Former Suns Cheerleader To Head P&R Classes

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A former Phoenix Suns cheerleader will soon share her expertise in hip hop dance and gymnastics with Rim country youngsters.

Alicia Monahan, a member of the world renowned Suns spirit line from 1994 to 1997, will teach three classes --outh Acrobat, Youth Jazz/Acrobat and Jazz/Hip Hop Dance -- will be co-sponsored by the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

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Alicia Monahan, a former Suns cheerleader, will teach dance and acrobatics for the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

Monahan said she is excited to share the skills she acquired during her years as a cheerleader for Glendale Ironwood High School, Glendale Community College and the Suns.

"It's going to be a fun summer. There are so many things we can do and learn (in the classes)," she said. "My mom always encouraged me and gave me the opportunity to do all those things; maybe I can help someone else."

The 30-year-old Monahan, a certified teacher who has taught third- and sixth-grades, remembers her stint as Suns cheerleader as very demanding.

"I was a full-time student at ASU and we had to practice everyday 8 p.m. to midnight and do two new routines a week with no repeats," she said. "Now, I don't know how I found time for it."

One of the highlights of being a cheerleader, she said, was working with the team mascot -- the Suns Gorilla.

"He was an amazing gymnast, really funny and neat to be around," she said.

One of her fondest memories was filming a Suns promotion, while on a boat with the Gorilla, at Saguaro Lake."Traveling to the lake he was wearing only his suit without the (gorilla) head and he was like a normal, everyday guy," she said. "When we got to the lake and he put on the head, his personality changed and he became this wild, crazy mascot."

As a cheerleader, Monahan also had the opportunity to travel the world and rub elbows with some very famous professional basketball players including Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan and Steve Nash.

One of the Suns' journeys took Monahan and her fellow cheerleaders to Mexico City where Phoenix and three other NBA teams played exhibition games.

"They flew us in and we stayed in the finest hotel and had all the best service," she said. "Performing in front of the huge crowd was amazing."

It was during her days with the Suns that she perfected her cheer skills and techniques.

"I learned a lot about dance and how to perform with a group," she said. "It was hard, but I just loved it."

Although Monahan recalls her days with the Suns fondly, she said she reluctantly turned out for the spirit line.

"I didn't really want to try out and only decided to at the last minute," she said. "There were 250 girls in America West Arena trying out for four spots."

After the first day, the group was trimmed to 70 by the cheer judge. Monahan was among the 70 chosen.

"I didn't know if I was going to make (the final four) but then my competitive side really kicked in," she said. "Being chosen was very suspenseful. There were news cameras on us and the names were called out one-by-one."

Being selected a Suns cheerleader was the culmination of a career that began when Monahan took up tap dancing at age 3, moved on to gymnastics when she was about 4 and settled on dance at 7.

"I always wanted to sing and dance but I found out I couldn't sing, so it was dance," she said.

After stepping down from her whirlwind career, Monahan taught public school and married professional baseball player Shane Monahan, now the Payson Home Depot manager.

The two have lived in the Rim country since spring.

As the newly chosen instructor of the upcoming parks and recreation classes, one of her goals is to spark an interest in the students who enroll. If the spark is bright enough, she hopes to continue teaching the youngsters once the P&R lessons wrap up.

To do that, Monahan said she might have to teach private classes or team up with a local studio.

Whatever the future holds, Monahan plans to provide Rim country youngsters with the top notch instruction they might not previously have been available locally..

"I'm really a teacher at heart," she said. "And teaching what I did for so many years might be what I'm best at."

Class information

Youth Acrobat Classes:

Register by June 1- Begins June 15.

This class is for boys and girls ages 3-6 as of June 1, 2005 who want to learn basic acrobat/ tumbling skills. Classes will be held every Wednesday starting June 15 through July 13 in the Rim Country Middle School Gym.

Class times for children ages 3-4 will be 9 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. and ages 5-6 will be 9:45 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.

Children may be moved to another class time to fit their ability.

The cost is $25 per child. Class size is limited to 10 participants.

Youth Jazz/Acrobat Classes:

Register by June 1- Begins June 14.

This class is for boys and girls who are ages 6-9 as of June 1, 2005 who want to learn basic jazz dance moves and acrobat/tumbling skills.

Classes will be held every Tuesday starting June 14 through July 12 in the Rim Country Middle School Gym.

Class times for ages 6-7 will be 5 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. and ages 8-9 will be 6 p.m. to 6:55 p.m.

The cost is $35 per child. Class size is limited to 12 participants. Children may be moved to another class time to fit their ability.

Jazz/Hip Hop Dance Classes:

Register by June 1- Begins June 16.

This class is for those who want to learn a basic combinations of Jazz and Hip Hop dance moves.

Classes will be held Thursdays June 16 through July 14 in the Rim Country Middle School Gym. Class time is determined by age as of June 1, 2005.

Class times for ages 7-9 will be 4 p.m. to 4:55 p.m., ages 10-12 will be 5 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. and ages 13 and up will be 6 p.m. to 6:55 p.m.

The cost is $35 per person. Class size is limited to 15 participants.

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