A Time of Good Cheer

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: Stephanie Britt is adorable. A petite powerhouse with great hair, a figure to die for and a fierce sense of style—not to mention a South Georgia accent that is almost too charming for words—Britt is also, in a word, defiant. Physically, the 36 year-old mother of three defies her age. Professionally, she defied the odds by building Cheer Savannah, a cheerleading empire in a community that didn’t know what competitive cheer was 14 years ago. Stephanie Britt is more than just another pretty face.

“I think you’re born with some innate personality traits,” she says. “My mom has this picture of me when I was four with my pom-poms—I was the mascot for the varsity team. I love supporting.” Britt grew up in South Georgia, an upbringing she describes as “very rural, very modest. Some could say ‘poor,’ and I’d be fine with that.” There wasn’t much to do in her town growing up except cheer. “I was passionate about it and studied it,” she remembers. “In math, everybody else is doodling, I’m drawing formations on my grid. I was a captain, All-American. I was successful at it. I think anything you’re successful at, you like.”

Britt was so skilled as a cheerleader that she used her “God-given gift” to help put her through college. She landed a job coaching middle school cheerleaders in Statesboro while she attended Georgia Southern University. Her work with the middle school led to a gig coaching gymnastics at the GSU gymnastics center. “Then the Georgia Southern cheerleaders wanted me to make up their dances. So I did their choreography.” She points out that she never imagined cheerleading as a career. “I thought I was going to go on to college and be a businesswoman of some sort.” After college, Britt got married, and she and her husband, Danny, moved to Savannah for his job as a football coach at Calvary Day School. When the camp that was hired to coach Calvary’s cheerleaders that year backed out, a nine-months pregnant Britt stepped up to the plate. “That’s how it started. I started working with the Calvary cheerleaders and we got really good. I went to the school and I said, ‘I want to take them to compete.’” The school said no. Britt was undeterred. “We couldn’t do it through the school, so I put an ad in the Savannah Morning News,” she says. “‘Anybody interested in competitive cheerleading, show up at a meeting.’ And so 24 girls and their mamas showed up. I let all 24 make it, and that was how Cheer Savannah started.”

 Story by Kristen Smith

Photography by Danny Griffin