is a spring sport, and it is the only discipline designed to meet the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) legal sport requirements of Title IX for schools in the US. 

Non-Scholastic 

  • Club Cheer – Cheer teams from private gyms (also known in the US as “all star” teams) whose primary focus is to compete against cheer teams from other private gyms in a routine format specific to club cheer. 
  • STUNT – Discipline of cheer that is exclusively focused on competition in a head-to-head, four quarter format between private gyms.
  • Recreational Cheerleading – Non-school based cheerleading teams who support other non-school based athletic teams.  These cheerleading teams may also compete. 

Which types of cheerleading are sports?

In the United States, there is a distinction between sport in the general sense and what meets the legal definition of sport for school athletic teams under Title IX. The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determines what qualifies as a sport for school athletic teams under Title IX. In September 2008, the OCR issued a document, Dear Colleague Letter: Athletic Activities Counted for Title IX Compliance, that outlined several factors to consider on a case-by-case basis to determine whether an activity can be counted as an intercollegiate or interscholastic sport for the purpose of Title IX compliance. These factors include an activity’s structure, administration, team preparation and competition. 

SCHOOL CHEER 

  • In a general sense, yes, school cheerleading fits a broad definition of sport. However, school cheerleading, which supports other athletic teams, does not fit the OCR definition of a Title IX scholastic sport. Because the majority of their time is spent on leadership activities in their schools and communities and not strictly on competition.
  • That said, school cheerleading is more than a sport. Cheerleading is athletic in nature and while some schools compete (10% on average), they only compete one or two times a year. Cheerleaders also create a strong sense of school pride and elevate spirit within their schools and communities through five key roles – Crowd Leader, Spirit Raiser, Ambassador, Athlete and Entertainer. These five roles are what sets cheerleading apart from traditional sports. 
    • Crowd Leader- With the use of spirit raising props like signs, poms, megaphones and flags, school cheerleaders focus on creating a game day environment that unifies fans. This is done by using a combination of crowd effective chants and skills to rally the crowd together to support the athletes on the field or court.  
    • Spirit Raiser- School cheerleaders help to build a connection between their place of learning and their community. Spirit raising ranges from planning and hosting pep rallies and spirit weeks, to encouraging members of the community to come out and support their athletic teams.  
    • Ambassador- Cheerleaders volunteer at local philanthropic events, represent the school at events, and meet with fans face-to-face.  
    • Athlete- Cheerleading requires strength, technique and flexibility to properly perform stunts, jumps and tumbling. Physical endurance is required throughout games, competitions and practices.    
    • Entertainer- Cheerleaders entertain the crowd between plays, during timeouts and halftimes, and at other spirit raising events. If the crowd is engaged by the cheerleaders performing on the sidelines, they are more likely to yell for the athletes, leading the team to victory.  

ALL STAR 

  • In the general sense, yes, all star cheerleading is a sport. The main purpose of all star cheerleading is to compete. Although, all star cheerleading does not meet the OCR requirements of a Title IX sport.  

 STUNT 

  • STUNT meets the OCR definitions of a Title IX sport. STUNT is a competitive team sport that removes the crowd-leading and focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer in a four-quarter head-to-head game format including Partner Stunts, Pyramids & Tosses, Group Jumps & Tumbling, and Team Performance.  

INTERNATIONAL

  • SportAccord, the organization that designates sports internationally, recognized cheerleading as a sport in 2013. The international definition of “sport” is much broader, and therefore cheer qualifies.  
  • The International Cheer Union (ICU), the recognized world governing body for cheerleading, is active in efforts to have cheerleading added to the Olympics. 

Cheer has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) - what does that mean?

  • SportAccord, the organization that designates sports internationally, designated cheerleading as an Olympic sport in 2017. The international definition of “sport” is much broader, and therefore cheer qualifies.  
  • The International Cheer Union, the recognized world governing body for cheerleading, is active in efforts to have cheerleading added to the Olympics. Provisional sport status allows organizations to receive funding and special grants for a 3-year period. During this time, cheerleading can also petition to be fully included in the Olympic Games. 

How safe is cheerleading?

  • The 2018-19 High School RIO Study shows that cheerleading has the 4th lowest overall injury rate, ranking 17th out of 20 high school sports studied.  
  • From 2014 to 2018, data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research shows that cheerleading has experienced a major reduction in injuries. This is in large part due to additional rules and restrictions, as well as improved coaches training.  
  • In 2017-2018, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research reported there were zero catastrophic injuries in cheerleading, and two reported in the past 5 years.  
  • According to recent research, the number of catastrophic injuries from cheerleading over the past 5 years is comparable to other girls’ high school sports, including track and field, softball, and gymnastics, and is lower than those for football, baseball, wrestling, and girls’ soccer. (Note: 2018-19 data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research is not yet available.) 
  • According to the Consumer Products Safety Commissionin 2018 there were fewer emergency room visits for girls ages 14-18 for cheerleading (23,351) than girls’ basketball (55,069), soccer (40,396), softball (31,095), and volleyball (29,774). 

What safety resources exist for cheerleading?

  • In 1987, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (AACCA), created rules regarding what stunts and skills cheerleaders can perform. These rules have been updated annually, and there are currently different rules for the junior high, high school, college and all star levels of competitions. AACCA is now a part of USA Cheer, which publishes the rules. 
  • In 2009, AACCA created a safety course that was designed to inform coaches and administrators of their responsibilities and introduce important concepts in safety and risk management. The course is now offered by USA Cheer.  

How is cheerleading governed?

  • Cheerleading is regulated in all disciplines to ensure that it is practiced and performed safely in gyms, high schools and colleges throughout the country.    
  • The NCAA requires that college cheerleading programs follow USA Cheer’s rules (formerly AACCA) at their events and games, which restrict what skills can be performed. The NCAA requires that cheer programs are under the direct supervision of a professional who has completed a national cheerleading safety course. Notwithstanding, the individual colleges and their coaches are responsible for ensuring that cheerleaders receive proper treatment for any injuries.  
  • High school cheer programs are governed by their state associations, just like football, volleyball and other sports, and follow the USA Cheer or NFHS rules. 
  • USA Cheer is a non-profit corporation that serves as the National Governing Body for Sport Cheering in the United States.  It serves the entire cheer community, which includes club cheering (all star), traditional school-based cheerleading programs, and STUNT. 
  • The US All Star Federation (USASF) is a Governing Authority that establishes and oversees compliance on fair play and safety practices in all star. The USASF’s mission is to support and enrich the lives of all star athletes and members. They provide consistent rules, strive for a safe environment for athletes, drive competitive excellence, and promote a positive image for the sport. 

How does Varsity Spirit advocate for cheerleading safety?

Varsity Spirit is a leader in advocating for strong cheerleader safety standards throughout the country and around the world. We work with athletic administrators, educators and government officials to promote cheerleader access to quality facilities, knowledgeable coaches, medical professionals and safety rules. More specifically, we: 

  • Work closely with USA Cheer, which was established to serve as the National Governing Body for Sport Cheering.  
  • Follow USA Cheer rules when determining which skills to allow in our educational curriculum and at our competitive events. 
  • Conduct a safety awareness program for each individual cheerleader and coach that attends an educational training camp, which includes providing guidance on proper cheerleading safety techniques and the importance of spotting, stunt progressions (mastering lower level skills before attempting higher level skills), and spirit leading activities. 
  • Work with the NCAA and the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), as well as many individual states, to provide coaches education and rules training. 
  • Host Varsity University coaches conferences for school, recreation and all star cheer and dance coaches across the country.  

What is Varsity Spirit’s media policy?

Reducing the number of distractions at our championship events to assure the safety of our athletes as they compete is our paramount concern. As a result, the Varsity Spirit Media policy (copied below) closely monitors placement of any production cameras. 

No commercial recording (audio or visual) or commercial live streaming is allowed in the event venue or other event related venues (including, but not limited to, hotels and restaurants) or on the grounds of any such venues (collectively, “Event Locations”). In the event a team authorizes the commercial recording or streaming in any Event Location, the team will be automatically disqualified. In addition, the personal, non-commercial use of live streaming apps (such as Periscope, Facebook Live, etc.) to capture all or any part of a performance during the event is not permitted. By attending/purchasing admission to the event, each attendee grants permission to Varsity Spirit, LLC and its affiliates, designees, agents, licensees, and invitees to use the image, likeness, actions and statements of the attendee in any live or recorded audio, video, film, or photographic display or other transmission, exhibition, publication, or reproduction made of, or at, the event in any medium, whether now known or hereafter created, or context for any purpose, including commercial or promotional purposes, without further authorization or compensation. Any team traveling with a video crew will be disqualified. 

Why doesn’t Varsity Spirit allow outside production crews into its events?

All the teams that compete work incredibly hard. That’s why, to respect their work and limit unnecessary disruptions at our events, we have maintained a strict video policy that limits outside production cameras. This policy is similar to other major sports and entertainment entities. We do this to ensure the focus remains on the safety of the athletes and creating memorable experiences for all competitors and their family members. 

Can you watch cheerleading on TV?

  • Since 1983, Varsity Spirit has partnered with ESPN to broadcast cheerleading and dance around the world, and Varsity Spirit produces 10 hours of programming each year that ESPN and ESPN2 broadcasts to more than 100 million homes in 32 countries. 
  • Varsity TV’s livestreams provide even more access to cheerleading and dance programming than ever before. 

What is USA Cheer?

USA Cheer is a non-profit corporation that serves as the National Governing Body for Sport Cheering in the United States. It serves the entire cheer community, which includes club cheering (all star), traditional school-based cheerleading programs, and STUNT. 

Does Varsity Spirit own USA Cheer?

No. USA Cheer is an independent organization and is governed by a 15-member board.

What is the USASF?

The US All Star Federation (USASF) is a Governing Authority that establishes and oversees compliance on fair play and safety practices in all star. The USASF’s mission is to support and enrich the lives of all star athletes and members. They provide consistent rules, strive for a safe environment for athletes, drive competitive excellence, and promote a positive image for the sport. 

Does Varsity Spirit own the USASF?

No. The USASF is an independent not-for-profit organization. 

What is the ICU?

The International Cheer Union (ICU) is the recognized world governing body of cheerleading. There are currently 116 member nations in the International Cheer Union. We believe that the ICU enriches cheerleading globally, providing an effective international sport governance platform that ensures continued worldwide growth of cheerleading. 

Does Varsity Spirit own the ICU?

No. The ICU is an independent organization where each of the 116 member countries has an equal vote. 

Will cheerleading be in the Olympics?

  • The International Olympic Committee granted Provisional Olympic Status to the ICU, which is an important milestone as it continues working to evolve cheerleading on a global scale.
  • Having an established governing body like the ICU along with IOC recognition can lead to critical local government support for cheerleading programs that may not otherwise be available. The ICU is the key organization that globally promotes high standards for training, competition and safety.

Has the coronavirus impacted Varsity Spirit events?

At Varsity Spirit, the health and safety of our athletes, coaches, employees, families and friends is our top priority. Varsity Spirit is diligently monitoring the Coronavirus, closely watching official information from health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization as it relates to our larger community and our events, camps and competitions. Get the latest information here: varsity.com/health-update.