Remember Cheerlebrities? If you’re anything like me, that word probably sends a chill down your spine. Sometime 7 or 8 years ago, the cheer world became obsessed with individual cheerleaders for either their good looks, insane skill or a combination of both.
Cheerlebrities had a lot going for them at their peak. Brand deals, lots of Instagram followers, and being chased out of arenas by screaming fans were just a few of the perks. A competition company called Cheerlebrity even popped up that played into the whole phenomenon. It was fun!
Regardless of how you feel about cheerlebrities as a whole, we have to agree that for the most part, these kids were pretty incredible athletes. Many of the Cheerlebrity OG’s have left the cheer world, and now, we’re interested in finding out where they’ve gone.
We recently caught up with one of the world’s favorite Lady Bullets, Amanda Graceffa. She’s living the dream in SoCal and was gracious enough to spare an hour of her time.
Who ~is~ Amanda Graceffa?
Today, Amanda G. is a 22-year-old grad student living in sunny San Diego, CA. But you probably remember her as the California All Stars Bullet whose 2011 standing tumbling pass was longer than Kim Kardashian’s first marriage.
While Amanda was still cheering, she was your typical obsessed teen who couldn’t get enough of that cheer life. In her spare time, you could find her memorizing cheer lyrics, doing jump sequences and stunts in her living room, trading t-shirts and talking to strangers online. During her senior cheer years, she began to notice that people knew her, and strangers would ask to take photos with her.
She even had her own thread on the Fierceboards! There’s nothing better than reading a bunch of strangers’ comment about fixing your skirt before you flip your body over 20 times in 10 seconds!
Her World Champion Cheer Career
This Southern California native started her cheer career at Magic, the gym that merged to create Pacific Coast Magic a few years back. Amanda first tried out for cheer in 2004. Fun fact: at tryouts, she did a back handspring to her head and cried. Turns out, even extremely talented athletes have to start somewhere!
A Brief Timeline:
- Magic – Small Senior Worlds 2007 and 2008
- Cali Coed – Unlimited Coed Worlds 2009 – won the gold medal
- Cali Coed – Large Coed Worlds 2010 – won the silver medal
- Cali Small Senior Worlds 2011 and 2012 – won the silver medal both times
In her first season at CA, she won Worlds with the legendary Cali Coed bring home California Allstars first-ever Worlds win.
In 2010-2011, she joined CA’s Small Senior team, which was then known as Elite. This iconic team is still talked about today and in our opinion, is one of the best routines of all time. They had all the right ingredients to create the ultimate hype.
Every year there’s a team that everyone just loves and in 2011, that was Cali Elite. Small senior was intense that year, and Panthers ended up taking home the gold medal. 2011 was the year Amanda became famous for her incredible tumbling, good looks, and witty humor.
California All Stars Elite – Worlds 2011
How did she deal with losing all the time?
Amanda may have been famous, but she lost a lot. However, it’s not just Amanda who lost a lot. It’s all of us. Most cheerleaders lose the majority of the time. So dark and dreary, I KNOW! But, it’s not a bad thing. And honestly, cheerleaders could write a masterclass in what it’s like to lose and try again.
Losing isn’t easy, and it’s normal for even the toughest athletes to feel disheartened. I was interested in learning how a high-level athlete like Amanda pushed herself when the outcome wasn’t ideal.
When asked how it felt to lose Worlds in 2011 after such an iconic season, she looked me dead in the eyes and just said “devastating.” To this day, she doesn’t like to talk about it because it’s heartbreaking. Listen, losing Worlds sucks. But what sucks more is getting silver three years in a row.
After Worlds 2011, she felt the hype slip away and, for awhile, thought about leaving cheer. She thought that Elite had lost at their absolute best and was discouraged. But, she continued and had another iconic year with Lady Bullets. It was the close bond with her fellow teammates that pulled her out of her silver slump. When in doubt, rely on those around you.
What’s it like to be famous?
Amanda is incredibly humble and would never talk about herself like this. She was on the tame end of the cheerlebrity craziness. So what I’m saying is that she never sold her own merch.
Her tumbling is what drew people to her. Her toe-full was higher than my aspirations and her tumbling had more pep than me on my best days.
One of Amanda’s favorite pastimes was to stalk the Fierceboards. One day, she discovered that people were arguing over whether or not it was “okay” for her to fix her skirt while she waited to tumble. It was then that Amanda knew things would never be the same. Kidding. Kinda.
After reading strangers quarrel about her fashion choices, she decided to call it quits on the Fierceboards. She stopped reading what people had to say because it was messing with her head.
Another strange moment for her occurred at Worlds 2011. Her mom was watching Lady Bullets during finals and she remembers hearing strangers around her screaming “go Amanda!” before her corner pass. Amanda had fans, and all they wanted was to see her succeed.
All-in-all, Amanda stayed down-to-earth and has probably never referred to herself as a cheerlebrity. However, she did agree to this articles, so there’s that ;).
Life After Cheer
Life has been good to Amanda since leaving the cheer world, except for the fact that she’s lost more than 2,000 Instagram followers.
After 2012, Amanda did the unthinkable. She decided not to pursue college cheerleading and to turn to the dark side… acrobatics and tumbling. Her long time dream was to cheer on Cheer Athletics Wildcats, but found it difficult to find college scholarships for cheer.
A friend told her to talk to acro & tumbling coach at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She sent them a video of her tumbling and stunting. Baylor responded a few days later asking her to send another video of her skills on hard floor. But, funny thing was, she was tumbling on hard floor, and they were SHOOK! Long story short, Amanda ended up on Baylor’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team.
Amanda’s Tryout Video
She spent her four years of undergrad at Baylor. Her transition from cheer to acro wasn’t all smooth sailing. For starters, she was told that she tumbled incorrectly. Yep, the queen of tumbling was told that she was not a good tumbler. Acro and tumbling derives directly from gymnastics. As well know, gymnasts are much more technical in their approach to flipping your body over than cheerleaders are.
Amanda spent the first couple years relearning form and execution until she was put into their routines. She’s proof that even the best can get better and won Nationals with Baylor in 2015 and 2016.
Baylor at 2016 NCATA Nationals
Why More Cheerleaders Should Consider Acro and Tumbling
Amanda is ALL about Acro and Tumbling and wishes more cheerleaders would consider it. It’s a NCATA sport, which operates under the national gymnastics umbrella. What that means is that the sport has access to real resources like trainers, tutors, scholarships, and more. There are a number of well-known cheerleaders who have joined the acrobatics and tumbling movement including Kelsey Rule, Kiara Nowlin, Molly Gibbons, and Toni Bronisevsky.
Cheerleading is making strides of its own to become a sport, especially now that it has Olympic provisional status. But, acro and tumbling offers a solid alternative to college cheer. In Amanda’s experience, she feels incredibly blessed to have been part of a program that supports female college athletes.
Where She is Today
Amanda graduated from Baylor in 2016 and is now a grad student in San Diego. She hopes to one day to become a high school counselor and guide the youth in the right direction. You should go follow her on Instagram, she’s feeling self-conscious about her following. Seriously. Go do it.