This is my 10th article in a series profiling prominent personalities in Canadian Cheerleading. Caitlyn Nelson is known as “the better half” of Cheer Factory based in Toronto.
Caitlyn’s athletic career started in competitive gymnastics. After grade 12, at Nippissing University in North Bay, Ont., Caitlyn discovered cheerleading.
“I immediately loved the camaraderie and community of cheer and as a psychology major, I developed a deeper understanding of the positive affects of sport.”
Caitlyn was a tumbler and flyer on the team for the five years of her undergraduate degree.
After convocation, Caitlyn pursued a diploma program in Sault St. Marie, where there was no cheerleading. So, Caitlyn established The Cheer Academy and built the program to 150 athletes, 2012-2016.
Caitlyn hired Cheer Factory to do skill workshops with her athletes at The Cheer Academy. A young, handsome coach named Chris McLeod traveled to Sault St. Marie to do the workshop. Caitlyn and Chris kept in touch, which turned into dating, and then he was a good reason to look for a job in Toronto and join an adult cheer team in Toronto. Chris and Caitlyn were married in September 2018.
While it may appear as though sport is primarily concerned with skill training and gameday performance, Chris and Cailtyn are dedicated to what they call “sport for development,” using the rigor and dedication to sport as a vehicle for character development.
In 2016, Caitlyn started a new job with the Toronto Blue Jays. She uses her broad skill set in athletic training and psychology to create and implement Life Promotion programming and train coaches to use principles of inclusion in sport development programs for youth in northern Ontario. Her current job title is Program Manager of the Indigenous and Remote Communities Initiative.
Caitlyn’s passion is using sport, specifically cheerleading, to teach life skills like resilience, courage, perseverance and love of sport. Caitlyn and Chris focus on coaching in ways that helps kids reach their potential, and how to build kids up to be a positive influence for the entire team.
Caitlyn’s role at Cheer Factory is Athlete and Coach Development. She does skills training as well as the peripheral skills of conflict transformation, behavior management, staff management, team-building and women in sport.