December 2018

Carolina Dream All Stars

Author: Becca Edwards

The heart is pumping. The hair bow is poised. Everyone is in position. You are terrified. The music starts, and your muscle memory takes over as you move into each segment of your team’s routine. And when you finish, you run off the stage elated and ready to do it all over again. This is how Connor Dafler, owner and head coach of Carolina Dream All Stars, describes an all-star cheerleading competition.

Dafler fell in love with all-star cheerleading at the age of seven, and she has been tumbling, pulling off stunts, building human pyramids, dancing, and cheering since then. “My mom owned Island Cheerleading Academy on Hilton Head. I started there and then went on to Cheer Savannah. Throughout the time I competed, I also coached. My mom started a special needs cheerleading team in 2003, and I started working with them. I always knew one day I would open up my own gym.”

That day finally came two years ago. “We started in a laundry room warehouse with very little equipment and four kids,” Dafler said. “We have since moved to a much larger location, have much more equipment, including a full-sized competition spring floor, and around 100 all-star and recreational athletes.”

As Dafler talks about all-star cheerleading, her passion for the sport is contagious. You realize there are several misconceptions about who an all-star cheerleader is and what she (or he) does. “There are negative connotations associated with cheerleading. Some people may hear the word cheerleader and think of a rah-rah, pretty, perfect blonde, but that’s not a true depiction. We are not superficial. Also, a lot of people don’t think of cheerleading as a sport, but they might be thinking of sideline cheerleading. Cheering is challenging,” Dafler explained.

Dafler described just what sets all-star cheerleading apart from other team sports. “All-star cheerleading is different from any other team sport. It is much more about community and learning how to problem solve. You laugh together, you cry together, you get frustrated together, but ultimately you love your team. It’s hard to explain, but your squad becomes your family.”

The theme of family is pervasive throughout Carolina Dream All Stars. Dafler’s mom Julie is the office manager and head coach for the Island Special Team. Dafler’s sister Alex is the tumbling and cheer coach. And, Ashley Mitchell, Dafler’s best friend from childhood, is the other head coach. Together, they all work to promote strength, power and beauty. “We want all our all-stars to have strong bodies and strong minds, power in skills and power to make a positive impact, and to have a beautiful heart that radiates in all that they do,” Dafler said.

Carolina Dream All Stars is located in Bluffton at 39 Sheridan Park Circle, Unit 6. To learn more, visit or call (843) 816-0528.

Carolina Dream offers classes, clinics and their all-star program, as well as private lessons. Here is a breakdown of the classes:

Pre-school Tumbling – Mondays 4:45-5:30 p.m.
This class focuses on basic tumbling skills and body awareness, as well as listening skills.
Beginner Tumbling – Wednesdays 5-6 p.m.
This class focuses on basic tumbling skills and building up the muscles necessary to complete those skills.
Back Handsprings – Mondays 6:30-7:30 p.m.
This class is for athletes who are working on back handsprings or higher-level tumbling and will focus on strength exercises, drills and skills.
Flyer Fit N Flex – Wednesdays 5-6 p.m.
This class focuses on flexibility and body control.

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