Elite Fitness Celebrates Recent Cheer Victories 

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – Elite Fitness in Grapeland recently competed and won big in the Cheer America “Cheercation Nationals: Kalahari” in Round Rock winning some of the top places in the fierce competition. The gym took four different teams of all ages with different routines to the competition. 

Channin Spisak said the girls won outsized awards in spite of being a small competitor at the meet. 

“Our U.S. team, which is our home team had a very competitive division with eight teams and we came in fourth,” Spisak said. “We were really excited about that!”

The “Grace” team, a youth team, won first in the their division. The “Glory” team, aged 11-18 also placed first. Out of all the level two and three teams, “Glory” was ranked first and “Grace” came in second. 

The gym is going into its seventh season, with Spisak working full-time at Grapeland Independent School District (GISD) as the Junior High Principal. Husband Brad owns a construction company and serves on the GISD school board. The two also have two young foreign exchange students living with them, along with their own children. 

Asked how they fit so much into a day, Spisak said, “We feel like it’s a blessing. When the Lord brought us here six years ago, I had planned on just doing the gym but COVID opened up the door for me to go back into education. I guess we just want to do good things in the community where you live in and try to help as much as you can.”

Twelve-year-old Edah Harris from Elkhart Junior High has been a gymnast at Elite Fitness for six years, learning to cheer for the last two years. She says she began cheering to learn and grow with her fellow cheerleaders. 

“I really like being on a team and the bonding of friendship. They do do that in gymnastics but I definitely think being in cheer helped me make a lot more friends,” Harris said. “And it taught me grit, resilience and skills that will help me in the future. I definitely think I could get a scholarship from cheer to go to a good college.”

For 11-year-old Sydney Catoe from Latexo schools, the decision to work on cheer was an easy one. 

“Because they do all the fun stuff! And some really good friendships,” Catoe said. “I learned you can get closer to people and they’re people you can trust.”

Trust plays in a big part in cheerleading, especially when you leap in the air hoping there will be someone below ready to catch your fall. The Messenger was able to visit with Spisak and the various teams, of all ages, leaping and working and laughing, in all different stages of learning their craft. 

Evaluations are beginning at the gym for all age and experience levels before the start of the new season in June. Catoe said even if you have never tried cheerleading, you never know what you are capable of. 

“I feel like even if you don’t think you can do it, I believe you can, because I started off not even doing a cartwheel and now I can do that,” Catoe explained. 

Harris said the coaching and the values of the gym made the difference in both the competitions and her enjoyment of the sport. 

“Coach Channin is the sweetest and she’s perfect. I think we have really good coaches. We have a good balance, because coach Channin is sweet and Coach Brad is strict,” Harris said. “Their concern is for your safety and they want you to have fun. As I got older, I learned it’s better to do something you enjoy because you really do enjoy it.”

Spisak’s goals for the program have always been clear. 

“My goal is to create a fun, encouraging, loving environment. I think whenever you place Christ first and you teach the kids to do that as well, you’re going to see success,” Spisak concluded. “Sometimes it’s a win and sometimes it’s learning how to be a good teammate. It’s how to reach our goals, how to take a loss and try to keep getting better. The kids are going to be successful because they’re learning to be better people and it’s not just about cheer and gymnastics.”

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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