When Centreville residents Mark and Susan Culin enrolled their oldest daughter in a cheer squad about 15 years ago, they didn't realize they were also making plans for their retirement.
But two months ago, the Culins and their teenage daughter's cheer coach with the Southwestern Youth Association (SYA), Jelaire Grillo, decided to open up a gym, Phase Cheer and Dance. The grand opening is scheduled for May 12. With five daughters who participated in cheer and dance over the years, along with Jelaire's passion for cheer, Mark and Susan decided that the time couldn't be better to open a new business.
Since then, the Culins and Grillos have embarked on a whirlwind journey to wrap up everything before the summer rush to join camps and cheer clinics.
"It's all coming into place and it's going to be a mad rush to the finish line," said Mark, who recently retired from the Fairfax County Police Department after 28 years of service. His wife, Susan, is also preparing for retirement from the FCPD after 27 years.
It's fortunate that they have plenty of help: all five of the Culins' daughters, most of whom are adults now, will be involved with the new business, along with Jelaire's 23-year-old sister, Ashley. Even 13-year-old Samantha Culin, who's cheered for seven years now, will be a junior coach.
"It's a family business and that's what makes it the best," said Jelaire, 26, a Centreville resident who's been involved with cheer for the last seven years.
So far, Phase has about 60 boys and girls signed up for cheer and dance classes, which will be held inside a nearly 14,000 square foot, renovated industrial building in Chantilly. There will be a reception and parent viewing area, along with a retail store. Toward the back, there will be a dual-purpose room for birthday parties and study hall, where two teachers from Fairfax County will come in and tutor kids. They expect that kids will be come from all areas of Northern Virginia, so they want the students to be comfortable.
"We want it to be their home away from home," said Jelaire.
The rest of the area will be filled with tumbling equipment and a nine-panel cheer floor in the back. There will be an open area, a dance floor and a seven-panel spring floor, with enough space left over for a coach's area and offices. During the daytime, when the floors are empty because school is in session, Phase will offer fitness classes for adults.
A meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 2 at Phase Cheer and Dance for anyone who is interested in learning more.