You might not associate Cindy Villarreal with coaching cheerleading. She doesn’t currently have a cheerleading squad, but she has coached a high school team in the past. She was also a recreational cheerleader, a Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader, a Dallas Mavericks’ dancer and a member of the Houston Oilers’ Derrick Dolls. Her experience in the world of cheerleading isn’t just nationwide either, it extends worldwide with her consulting for the NFL and NBA and helping them revamp and establish teams like the Houston Power Dancers and the London Broncos cheerleaders. She has grown from a cheerleader into a coach, from a coach into a director and from a director into a marketing and promotional powerhouse for the sport. In all of her enterprises you will always find a touch of cheer; she is truly an ambassador for cheerleading.
Cindy’s high school coaching career began in 2004 when she took over the squad at Regents School of Austin, a private, Christian school. She explained it this way, “When I took over the program, I had four varsity cheerleaders that could not tumble or build. I signed the team up for an NCA competition and this was the real turning point for them. I knew if I could get them to a competition, they would be hooked and would want to be better. I didn’t want cute girls in skirts; I wanted a team who wanted more for themselves and that would strive for perfection. Thus, after re-building the squad, I left, we had a solid team of starting tumblers and I established a JV squad to accommodate the growing numbers of kids that had become interested in cheerleading.” This pretty well sums up Cindy’s philosophy. She has the uncanny knack of being able to stand back and analyze a situation. Then, once she’s figured out what is lacking and what is needed, she taps into her years of experience, surrounds herself with knowledgeable people and as we say in Texas, “She takes the bull by the horns.”
Cindy is the author of “The Cheerleaders Guide to Life,” an inspirational book for all levels of cheerleading and dance published by HarperCollins in 1994. Her book was selected by the New York Public Library in 1995 as one of the best books for teenagers. Cindy’s work is honored in the College Football Hall of Fame “as a tribute to her dedication and success as a role model for the youth of America,” stated by Bernie Kish, president. In her role as the Director of Entertainment for the NFL Europe’s London Monarchs Crown Jewels, Cindy received the single coaches’ honor of “Best Professional Cheerleading Team in Europe” for her accomplishments in taking her team from worst to first in a single year. Within three months upon her arrival to the U.K., Cindy was promoted to also work with NFL International as Director of the 1997 American Bowl game in Dublin, Ireland. She also played a key role as event media spokesperson.
In November 1990, Cindy was selected by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Persons in America” putting her in the company of the Secretary of Education of the United States, the Surgeon General and the Chairman of the Banking Committee. In 1990-91, during her reign as Miss Texas 1991, she participated in the National Pageant being selected as First Runner-up and Miss Congeniality. Cindy has received numerous awards from magazines and the community for her contributions in the cities of Austin, Houston, and London. A newcomer to the U.K. in 1996, Cindy was honored as VIP by the British-America Chamber of Commerce. The honor placed her at the head of the dignitary table along with the American Ambassador to England, the Chairman of British Airlines, the Chairman of the Bank of England, and Chairman of British Rail. Cindy was subsequently invited to the government house, Guild Hall and assisted the government with longrange planning to introduce “spirit” into parades and festivals—something not previously done.
In late 1997, Cindy formed Proformance, a sports marketing and entertainment agency. She has written business plans for U.S.-U.K. based sports franchises, represented professional athletes, as well as represented restaurants, musicians and charities in consideration of establishing innovative ways to reach the youth-family audience. Proformance has provided sports marketing and entertainment services to sports clubs including the NFL, NBA, British Soccer Team, Super League, Gladiators TV Programme, the Offshore Super Series, the International and National All-Star Foundation, as well as many individuals including, Hall of Famer Ted Ginn Sr., the Lord Mayor of London and London business mogul, Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Management.
The agency, now in the United States and under a new name, Proformance Sports Marketing and Entertainment, LLC, continues to serve brands, as well as properties. Under Cindy’s leadership, the company has been among the list of finalist for Stevie Business Awards including, “Best Community Service Programming” and “Best New Company of the Year 2007.”
You would think with all these accomplishments and accolades that Cindy would have sat back and enjoyed her success —but that’s not her style. Currently, she is working diligently on establishing the World Cheerleading Hall of Fame and a cable television network called Cheer Channel. Both endeavors are her way of giving back to the industry while at the same time promoting it in a positive fashion. Cindy explained, “I am working really hard to get cheerleading what it deserves.” And there is no doubt that she is doing exactly that.
It would be understandable at this point if you might be wondering why we choose Cindy Villarreal as our cover story. After all, we’ve written paragraph after paragraph about her accomplishments, but what advice have we given you as a coach or business owner? Well, if you take away only one thing from this article it should be the importance of marketing and promotion. That is exactly what Cindy does best and in it is a lesson for all of us. She hasn’t forgotten her roots, she has a vision and she works hard to realize it, then she markets and promotes her ideas while making sure that cheerleading is seen in a positive way. These same principles work regardless of whether you are a coach or a gym owner. And they are exactly what makes Cindy Villarreal an ambassador for cheerleading.