Strong to the Finnish

Odle in interview with Feed Cheer Video

Feed Cheer Video

Odle in interview with Feed Cheer Video

When cheerleading comes to mind, most people picture girls yelling chants at a football game, encouraging their team; the other side of the sport is unknown to many people. The competitive side of cheerleading involves tumbling and stunts, often without any cheers. No one knows this side of the sport better than pupils of Chad Odle, cheerleading coach of Collierville Middle School, Collierville High School, and Memphis Elite All-Stars.

“The conditioning, the training [and] sometimes [the] stuff I say to them makes them cry,” said Chad Odle.

Odle has been with Collierville High School for two years and with Collierville Middle School for three years. He is Head Board Director and an All-Star director at the Memphis Elite cheer and dance company. In addition, he coached Collierville Middle School to tumbling division National Champions in 2014 and to world champions in 2013 non-tumbling. Odle coached Memphis Elite to multiple championships and led the University of Memphis to a Division-1A College National Championship in 2013.

Odle’s impressive cheer coaching resume hasn’t gone unnoticed – Finland’s representatives at the International Cheer Union World Cheerleading Championships have expressed interest in signing him as the coach of their national cheer team.

“I had an opportunity a couple years ago to go there for ten days. They’ve called me back a couple of other times too to come in, but the schedule hasn’t quite worked out,” Odle said.

Cheerleading is not currently in the Olympic Games, but it most likely will be soon. For this reason, countries are attempting to recruit American cheer coaches.

“There’s a good chance cheerleading’s going to be in the Olympics… you’ll probably see a lot of Americans going over there and coaching these teams, all over Europe…  [cheerleading] probably won’t be in the next Olympics, but I think they’re shooting for the one in London,” Odle said.

Cheerleading, however, is not the sport that Odle originally had a passion for. High school football was the genesis of his athletic career.

“I don’t think anything was greater than my high school football experience,” remarked Odle.

Odle started his college football career at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana. After suffering a back injury, he was unable to continue playing. He transferred to Ball State and a friend enticed Odle to try the cheerleading team.

“I tried it just thinking it was a joke,” Odle said. “I didn’t think anything was really going to happen when I started practicing with them.”

Unbeknownst to Odle, he would be a 4-year member of the co-ed cheer team at Ball State. During his time at Ball State, he coached football at Mississinewa High School for two years.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree at Ball State and realizing he had an opportunity with cheerleading, Odle tried out for the cheer team at Delta State. Once he successfully made the cut, Delta State paid for his Master’s degree.

After obtaining his master’s degree at Delta State, Odle moved to Memphis to coach cheer at Southaven Middle School and to teach World Geography at White Station. Soon after moving, Odle landed coaching jobs at Collierville High School, Collierville Middle School, the University of Memphis, St. Benedict and Memphis Elite. Although he no longer coaches for Southaven, St. Benedict or University of Memphis, he continues to coach for Collierville Middle School, Collierville High School and Memphis Elite.  

Odle’s wide range of experience gives him an insight few have.

“I’ve been around some girls who are some of the toughest people I’ve ever been around in my life, they’re as tough as any football player,” Odle said.

In addition to cheerleaders’ work ethic, Odle also firmly believes in their determination.

“99% of those cheerleaders want to be there 110% of the time and they really are killing themselves to get better, where, you know, [for] most of my students school is a necessary evil,” Odle said.

Now, Odle is faced with the opportunity that he might coach Finland’s Olympic cheer team.

“I would definitely consider that job; it’d be an unbelievable opportunity… That’s like one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, so yeah, I’d have to do it,” Odle said.

Coaching cheer in multiple states, coaching football, playing football, cheering, teaching – Odle’s history is unique. What does his future entail?

Hopefully Finland.