The coach of the year award was presented to her last weekend during the Cheer Expo Nationals 2015 event in Halifax. Gonzales coaches the Truro Allstar Cheer and Tumble group.
“I didn’t even know I was a nominee. I was shocked,” said Gonzales, 42, of Truro Heights.
Seven people were shortlisted as nominees and during the end of the weekend the nominees were brought to the floor. Once it became obvious, by description, that Gonzales was the national winner, it became emotional.
“I was crying and people around me were crying,” Gonzales told the Truro Daily News.
“It’s always nice to hear nice things about you … it means a lot. It’s great to be recognized for the work you do (especially) on a larger scale,” she said, adding it was wonderful to learn some of the nomination comments came from former students.
Gonzales had taken four teams from the Truro Allstar Cheer and Tumble group to the Cheer Expo Nationals - senior 3 (earned first place), senior 2 (second place), junior 2 (seventh place), and senior 2.0 (third place). There were more than 140 teams representing Canada.
It’s easy to see the coach’s passion for the sport and the youngsters under her leadership. Gonzales has been coaching since 1989 and started running the local allstar group in 1992.
“Allstar started as non-profit … and started with 13 kids,” she said, adding there are now 80 children in competitive cheerleading and another 25 kids in the non-competitive group.
As the program grows, Gonzales continues to take great pride in the participants.
“I like watching the kids … they are more athletic now and more involved … and they love the sport,” which, Gonzales stresses, is more evolved than many might think.
“It’s gymnastics, acrobatics, tumble, jumps, stunting, dance … cheerleading is so much more than what it was in the 70s or 80s (when it was just) cheering for teams,” she said.
And through the years, both the children and Gonzales have learned many important things.
“They learn about team sports, responsibility and committing to it,” she said, and “they just surprise me. I love it and the girls look at me as a mom figure too. I learn stuff from the kids all the time. I’ve learned to keep pushing through, determination, and to work hard.”
What: Truro Allstar Cheer and Tumble group
Ages: Non-competitive: four to eight; competitive, seven to 17
Location: Former John’s Bingo Hall on Prince Street in Truro
Goal: To increase the number of participants, both male and female
Registration for a new June to June season - May 18 (log onto the website)
Note: Summer day camps are also available
Cost: Varies, can be obtained, as well as other details, on the website