Former mascot and cheerleader now instructs cheerleaders

Shea Katilus stands in the entrance of Pride Cheer and Tumbling where she is now the director. (Photo by Karen Michael)

Shea Katilus’ earliest dreams of what she wanted to do with her life have come true as she instructs toddlers to teens on how to tumble, stunt and cheer.

Katilus, once known as Shea Pratt and a member of Frenship High School’s class of 1996, is the director of Pride Cheer and Tumbling, a business at 5610 Frankford Ave.

As a third grader, Katilus began tumbling classes and was chosen as a cheerleader at Frenship Middle School in eighth grade. Since she was 13, she said she has wanted to have her own cheerleading gym and has been instructing others since she was 16.

The former FHS cheerleader and mascot went to South Plains College in Levelland on a cheerleading scholarship, earning a bigger scholarship her sophomore year when she was the captain of the squad.

While serving as an anchor on the South Plains College TV news station and taking courses in broadcast journalism, she was also vice president of the Broadcast Club and on the homecoming court. After two and a half action-packed years at SPC, she came back to the Lubbock area and attended Texas Tech for a year.

But during her junior year, she was offered a job coaching cheerleaders in New Orleans and decided to give up her college aspirations. In New Orleans, she coached at Tulane University and at the YMCA.

While she was coaching in New Orleans, she took a squad to a national championship title under the Southwestern Cheerleading Association, she said, and she knew she would not return to college to finish a broadcasting degree.

“Then I just couldn’t get it out of my blood. I love kids. I love coaching cheering and tumbling,” she said.

Katilus said cheerleaders can enjoy performing at competitions as much or more than on the sidelines.

“Finally we get to hear people cheer for us, instead of us cheering for other people,” she said. During competitions, the cheerleaders are able to fully show off their tumbling, stunting and dancing skills, she said.

“Cheerleaders are athletes,” she said.

Shortly before she left for New Orleans, she met her future husband, a Navy man named Craig Katilus, in Corpus Christi. While she was in New Orleans, they maintained a long distance relationship. After they married in 2000, she moved to Corpus Christi, and they later moved to Austin.

“Once we had our first son, we knew real quick that Navy life was not what we wanted,” she said.

Also after the birth of Gavin, Katilus decided she would rather be a stay-at-home mother than put him in daycare. But slowly, she started getting offers to coach, and brought Gavin, now 7, to the gym with her. When she had a second son, Brayden, now 4, he also joined her in the gym as she trained children and teens to cheer and tumble.

About a year and a half ago, Katilus said she and her husband moved back to the Frenship area because Gavin was school-age.

“We loved Austin, but my family was here,” said Katilus, adding that she missed her family and church, First Methodist in Wolfforth. “I wanted my kids to grow up in a small town. I just liked the Frenship community.”

Gavin is now a first grader at Crestview Elementary, while Brayden attends a parents day out twice a week.

The boys often join her at Pride Cheer and Tumbling, where she instructs in the evenings five days a week.

“It’s great when you get paid to do what you love,” said Katilus.

In addition to teaching at Pride, Katilus also coaches the Trinity Christian High School cheerleaders, is a choreographer for the Monterrey High School show choir and is the nursery coordinator at her church.

“I’m a very busy mom,” said Katilus.

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