A cheerleading, dance and fitness facility in Olive Hill won first place in a Florida Finals Cheerleading Competition in late April.

The team, consisting of girls in elementary and middle school, were taught at Empower Athletics on 144 Scott Street by Emaley Russell and Chris Pereyra.

“I was really excited and all of my teammates just like hugged me because I started crying,” said Hadlie Maggard, a 7-year-old at Empower Athletics. Maggard’s mother Sarah said everything she knows was learned in her two years at Empower thanks to Russell and Pereyra.

“They’re 100% focused on these children,” said Sarah Maggard.

Russell, a teacher at West Carter Middle School, began Empower Athletics four years ago after graduating high school.

“A lot of people have asked why not move to Morehead, why not move to Grayson or Ashland,” said Russell. “I don’t want (the kids) to think there’s nothing for them where they’re from.”

Russell and Pereyra are proud of their business staying in Olive Hill to show children that they can find things worth doing in a small town.

“I want people to know that we’re hard working and we never give up,” said Lindsey Layne, 9.

Russell said the goal while going to Florida was not about winning, but having the experience of competing as a team.

“I think this is only the beginning,” said Sarah Maggard. “I think they’re going places.”

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