Cheerleaders still without equipment

By Melanie Ruberti

April 23, 2014

Some promises being fulfilled, others still remain broken. That’s according to parents whose children are part of the Cheer Alliance program.

In a April 19-20 LaGrange Daily News article, the owners of Cheer Alliance, John and Kellie Varga, decided to end the cheerleading program in LaGrange last month. Many parents were upset because they claim the Varga’s only told them the gym was in “transition” at a year end banquet the weekend of April 12th. More were furious when they learned John Varga came down unannounced last Wednesday to remove equipment and rip up flooring at the Cheer Alliance gym, located inside the Troup County Rec Center.

Among the allegations from parents: without the equipment, the children could not finish out the season with Cheer Alliance, which was set to end on April 30th; the parents had paid up until that date. They also wanted to be reimbursed for a canceled competition in Atlanta, and a cancelled performance at an Atlanta Hawks game.

After the article appeared in the LaGrange Daily News, the Varga’s sent out an email to the parents, promising to refund the parents both performances.

“We will be posting a credit to the accounts of those who participated as a competitor at the Cheer Nation event that was canceled in Atlanta on Jan. 25th-26th, 2014. The per participant cost was $100,” the statement read. “We will also be posting a credit to the accounts of those who were to participate at the Hawks game for $10 per athlete.”

But there’s still some discrepancy over the use of the equipment. According to Sara Ann Hudson, a parent of a Cheer Alliance cheerleader, John Varga promised to leave some of the equipment behind for the students to practice on through the remainder of the season. Those items included an “Air Track” that’s used for tumbling, and flooring. But as of Tuesday, the “Air Track” and several trampolines were still missing.

In addition, Hudson said one of the remaining trampolines is scheduled to be removed this week, and the Cheer Alliance Coach’s last day will be Thursday.

“They stated that some of the equipment would be left so the athletes could finish out the season, yet, by this time next week, they’ll be lucky if they even have a floor to stand on,” said Hudson via email.

In a letter sent to the families, the Varga’s addressed the parents concerns.

“We would like to reassure families that the program will continue to run through the end of the month at the Rec Center, but to understand that the equipment not being used at the new location is being removed each day. There will be equipment at the current facility for the athletes to practice through the remainder of the season.”

The Varga’s also said they needed to start removing equipment before their lease with the Troup County Rec Center ended on April 30th.

The ownership of the “Air Track” is also being called into question. After the article, some parents stepped forward and said that specific piece of equipment was purchased by the Cheer Alliance Parents Association (CAPA), and therefore, belongs to them.

The LaGrange Daily News did reach out to the Varga’s for comment on the new allegations. They did not respond.

Meanwhile, another LaGrange gym is opening it’s doors to the Cheer Alliance squads. Heath Perkins, owner of United Cheerleading, is allowing the group to finish out their season at his gym, free of charge. Hudson said she and some of the parents have reached out to Perkins to discuss his offer.