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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2013 6 years ago

A comic-lover and a cop aim to make cheerleading a city staple

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Jerry Sasser and Lamar Morehead hope to make Ormond Beach famous for competitive cheerleading.

BY MATT MENCARINI | SPORTS EDITOR

If Ormond Beach becomes a Central Florida Mecca for competitive cheerleading in the next five years, it could have a lot to do with comic books.

That's how CheerTEK gym co-owner Jerry Sasser first became interested in the sport, anyway.

“It was Spider-Man and Batman,” he said. “They did flips and somersaults over everything, and I loved it. I was like, ‘Man, these guys are awesome.’”

And so he gave cheerleading a whirl. His partner, Jerry Sasser, however, first gave it a shot when a cheerleader walked into his high school weight room and asked if anyone wanted to practice with her and her all-female squad.

“I threw the weights down really quick,” Sasser said, with a laugh. “And I was the only one who walked out of that weight room.”

His team then went on to win a state championship, and he became the first male cheerleader in Marion County to receive a cheerleading scholarship.

But that was then. Now, both Sasser and Morehouse are concerned about the future, and with putting Ormond on the map for cheerleading, through their gym, at 499 S. Nova Road.

Despite having run other cheer gyms in the past (Sasser owned one facility in Puerto Rico), CheerTEK, which opened about six months ago, will be the one that lasts, they say.

The National Cheerleaders Association will hold its national championship this year at several Daytona Beach facilities, April 10-14, and that brings the sport to the area. But Sasser said the region still lacks a definitive cheerleading identity.

That’s where he and Morehouse come in.

The CheerTEK squad, which expects to compete in December, will have a law enforcement theme, given the six Volusia county Sheriff's Office deputies, including Sasser, who is Seabreeze High School's resource deputy, involved.

“A lot of my best and also my worst experiences have been with cheerleading,” Morehouse said of the sport. “If I was to backtrack all the way back to what actually got me started, or what gave me the inspiration to coach, it would be my mom.”

Morehead’s mom, Denise Henson, was a cheerleader at Bethune-Cookman University and now teaches health at Daytona State.

Joining his first cheerleading team took Morehead down a different path than the friends he had been associating with, whom he said were getting arrested and were involved with shootings.

“A friend of mine was held at gunpoint,” Morehead said. “He almost lost his life. Where was I at that time? ... I was at a cheerleading competition. And I thank God to this day.”

Sasser and Morehead both say they owe a lot to cheerleading, and now they want to pay it forward.

The sport led Sasser to his wife, stepdaughter and grandchildren. It kept Morehead out of trouble, and gave him the chance, after all these years, to be a superhero.

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