JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Members of the Senior Platinum team at Glitz All-Star Cheer Inc. in Janesville have had a lot to cheer about recently.
The 13-member team took first place in the Small Gym, Small Senior Division during the International All Star Cheerleading Championship, held in March in Orlando, Fla. Senior Platinum competed against nine other teams in the division.
“The whole thing was sort of surreal, just being able to accomplish what we were working towards,” said team member Jordyn Nicoson. Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-JanesvilleMessengerSunday
The members of Senior Platinum started working on their routine in July and qualified for the international competition at a regional event in December.
Team member Alysa Rothfelder said she felt that the team had a good chance of winning the competition.
“It’s the largest competition I’ve ever been in,” Rothfelder said. “I was nervous, but when we performed I was really confident with our routine and with how we performed.”
The teams were judged on stunts, tumbling, execution, dance, jumping and execution of the routine. Ashley Sheppard, co-owner of Glitz All-Star Cheer, said the team strived to perform with zero deductions.
“If you have zero deductions your chances of winning are better, so that’s what we stressed to our kids,” Sheppard said. “We give them ice cream parties if they have zero deductions. The important part is if they did their best and if we did have deductions, which includes falls or touch downs, then we know where to work and what to practice next time.”
In the months leading up to international competition, the group practiced two hours twice a week at the CSA Kids building on Whitney Street in Janesville.
The hours of practice paid off, Nicoson said.
“With all the hard work and money that we put into it, everything you earn in the end makes it all seem worth it,” she said.
The 2014 championship finish was a huge turnaround for the Glitz All-Star Cheer team. Back in 2013, the team’s debut in the international competition, the girls came in last place out of 11 teams.
The disappointing 2013 finish offered a learning experience for the team and gave them inspiration to improve, Sheppard said.
“A lot of coaches coach their whole life and they don’t get to win such an honor,” Sheppard said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing that we would like to repeat, but I would count my blessings if we just won this competition.
“My co-owner and I have been coaching 10 years together, and we’re just so blessed to have a whole group of kids who put their trust in us, and we were able to accomplish this together.”
Besides attending competitions, Glitz cheer members also participate in parades and host their own competition in November. Several of the members are involved with other activities, as well.
Team member Cassie Hanly participates in gymnastics, tennis and tae kwon do in addition to cheerleading. She said she enjoys being involved with different activities.
Rothfelder said she also has been involved with dance and gymnastics. She became interested in cheerleading after watching a competition on television.
Being involved with Glitz All-Star Cheer has helped her improve her cheerleading and tumbling skills, Rothfelder said.
“Tumbling is not my strong point,” she said. “Getting from where I started to where I am now, the coaches push our limits to get the skills needed for the team.”
Nicoson also has been a member of the cheerleading teams at Parker and Milton high schools.
“I think cheerleading, itself, is a big learning experience, learning how to work together and being able to take what you learned from working together and applying that to the rest of your life and other activities,” Nicoson said.
Sheppard said she works with her students’ schedules, so they can be involved with other activities.
“The nice thing about our program is we can accommodate anyone who wants to do another program,” Sheppard said. “We take all experience levels and train them to do what it takes for them to be out on the floor.”
Sheppard started Glitz All-Star Cheer about six years ago with Pam Valenti. Besides the Senior Platinum team, Glitz All-Star also includes a Glimmer, Glitter and Glamour team. Sheppard said the program includes 34 students from throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
“I went to college in Whitewater and started coaching at a local high school, and we knew another coach in the area, and we took over her spot,” Sheppard said. “We teamed up with her a little bit, and then did our own thing. There’s a lot of talent in this area, and we knew we could bring in the right formula and have a successful school.”
Glitz All-Star Cheer is in the process of starting its new season. In May, the program will move to a permanent location at 555 S. Pearl St. in Janesville. Sheppard said the new location will allow her to conduct programs throughout the year.
“It will be a big step for our company,” she said.
Cheerleading has changed a lot as a sport since Sheppard started coaching 10 years ago, she said.
“It’s no longer a sport where you just stand on the sidelines and cheer people on. It’s a full athletic sport,” Sheppard said. “It combines a lot of different athletics like dance, gymnastics and acrobatics. It takes a lot more athleticism than it used to.
“It’s more hard work and more sweat at practice. They go home and have to regain their strength and replenish themselves. There’s definitely a lot more trust involved.”
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Rock Soccer Club board members are excited about the coming weekend and the future of the organization as they prepare for the second annual Clash in the Grass tournament.
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Twenty-four boys and girls teams -- a dip from 27 last year -- had registered as of press time for the competitions, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and April 27, at the Youth Sports Complex in Janesville.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Dennis James enjoys spending time outdoors and he helps others enjoy local scenery along the way.
James, of Janesville, is the coordinator of the Rock County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, which helps maintain areas of the Ice Age Trail in Janesville and Rock County. Group members clean up the trails, remove dead trees, help to obtain easements and more.
Besides being willing to get their hands dirty, volunteers like James and dozens of others are vital when it comes to improvement projects, equipment upgrades and grass-roots promotion of local parks and trails. Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-JanesvilleMessengerSunday
The alliance works with the county and the city of Janesville on projects related to the Ice Age Trail. Some portions of the trail are maintained by the city of Janesville.
“We have done some projects that the county has not been able to afford. We also have shared cost with the county and the city on certain projects,” James said. “It’s a mutual interest we have with the city and the county.”
Rock County Parks Director Lori Williams said volunteers are a vital resource in helping the county maintain park areas.
“We couldn’t do what we do without them,” Williams said. “They help make the parks better. Because we have budget constraints and limited staff, they help us accomplish our goals.
“They all contribute greatly to the park system.”
Part of the mission for James and the other 80-some volunteers in the local chapter is to expand the number of people who take advantage of the parks and trails.
“We know there’s people that come specifically to hike,” James said. “(But) some of the parks along the Ice Age Trail, there’s a lot of people locally who don’t know anything about it.
“I think a lot of local people don’t necessarily know what it is. They just think it’s a series of short trails that connect.”
After countless hours along the trails, James can recommend some of his favorite scenic spots to new trail users.
“The east side area of Janesville, along the bike trail, is through a residential area, but it’s very secluded, so you’re going to see a lot of birds and animals,” James said. “Storrs Lake is a really nice area. There’s a lot of wildlife.
“The Devil’s Staircase, through the golf course and Arbor Ridge, you’re going to see a lot of wildlife along the Rock River. Probably one of the prettiest parks of the Ice Age Trail is along the Rock River that leads up to the Devil’s Staircase. There’s a lot of wildflowers.”
In addition, there are other areas in the county that will be developed to become part of the Ice Age Trail in the future.
“As those areas will be developed, there will be more prairie areas,” he said. “There’s some kettles in the Storrs Lake area that a trail could go past.”
For now, James and fellow volunteers will keep working on and enjoying the parks and trails in our backyard. The Rock County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance meets the fourth Thursday of the month at the Rock County Job Center in Janesville (see graphic at right).
“We are looking for more members, and we’re looking for more people to use the trails,” James said.
To the southeast of Janesville, Carver-Roehl County Park volunteers are gearing up to host an Easter egg hunt at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 13. More than 300 children are expected to attend.
“The Easter Bunny will be there, and we will have treat bags,” said Nancy Pope, president of Friends of Carver-Roehl Park. “I encourage people to arrive early.”
Pope and some 100 fellow friends members have raised money to purchase equipment for the park, including a gazebo, pavilion, playground equipment and benches.
The park, at 4907 Carver’s Rock Road, is a popular destination because of its hiking trails, playground area and picnic areas.
“There’s lots of picnics going on,” Pope said. “There’s a wedding planned there in May. People have family reunions there.
“People also are always interested in using the shelter.”
To the east, visitors and volunteers alike are drawn to Big Foot Beach State Park for its hiking trails, fishing areas, varied habitats, campsites, beach on Geneva Lake and more, said Shane Jones, president of the Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park.
Friends members help plant trees, remove litter, cut back invasive species and restore natural areas in the 271-acre park in Lake Geneva.
The friends group also raises money to purchase equipment for the park. The group recently received a $9,000 matching grant from the state to install nature signs, restore natural habitat areas and clear invasive species areas. In addition, the group recently received approval from the state to construct an observation tower in the park.
“We’re looking to do some fundraising so we’re able to build it,” Jones said.
BFBSP park ranger Matthew Daniels called the volunteers “a lifesaver” for the park.
“They’re there when projects need to be done. They purchase equipment that the park’s budget can’t handle,” Daniels said. “They help us repair equipment like ATVs. Right now, they’re helping us with prairie restoration. Last year, they purchased six new grills for the picnic areas.
“They help us out so much.”
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Before Alicia Reid turned a local frame shop into a thriving gallery, the local arts community had few options to display its work.
Now a thriving hub for the arts in Janesville, Raven’s Wish Art Gallery wasn’t always as it is today. Reid fondly remembers humbler times, when the gallery got its start with only five artists.
Before it became Raven’s Wish, the gallery was Myers Frame & Stitch, and Reid worked there for 10 years before she purchased the business when the Myers retired.
JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Richard Snyder remembers playing around the Oakhill Cemetery Chapel when he was a kid, living just three blocks away from the Janesville cemetery.
"I would sled down the hills (by the chapel), so it’s childhood memories, and I would camp out in the woods," Snyder said. "We were always out there, riding our bikes up around the hills and things like that."
MESSENGER -- In 1988, Dr. Robert Yahr, a retired orthodontist, had a vision of creating a botanical garden where residents and tourists could enjoy a variety of colorful plants.
That vision began about a year later as the Rotary Botanical Gardens was established on 20 acres of land on Palmer Drive. This year, garden officials are inviting the community to celebrate the gardens’ 25th anniversary.
JANESVILLE -- Three Janesville Craig High School graduates were added to the Craig Honor Wall during a ceremony March 21 at the school.
MESSENGER -- At the young age of 9, Mollie Myers of Janesville already has gone the extra mile to help others.
Myers will receive the Young Woman of Distinction Award during the YWCA Rock County’s Women of Distinction Award ceremony and dinner on Friday, April 4, at the Pontiac Convention Center. The award ceremony recognizes area women for the contributions they have made to the community.
WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Over 2.53 million fans, or more than 31,000 per game, attended Brewers games at Miller Park last year despite the team’s lowest divisional finish since 2006.
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A rash of injuries and a terrible start derailed any realistic shot at the postseason by June, and Ryan Braun’s 65-game suspension to end the year was the proverbial nail in the team’s coffin.
Business profile: Oak Village Garden Center
Owner: Tim Neuberger, Retail manager: Patty Bailey
Address: 4727 N. Wisconsin Highway 26, Janesville
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but we will be open seven days a week beginning in April.