Cheerleaders in tears, parents ‘devastated’ after Middleton gym announces closure
MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Middleton business owner is choosing to shut down her gym, unable to weather the effects of the pandemic.
“Having the opportunity to coach these athletes over the last six years has been the greatest joy of my life,” Holley Foster, the owner of 360 Athletics, said.
In a year, Foster has lost more than 75 percent of her athletes. Last week, she explained to those who remained that her monthly financial losses were beyond repair. “Just going from ‘How can we save this?’ to finally just accepting that unfortunately it just isn’t in the cards,” she said.
Foster tried to keep her gym afloat, at first with virtual options including competitions. When she reopened her doors under local health guidelines, Foster enforced mask wearing and social distancing. She also took out spotting and stunting from routines. “No partner work whatsoever,” she added. “And we’re still under those restrictions.”
Choosing not to renew her lease, Foster will put up the shutters at the end of March. Athletes met up for one of their last get-togethers on Wednesday.
“I have four moms and 20 sisters here,” Brooke Benzine, who has cheered here for 5 years, said. “I grew up here. I came here when I was 11, and its just family.”
Jordyn Currier-Sheer added, “This is the place I always come when I feel down or when anything’s happening. The coaches and other athletes mean so much to me. I’m so thankful for the experience I’ve gotten to have here.”
Parents, too, said they were “devastated.” Jennifer Fitzrandolph said, “That sounds dramatic, but it’s devastating for these girls and these families.”
Christine Lucas, whose daughter had trained for 2 years, said, “It made her a better student this year. It gave her something to look forward to, so it was never an option to leave.”
Now, the only option is to leave.
“We did everything we could, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough,” Foster said.
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