Palestine competitive cheer group heads to nationals

Apr. 25—This weekend, two teams from Titanium Cheer & Tumble will compete at the Grand Nationals at Universal Studios in Florida.

"This is a really big opportunity for not only our program in general, but also our town," said Lacee McKinney, Titanium owner and director. "We've never had a competitive cheer team come from here on bids (to Grand Nationals). This is such a huge accomplishment to be able to attend such a prestigious event. Titanium Cheer is setting out to have our small town recognized for some extremely talented athletes."

"Being on this team is like a dream," said Emily Hanna, 19, a member of Team Bulletproof. "The effort and determination put into this season is like no other. From the beginning we had goals to become the best we could possibly be, and making it to Grand Nationals was the biggest accomplishment we could've hoped for.

"We are extremely blessed to have the opportunity to compete for a huge national title. I have been with this program since the beginning, and every year our program gets better. With this being my last season, I am extremely thrilled to end the season on such a high note and cannot wait to take the mat in Orlando."

McKinney said the regular competition season runs June-April. She said throughout the season the teams attend both state and national competitions. At those competitions judges award "bids" to the team with the highest scores. Team Bulletproof and Team Teal from Titanium received full-paid bids to attend for being in the number one and number two spots nationwide.

"These kids, every time they step out on that mat, they leave their heart and soul there," she said. "It's one of those things they pour everything into. I'm glad to see their success is now rolling over into accomplishments."

This is the first time Titanium Cheer has the opportunity to attend this event. McKinney said her competition teams went to eight competitions this season.

She also said she grew up in competitive cheer and dance, became a junior coach at 18 and has played every role from cheer mom to cheer coach to cheer director and now owner. She opened Titanium Cheer & Tumbling four years ago. Her program currently offers recreational and competitive cheer along with tumbling lessons for students 3-19 years old.

"Anytime you coach youth sports, it's the most rewarding thing," she said. "I've coached club volleyball at the Y, youth basketball at Elkhart Intermediate, T-Ball for PYA. I think coaching just runs in my blood."

McKinney said her gym is growing and it recently relocated for expansion to 1312 Moody St. She said new classes will be available in the near future.

"We hope to get something going here in Palestine for the kids in this community," she said. "These kids just need something (to do) here."

At the new location McKinney will also offer an open gym and birthday parties.

McKinney said her gym attracts beginner athletes who have never done anything or who might have limited experience with a cheer or tumbling class.

"What we try to focus on in the first year for these students is getting them involved to the point that they want to stay involved, lighting that passion so that they want to stay with it," she said. "In comp cheer there is no bench, there is no sitting out, everyone has a spot and everyone's role is crucial."

McKinney said that although they have breaks that line up with the local school districts and holidays throughout the year, once the competitive season kicks off in December, "it is fast rolling, it's non-stop, it's a big commitment.

"They have to follow through with their commitments," she added. "Then at the end of April, they decide if they are coming back or not, but you have to finish through April."

McKinney said tryouts for the 2024-2025 season have started. Donations are accepted to help teams with competition and travel. Donors' names are listed on banners that are located in the gym and next season they will be listed on a T-shirt as well. Scholarships also are available for students to take lessons.

For more information about Titanium Cheer & Tumble, call 936-204-3057 or email