This is my ninth article in a series profiling prominent personalities in Canadian Cheerleading. Chris McLeod is known across Canada as the founder, owner and head coach of Cheer Factory.
Chris’s cheerleading career started at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont.
“A friend begged me to join Cheer since they were looking for male athletes,” Chris recalls.
He resisted for three months before attending a practice, then his life turned a corner.
He stayed with the Lakehead Cheer Team for his undergraduate degree 2001-2005, and also joined an adult allstar team. In 2005-2007 he joined the Queen’s University Cheerleading team while doing his graduate degree.
In 2009, Chris returned to Thunder Bay and started coaching around his day job in education. During 2010-2015 he was an athlete again with CheerForce Wolf Pack in Toronto.
Cheer Factory was founded in 2010. Chris created a business model different from most gyms that are based in and around the local community. Since 2010, Cheer Factory has provided traveling services to Cheerleading gyms, particularly to high level teams preparing to compete at Cheerleading Worlds.
In 2014, Chris moved to Toronto and Cheer Factory boomed. Cheer Factory traveling services were in demand beyond Ontario. In 2017, Chris left his work with Indigenous community development to do Cheer full-time. Since 2010, Cheer Factory has provided traveling services to Cheerleading teams across North America, Europe, Africa, and the South Pacific. Cheer Factory coaches do hands-on instruction, music, choreography, and rule clarification.
Training and support for coaches and athletes is provided through skills clinics, camps, events, conferences, program development and an online presence. Since the Cheer Factory schedule was entirely cancelled due to COVID, they ramped up the online services, newly christened The Cheer Forge. Chris explains, “A forge is where you make stuff.”
The Cheer Forge was launched on May 1 as a resource for athletes, coaches, judges and coaches-in-training and has clients in 30 countries. It features skills and drills for everyone, and has a search tool to search by rule, by name of skill, by level, etc. compared to other online services that post random thumbnail videos. The Cheer Forge has new content added weekly. www.thecheerforge.com.