Former cheerleader shares lifestyle with KC community

Photo by Kristopher Dobbins / THE FLARE. Ashley Stanley is a former KC cheerleader who now works as a trainer with current cheerleaders.
Photo by Kristopher Dobbins / THE FLARE.
Ashley Stanley is a former KC cheerleader who now works as a trainer with current cheerleaders.

Growing up, Ashley Stanley was a competitive gymnast. She never participated in cheerleading until the age of 18, when she came to KC.

Stanley was a cheerleader at KC from 2000 to 2002.

“I always had an interest in cheerleading but was very shy, so I never pursued it,” Stanley said.

When she was in high school, she coached competitive gymnastics.

One of her fellow coaches had cheered at KC and convinced her to try out for the team.

“It was one of the best things I have ever done for myself because it forced me to come out of my shell and not be as shy, which has served me well professionally over the years,” Stanley said.

“One of my favorite things about cheering at KC was definitely our cheerleading sponsor, Latane Speer,” she said. “She is by far one of the most caring individuals I have ever met.”

Stanley said that Speer would do anything for her cheerleaders and often helped other students or athletes in need, even if they were not one of her cheerleaders.

Stanley and Speer remain dear friends to this day.

After graduating from KC, she transferred to Stephen F. Austin State University, where she cheered on the co-ed squad from 2002 to 2004. The co-ed squad won National Championships in 2003 and 2004.

“I remember standing with our team while we waited for our score to be announced, and then the moment that we realized we had achieved what we worked so hard for. We were once again National Champions,” Stanley said. “It made all of the blood, sweat and tears that it took to get there worth it. There aren’t words to describe how it felt.”

Stanley soon became involved in fitness competitions when she met her trainer, Kelly Hitchcock, owner of KH Fitness in Tyler, in 2006.

“I had always seen fitness competitions on television and I knew that one day I wanted to do one,” Stanley said.

The first competition she competed in was The Ronnie Coleman Classic in 2006.

She won the competition, although it had only been 10 months after having her son.

“The hardest part of competing for me is the mental aspect of it,” Stanley said. “It is much harder mentally than it is physically.”

Stanley said that the diet for the competition prep pushes a person’s willpower to the absolute limit.

Nevertheless, she plans on competing more in the future.

Stanley now gives back to the campus by teaching the KC cheerleaders about weight training and physical fitness.

Stanley was hired in 2012 by the current cheer sponsor, Melissa Haden.

The cheerleaders are required to take Stanley’s weight training class, but the class is open to all KC students.

In the class, she likes to teach the cheerleaders about learning to exercise and eating healthy as a lifestyle, not specifically for a sport.

“I want to make sure that when they are done cheering that they know how to exercise and eat healthy for the rest of their lives,” Stanley said.

Stanley also mentioned that as the sport of cheerleading progresses, it is very important for the athletes to be in the best shape they can be. Stanley also serves as a personal trainer at KC. She specializes in custom exercise programs, nutrition advice and contest prep.

Stanley’s experience in cheerleading and physical fitness makes her qualified to serve the students of KC as a teacher and a personal trainer to the cheerleaders.

For more information contact her at 903-812-3699 or