Illusions brings cheer to borough

August 12, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A new competitive cheerleading program in Greencastle is providing instruction, coaching and fun for 35 students, and it hasn't officially opened yet.

Illusions All Stars, owned and operated by April Tomlinson, started holding practices a month ago. She said work continues on the cement block building behind Family Dollar, and hopes that the Plexiglas will be installed in the upstairs observation area by Saturday, when a grand opening celebration will take place.

The Tomlinson family - April, husband David, and children Brittany, 10, and Benjamin, 4 - has been involved with competitive cheerleading since Brittany started at age 5.


"She loves the sport and made me grow to love it, too," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson founded Illusions "to bring kids ages 4 through 18 the opportunity to advance in skills and have fun while doing it."

"Safety is number one before anything," Tomlinson said. "All coaches are safety-certified."

So far, all of the students are girls, but boys are welcome. Participants are divided into four squads - Peewee, Youth, Junior and Senior.

Competitive cheerleading, which rapidly is gaining in popularity in the United States, involves dancing, cheering, stunting and tumbling, Tomlinson said.

"This is not football cheering," Tomlinson said. "Texas, North Carolina and California are huge on the sport, and it's increasing in popularity in this area."

Illusions squads will travel to competitions in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Hagerstown, and possibly beyond, Tomlinson said. They practice on a 42-foot-by-42-foot spring floor and a tumble track.

Seven members of the Youth squad went through a drill of frog jumps and worked on their cheer Wednesday evening with coach Ana Ulrich. Later, they bounced the length of the tumble track with their arms out, then jumped to a split in the air.

After each had had a turn, Ulrich called out, "Pikes, ladies!" and they complied.

Ana's daughter Danielle, 8, is a power tumbler who practices three hours a day. She strung together a series of back springs, tucks and layouts diagonally across the spring floor to demonstrate her skills for a visitor.

In her first practice at Illusions, Quiera Shindledecker, 8, of Waynesboro, Pa., said she learned how to do a split in the air by "going slow, then I went high, then higher." She previously had cheered with another squad.

A member of the senior squad, Jessica Batzel, 15, of St. Thomas, Pa., said she has been cheering for seven years. Her favorite move is the round-off. She is working on her cheer and dance routine in preparation for a November competition.

Ulrich said that both individual routines and teamwork are stressed.

In September, Illusions will offer hip-hop classes for first-graders and older, with separate classes for adults. Tiffany Shindledecker, who has taught hip-hop at the Waynesboro YMCA, will be the instructor.

Saturday's grand opening will include a yard sale, bake sale and children's activities.

If you go...

What: Grand opening of Illusions All Stars

Where: 118 Antrim Way South, Greencastle, PA., behind Family Dollar

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For information, call 717-765-9377 or send e-mail to

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