If you’re familiar with the saying, “If you need help, try the busiest person in the room,” you might know Chelsea Korsh. Korsh is mother of two sets of twins (pre-teen and teen), and the proud recipient of a 2015 Connecting with Kids Award for her work with Edina Youth Cheer (EYC). EYC is a youth cheer program for girls entering fifth and sixth grades, coached by senior varsity members of the Edina High School (EHS) competitive cheer team.
The idea came to Korsh five years ago and evolved, she says, with three main goals: to grow interest in Edina’s football program, to provide cheer team experience for older elementary school girls, and to create leadership opportunities for high school cheer team members. With seed money and support from the Edina Football Association (EFA), 2011 became EYC’s first season.
Korsh’s pragmatism and efficiency shine through every facet of EYC. “I try to keep it simple,” she says, “and accessible to a lot of girls.” The season is short, mid-August through October, so children have a chance to try cheer team and still participate in other sports and activities. Three or four cheer clinics run by Edina High School senior cheer team members occur on a regular schedule that is established well in advance. Fees and uniform costs are reasonable, and scholarships are available. “And there are no try-outs,” says Korsh. An average of 30 to 40 girls participate each year.
EYC members cheer weekly at Saturday-morning youth football games, in the Edina homecoming parade and with varsity cheerleaders at one varsity event. They also take part in a cheer competition. Kira Hoedeman, now 12, participated in the program two years in a row. She says, “My two favorite parts of the program were getting to perform at the varsity football game and walking in the homecoming parade.” Maddie Dahlien, a fifth-grader at Countryside Elementary School, also enjoyed the homecoming parade and “loved showing school spirit.” She thinks she might like to cheer in high school.
Beth Dahlien, Maddie’s stepmom and first-grade teacher to all four of the Korsh children, was so impressed with EYC and Korsh that she nominated them for this year’s Connecting With Kids Award. “I watched Chelsea develop this program from the ground up,” Dahlien says. “Chelsea runs the program with integrity and thoroughness. She’s poured her heart and soul, and an extraordinary amount of time, into EYC.”
Jasmine Hoedeman volunteered as a “squad mom” for her daughter Kira’s cheer squad. She says, “Because EYC is so well-run, it was one of the easiest and most fun volunteer assignments I’ve ever had.”
Student-coaches can count EYC volunteer work towards mandatory service hours. Korsh has written letters of recommendation for many. Two former EHS cheer coaches, Pam Sonnek and Danila Kerin, began working again with Korsh as college students at the end of EYC’s 2014 season. Korsh is helping and advising them in what she hopes will be a gradual transition to their leadership of EYC. “Coaching gives [volunteer cheerleaders] responsibility and experience in leadership,” Korsh says.
For the Connecting With Kids Award, Korsh was honored along with five other community youth leaders at a breakfast at Edina Country Club. Celebrating with her were her husband, children, and a “whole table of EFA members.” Korsh is on the board of EFA, and is effusive about their ongoing support of EYC.
Registration for fall 2016 begins will begin in May 2016.