Kelli Matthes has made a name for herself as head coach of the successful Richmond competitive cheer program. Since she took the helm in 2008, the Blue Devils have claimed six state championships and finished as runner-up in five more.
And now, her name will be forever remembered in the Competitive Cheer Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame as Matthes was officially inducted on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“It’s like the culmination of a career, and I don’t say that like I’m getting ready to walk out the door, it’s just that you coach for the kids and everything you do is for the program,” Matthes said, “and to be recognized by your peers at this level is something I could’ve only dreamed of in my first years of coaching.”
Matthes is in her 33rd year of coaching after having started at Webberville before moving to Lake Orion, L’Anse Creuse North, and finally settling in Richmond.
And it’s in Richmond where she said she’s built a community unlike any other.
“It truly is a family. That was something I’ve always set out to build at any school I was at, but what’s been built at Richmond is something that other people can only hope to be a part of and I’m just fortunate that it’s mine,” Matthes said. “It’s my program and with what we’ve done, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Her induction into the CCCAM Hall of Fame comes on the heels of having won four consecutive Division 3 state titles, and for two of last year’s seniors – Makenna Parker and Sarah Mikolasik – the fourth one was the highlight.
“[My favorite memories] would be hearing her say how proud she was of me after states my freshman year, and again in senior year because it was the most important year with it being my last,” Parker said. “Being able to put out what I was able to do for her in my last season was really good.”
“The program means so much to me. Coach Kelli has done so much for me and everyone on the team,” Mikolasik said. “Even the girls that have already graduated from years back, she cares so much about her athletes. She cares about her family and her family knows that sometimes she has to go back and spend more time with us and she knows the sacrifices it takes and she still makes them.”
And it’s because of her sacrifices that Matthes has been able to teach young female athletes to make their own.
“She’s probably the best coach I’ve ever had,” Parker said. “[Cheerleading] makes you have to have a lot of commitment to something and to be successful in the sport, you need to stay committed and motivated. I think that helps me in life now because you can’t slack off and be lazy and expect good results from that.”
“I think it’s helped me to know that I can do anything I put my mind to,” Mikolasik said. “Going into high school, I never believed I’d be a four-time state champion, and here I am now and that’s all thanks to Coach Kelli and her assistant coaches.”
Matthes said she enjoys coaching cheerleading because it lends itself to teaching goal setting in a different way than most sports as the “ultimate team sport." Each season she has her athletes make individual goals that will help the team toward its overall goal: maintaining Richmond’s presence among the top in the state.
“It’s not about the individual. It’s about the team first and foremost and working together and doing everything that needs to be done from the mental, emotional, and physical aspects,” Matthes said. “We have to work as one heartbeat all the time.”
And if she could sum up Richmond cheer in one sentence, it’d be just that, “One heartbeat forever.”
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