Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Erika Gullick
Profession: Owner/CEO of The Cheer Institute
Neighborhood: Grew up in the Linden area, currently live in Polaris
Education: Bachelors of Art in English Pre Education, The Ohio State University, Masters of Art in Teaching, North Carolina State University
Community Involvement: Legacies United Foundation, President, Member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc.
Quote: “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me” – Senator Ben Espy
Give us a snapshot of your path: Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. First and foremost, I am a proud mom of 4 beautiful children, have a loving husband, and a fur baby, Brutus. I started cheer at just three years old. My cheer journey spans every level, from little league to competitive all star, collegiate and professional. After cheering at The Ohio State University for four years as an undergraduate, I went on to join the coaching staff at North Carolina State as the first non-alumni assistant coach and eventually went on to cheer professionally for the Columbus Destroyers before opening The Cheer Institute in December of 2015.
During my years as an elementary teacher I gained knowledge on how to serve students from all backgrounds and at all learning levels! I took that experience and began expanding my teachings beyond the classroom and into extra curricular activities. I learned from teaching, that the sport could not just be about the training, but the entire athlete as a whole. I truly enjoy serving families across many communities in need, and believes laying a strong foundation is imperative to the continued growth of all athletes.
In just a few short years since its founding, I worked to build The Cheer Institute from a small group of seven students to over one hundred and fifty competitive and recreational athletes and six competition teams. My wide range of experience, wealth of knowledge in the industry, and experienced staff makes my gym to have a great impact on the athletes and families we serve. I work to continually promote being a family centered environment, and structure my efforts around this belief!
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
First I believe in something greater than me, and know HE is what allows me to wake every morning and walk in my purpose. I find myself always thinking of another way I can enhance, grow, and better serve. Starting my day off early gives me the most out of the day, and allows me great time to create and serve. What keeps me going through the week? the random post, emails, and text messages from families confirming that my efforts in some way has positively made an impact on their lives. The smiles from my tiny athletes when they get a new skills. The one “yes” I finally receive after so many “no’s”. Also, my passion to continue to do what I’ve been placed here to do keeps my grounded, motivated, and ready to be a leader, friend, coach, sister, and whatever else in needed in the community. Knowing that I have a true family in my community keeps me going daily, and that’s all that I could ask for! My village is strong!
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
I’ve had the chance to be coached by many people, but I can say my Allstar Coach Crystal Shuler made a huge impact in my life and who I am as a person to this day. She helped shape me as an athlete instilling great work ethic, the value of time, and setting short and long term goals and going after them. I also have been majorly influenced by my parents. My dad showing me the beauty of giving of myself and talent without wanting anything in return but the joy and knowing you made an impact. I saw this through his daily commitment to our family, working to ensure his family had want was needed. Then we have my biggest cheerleader, my mother. She taught me to always “get it done”. She helped me realize the sky is truly the limit, and that even when the crowd may be small, the impact can still be out of this world. My husband also continues to help me realize I should always think beyond just right now. One great piece of advice I have taken from him is when things may not turn out exactly the way you plan, think of small was to make a great and withstanding impact.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I love spending time with my family on Fridays for a family movie night! We set out this time every Friday to relax and unwind from the work/school week. It really allows time me to enjoy my 4 little ones, along with our dog Brutus, and my husband. I also enjoy walks with my family, whether downtown, at a festival, in the park, or in the neighborhood its a time to talk, catch up, celebrate big and small wins with the people I love most!
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
I love Bru Burger in Westerville, I really enjoy their Gorgonberry Salad! I can say I love a good thrift shop, so local consignment shops such as Once Upon a Child and One More Time will always be an outing during any month. I also to enjoy the outdoors with my families, so trips to the Scioto Mile, Franklin Park Conservatory, and High Banks are always fun. Lastly Festivals are back! I always love exploring the many different festivals that come to our city with family and friends.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
As a kid I was convinced I wanted to be a pediatrician. Although that changed, what didn’t was my love of serving my community and helping others. I always found myself in roles where I could share my talents with others, and I’m still doing that today.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Right now I am doing more to take control over my eating habits so am reading Vegucation over Medication by Dr. Bobby Price.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
Being a recipient of this award is amazing because it celebrates the many lives I have touch throughout my short time on this earth. It brings together all the highs, lows, ups and downs, and shows that the work is not being overlooked. People see and appreciate our efforts, our passion, and our love. It becomes an award not just for me, but for my children, my husband, my family, and my community. This award shows me that my work is valuable, needed, and should continue for as long as I can do it. I am grateful and humbled!
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Right now I would say the pulse of the city is a sense of togetherness, working together to make things happen, revitalization, bring back some tradition but being ok with good change. There is also an entrepreneurial spirit with so many great small businesses and support of those businesses. The Pulse is strength, it is love, it is pride, and I am one of many fighting to continue that upward movement!
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2022 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Spectrum for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2022” »