TRINITY — As an aspiring male cheerleading coach, Christopher Hethcox seemingly had the odds stacked against him early in life.
“The stigma of being a male cheerleader was something that was rough in the rural parts of Alabama,” Hethcox said.
But Hethcox didn’t let it bring him down. At age 13, Hethcox knew he had a passion for tumbling and gymnastics.
Twenty-two years later, Hethcox has turned that passion into a career as an instructor with All-Star Cheerleading at the Suncoast Gymnastics Academy in Odessa.
Though the profession does not necessarily have a large salary, Hethcox said he isn’t in it for the money — he just wants to help his athletes grow.
“I think I love the process of the training, performing, watching the development over the year of an athlete that’s had this place where they started,” Hethcox said. “And then, where they end up.”
Hethcox coaches multiple levels of cheerleading with All-Star Cheerleading and has won multiple championships.
Competing at that level, Hethcox said, is something that can give competitors butterflies. But for him, it’s all about keeping his team calm.
Mark Sczcepanik, whose daughter is coached by Hethcox, described him as passionate and driven.
“Coach Chris has done an incredible job with our daughter,” Sczcepanik said. “She went from never cheering ever six months ago to just doing an incredible job, thanks to his fine coaching.”
Hethcox doesn’t need praise, though. He just wants it to be about the kids.
“I want them to become sisters that they would do anything for each other,” Hethcox said.