Kicking off a 10th season has made founding director, Michele Wuertz, feel nostalgic, humbled and proud of the positive role Premier Poms Experience has played in the lives of so many girls and young women.
“When I started this program with my former co-directors, Susan Barsness and Jennifer Blackburn, we knew we wanted to create a competitive dance program (Premier Poms) but we wanted it to be different which is what the (Experience) portion of our name signifies. We wanted to make a difference in the lives of each girl by boosting self-esteem and encouraging team members to be kind and caring…as we like to say growing girls strong. We also wanted to teach the importance of giving back to our communities through performances and volunteering. We call it C2 short for caring & competitive.”
Wuertz and current co-director, Kim Kempinski, asked former team members to reflect on what life lesson they took away from their experience with Premier and will compile a memory book to share with current and past members to honor the program’s 10th anniversary.
Brittany Albrecht - “ I will always look back on my Premier Poms experience with gratitude. The life lesson that I took away from my experience with Premier can best be described by the quote: "it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice". I think that the C2 sports model of being caring and competitive at the same time truly embodies this lesson. It ALWAYS feels good to achieve - to win first place, to be placed front and center, to become a captain, to reach a milestone. These accomplishments might make us feel like we are very important! However, with or without these titles or achievements, we must hold true to our values and be compassionate individuals. Whether you are a part of a poms team, a start-up business, a group project, or a health care team, your lasting impact will be made by being friendly, and by showing empathy and love. The best part is that you can do both - as is emphasized within the C2 model.” (Brittany just graduated from the University of Illinois will begin medical school in August and is competing this month for the title of Miss Illinois.)
Melissa Stathakis - “I joined Premier Poms Experience when I was going through tough times fitting in with friends at school. All the girls and coaches in Premier made me feel welcomed and I found a sense of family. Premier Poms taught me to accept everyone for who they are and have open arms for new friends. I still keep in touch with some of the girls that were on my team 10 years ago. I even was a bridesmaid this past year for a lifelong friend I met through Premier!” (Melissa just graduated from Indiana University and will be starting a full-time finance job in Chicago this September.)
Hannah Chernik - “ A life lesson I took with me from my experience with Premier is to be kind to one another. The kindness, compassion, and love that Premier Poms embodies was something I was so proud of when I was on that team. I take that lesson with me through all steps of my life and through everything I do. I remember all of the hearts touched through dance, service, and kindness, which shaped my childhood and dance experience.” (After four years on Premier Poms Hannah moved to Texas and continued dance through high school on her high school drill (dance) team in Southlake Texas. She was a Lieutenant and Captain of the Junior Varsity Emerald Belles team of 25 girls and then became a member of the Varsity Emerald Belles team of 100 girls which went on to be Texas State Champions. She is now a nursing major and just finished her freshman year of college. The dance continues to be a major part of her life and something she will always love.)
Courtney Quigley McGovern - “Premier Poms taught me that kindness and competition are not allergic to each other, trying new things can be really rewarding, and what a strong and loving community looks like! The founders and coaches of Premier Poms were always so intentional about the way the coaches loved and encouraged me and each of my teammates. As we worked hard during practice, we didn’t forget to remember that people and relationships are always more important than the sport or winning a competition. We worked together to redefine a competitive sports atmosphere where kindness was truly at the forefront of our sportsmanship.
Also, during the course of my time at Premier Poms, I also faced personal challenges. I can remember my entire team coming to visit me during tough times. Bringing with them love, encouragement, and delicious Edible Arrangements too! It’s during tough times when communities are challenged to put their team to the test and the Premier Poms community passed with flying colors! I am so grateful for the C2 experience! (This past January, Courtney graduated from New York University with a degree in Nonprofit Organization Management and a Minor in Spanish. Upon graduation, she landed her dream job as Executive Director of HOPE’S IN, a nonprofit she and her twin sister co-founded 6 years ago when they were just Juniors in high school, whose mission is to empower families living in Guatemala City and develop the next generation of humanitarian leaders! www.hopesin.org
She is married to her college sweetheart, Garrett, with whom she loves living in & exploring the city of Chicago.)
Premier Poms Experience is currently holding team formations. Girls in grades 3-5 are welcome to join the Purple Team, grades 6-8 the Platinum Team and grades 9-12 the Senior Team with practices twice a week late August through February. Girls in K-2 can take part in a Pixie Poms class 1 day a week starting in the Fall. To sign up please go to our website www.premierpoms.org or to contact Premier for more information please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org