VOLGA – Casie King, Sioux Valley’s competitive cheer head coach, was named the 2016-2017 Coach of the Year by the South Dakota Cheer Coaches Association.
King has been the competitive cheer head coach at Sioux Valley since before it’s inauguration as a sport in South Dakota in 2006.
In the 10 years that competitive cheer has been recognized as a sanctioned sport by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, Sioux Valley has won the Class A division every year under the direction of King.
As a growing sport in the state, there are now 35 schools competing in Competitive Cheer or Dance.
Competitive teams have three months to perfect a routine that hit areas of a scoresheet that includes tumbling, stunting and jumps with high athleticism, precision and synchronization.
In a sport similar to a combination of acrobatics and gymnastics, these athletes compete with other schools in regular-season tournaments leading up to the state tournament, constantly working to improve their scores and add difficulty.
“My focus has always been to teach life lessons first and cheerleading second,” said King. “Having high expectations for every athlete helps me create a sense of commitment and respect, not only to their team, but most importantly to themselves.
“The truth is, when a team is good, they make what they do look easy and sometimes people forget that it’s not. Try lifting your friend over your head while she stands on one foot and then if you get that – add a spin and a flip; also smile while doing it.
“I coach some of the toughest, strongest and most committed athletes there are in high school today.”
King cheered for Faulkton High School where she was a part of many championship teams through the South Dakota Cheer Coaches Association, before it was sanctioned by the SDHSAA.
King attended college at SDSU while volunteering as the dance coach at Sioux Valley.
“It was an awesome way to get my foot in the door and become involved at SVHS,” she said. “I was very excited to take over the cheer program in 2004, and have loved every minute of it since.
“Over the last 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing athletes and have been so fortunate to be a part of their lives. I have had five wonderful assistant coaches in that time – Melissa Adee, Kristen Intermill, Emily Howell, Chrystal Wozniak and currently Jordyn Ringheimer.”
King credits her upbringing as a foundation to her success.
“I was raised to never do anything half way, not only by my family, but also by mu coaches growing up,” King said. “My high school coach, Cindy Kopecky, always treated cheerleading as a sport, even before it was adopted by the SDHSAA.
“She ran a practice the same as any other sport, with the attention to a well-rounded athlete, and I like to think I do the same.”
King also strongly believes in educating herself in new motivational techniques and exercises to keep the body strong and instilling healthy habits. She believes that should always be a coach's first priority.
“The first few years of coaching, I spent a lot more time on skill development and learning stunting and tumbling methods than I did on learning actual coaching techniques,” said King. “Now, I read everything I can get my hands on from Proactive Coaching and attend as many coaching philosophy seminars as I do skill development.
“Every athlete is different and therefore every approach to that athlete should be, in some way, different to be able to motivate and inspire them. I hope to use cheerleading as a vehicle to create confidence and success in every athlete for life, not just for 2 1/2 minutes or a season.”
“Not being from Volga originally, coaching at the school has been a great way to meet the community. I am so fortunate to be able to walk into the grocery store and see former athletes with their children and catch up on where life has taken them. I have been blessed to make connections with so many families who I never would have had the opportunity to otherwise.”
King lives in Volga with her husband Scott, and their three daughters – Kalista, Kiana, and Kalia.
Scott owns King Insurance Agency in Brookings, as well as being Sioux Valley’s head wrestling coach.
The couple opened KcK Wildfire Children’s Activity Center in Brookings in 2009 where they teach both tumbling and ninja classes; host camps, kid’s night out and birthday parties; have field trips; and of course, cheerleading.