Harrisburg is home to athletes of all ages and provides countless opportunities to learn and grow in a wide range of sports.
Many youth are devoted to the high-energy sports of tumbling and cheerleading on the competitive and recreational levels.
Several Harrisburg girls are members of Team Onyx, a part of Prodigy All-Stars. The program teaches cheerleading to athletes of all ages and skill levels. Prodigy All-Stars was formed in March 2009 by co-owners Amanda Smith and Hope Emert. On April 1, 2009, Prodigy moved into its gym, at 4500 Motorsports Drive in Concord, and began offering classes in cheer and tumbling.
Smith, the director of Prodigy All-Star, had been a coach in the industry for more than 10 years prior to opening the gym. Emert had been an All-Star parent, having two daughters coached by Smith for the last eight years.
Laurie Pillsbury of Harrisburg has two daughters in the Prodigy program.
"The coaching staff, led by Amanda Smith, is outstanding, and the business, owned by Hope Emert, is extremely efficient and well-managed," she said. "We have never seen this level of expertise anywhere."
This first-year gym now has seven all-star cheerleading teams, a recreational cheer team, a boys wrestling program, a special-needs cheer team and more than 25 tumbling classes for beginner to advanced athletes. Prodigy All-Stars has 350 enrolled children with 136 all-star cheerleaders, ages 3-18.
Helena LaGarde, Prodigy's marketing director, is thrilled with the interest in Prodigy's teams and classes.
"Our goal is to make athletes of any level feel valued and driven, providing experiences in leadership, confidence and work ethics," LaGarde said.
"My girls love cheerleading because it keeps them physically fit. The skills gained through cheerleading carry over into other areas of their lives...from commitment, hard work, cooperation, discipline and stamina. I find these things to be invaluable life lessons," Pillsbury said.
Team Onyx consists of 20 girls, ages 8-14, who attend local area elementary, middle and high schools.
From the first competition, the team has had success and the members are "five-time undefeated champions."
They have received prestigious titles including the titles of Universal Spirit Association, North Carolina State Champions and the USA "Spirit of Hope" National Champions.
"This is an amazing group," said LaGarde.
When forming a team, it usually takes a while for kids to practice together, learn about each other and then gel.
"It wasn't that way with this group, they started strong and continue to grow stronger, together," she said.
"Besides the physical component of it, my girls love the bonds that they are able to make with the girls on their team," All the girls love and respect each other so much, and it epitomizes the meaning of 'team' sport," Pillsbury said.