Elite Cheer-Nastics’ Reign receives bid to Regional Summit Championships, ECN family stays strong through pandemic

Elite Cheer-Nastics inc. would like to recognize our very own ECN Reign on their 3rd place victory at COA Southern Nationals where they received a bid to the Regional Summit Championships. This is a HUGE honor in the all-star cheerleading world.

Reign will be representing Natchitoches by competing in the Southwest Region against other youth level 2 teams from Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. The Summit founded by Varsity All Star in 2013 provides a unique experience for athletes in the non-Worlds divisions to compete against the best of the best in all levels of competition across the nation.

Due to COVID restrictions, the Summit will be held virtually for youth divisions this season. The Regional Summit will take place April 15th and scores will be posted on April 20. Reign’s performance will be available to be viewed on Varsity TV.

ECN Reign will be Elite Cheer-Nastics’ fourth team to go to this level of Nationals in the 25 years of the gym’s existence. Owned and operated by Sonja M. Palmer, Elite Cheer-Nastics, Inc has been offering and she has been teaching cheer, dance, gymnastics and tumbling since 1996 in Natchitoches, La.

“I love cheer because it is fun,” said Kellyn Mitchell. “I love to compete and have made so many good friends. We are like family.”

Despite all the setbacks with COVID, Sonja has still made a way for her teams to have an eventful and successful season.

Since 2004 Elite Cheer-Nastics has had two Wild Card Bid invites, three At Large Bid invites and a Titan Bid invite, however Coach Sonja made a “coaches call” not to sign on these bids since her program was in a rebuilding phase of training her young team coaches. Sonja said it was difficult to pass these opportunities by on these BIDS but they were such a young staff and she wanted them to become more trained through USASF, and to be a more seasoned coaches on technique and ready to attend a National and or Worlds event.

“Thanking God daily for allowing myself and my staff to continue coaching and teaching through this pandemic, we were definitely unsure about March 15 through September 15 on how we would handle our competition season and how we would work through these contactless times since we were mandated to be closed for 6 months,” said Palmer. “In September, my staff and I hit the gym masked up and ready to start practices, we have had several obstacles and we unfortunately lost a few members along the way from sickness and injuries, but God always comes through with a “returning ECN athlete” to help us practice and prepare to compete so WE get our job done.”

ECN Reign is Elite Cheer-Nastics’ youth level 2 competitive competition cheer team head coached by Destinee Tucker and assisted by Ambrosia Lawson. Destinee and Ambrosia are both former competitive cheerleaders from the ECN program. Destinee began her tumbling career recreationally in 2008 at Elite, and she began competitively cheering in 2010-2016; She began student coaching in 2013 for our recreational program and she began coaching her own team in 2015.

“Coaching is my happy place,” said Tucker. “I have been involved with this sport for 10 years and have learned so many life lessons along the way. These girls have made me so proud of their achievements. They will do great things and it is an honor to coach them.”

Ambrosia Lawson competitively cheered for ECN from 2000-2007 and she took recreational hip hop and tumbling. Ambrosia began as an assistant team coach in 2013-2015 and began competitively teaching her own teams in 2015. Ambrosia competed herself Nationally in Nashville Tennessee in 2004 where the ECN team place 7th out of 14 teams, currently she coaches senior level 2 ECN Courage and is one of our amazing team choreographers. Other team coaches that also assist in coaching team Reign, team Courage and our newest team the Firecrackers are director of programs Sonja Palmer, Tobias Jones, and Tre Jackson.

“Cheer drives me to want to be better every day,” said Kaitlyn King. “I love working on my tumbling skills and new stunts with my teammates. I feel we have so much inside of us to bring out when we perform, and 1st place is what we strive for.”

Anistyn Rhodes added, “I love to cheer because it pushes me to learn new skills, meet new people and it is fun.”