Cheer squad adds faith to workouts

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Todd Mishler | September 3, 2013

WILLIAMS BAY — “We don't just build routines, pyramids and stunts … we will measure our success, not by the number of trophies, but rather by what each child can take with them through their life's journey.”

It isn't a commandment posted on the wall for students to learn or obey. However, it is part of the Bayside Cheer organization's physical and spiritual mission outlined on its website.

And it's something that owner Jessica Viss brings with her during every class she teaches.

Viss has directed the Williams Bay High School cheerleading and stunt teams the past three years and recently started the faith-based program.

“Society pulls these kids apart, saying they need to have straight or curly hair, they have to be thin or skinny, this and that,” Viss said. “I wanted to use the sport of competitive cheering to make kids comfortable in who they are and use it as an outlet to give them the Gospel. They need to know that it's OK not to be perfect.”

Viss grew up in Lake Geneva, moved to California in fourth or fifth grade and spent 13 years on the West Coast before going to Colorado for nine years. She knows of what she speaks and wants to help youth avoid, or at least be better equipped to deal with, some of the pitfalls along their personal journeys.

“My parents were Catholic and then Episcopalian … but I really struggled with a lot of things during high school,” Viss said. “I didn't accept the Lord until I was 19, and he's been working within me since then, and I try to promote these core strengths in lifting these girls.

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