KENNEWICK -- Countless trophies and photos of dancers and cheerleaders are being packed in boxes at Kennewick's Elite Cheer & Dance Center.
After 14 years of coaching the Eastern Washington Elite dance and cheer teams and seven years of owning the center, Teri Rowe closed her business Tuesday.
Rowe, of Richland, said the decision was difficult as her students are what have kept her coaching for 30 years.
"I needed to be done and spend more time with my kids," she said.
She plans to watch Carsen, 18, dance with the Washington State University Crimson Girls dance team; see Jamison, 19, play baseball for University of Nevada, Reno; and spend time with Hayden, 22, who is attending law school at Arizona State University.
Rowe said she decided Monday that it was time to step back from coaching, teaching and being a business owner.
The timing was right because the season hadn't started yet, she said. Auditions had been held for the Elite teams, but practices hadn't begun. And the lease on the building was up.
Rowe said the closure caught her staff and students off guard. She contacted all her staff and e-mailed her students.
Rowe said what her students have accomplished makes her proud. She has had dancers go on to become professional dancers, choreographers, coaches and teachers and compete in college.
And the Elite teams have won national and international competitions. The Elite dance team has placed in the top three at all three World Dance Championships since that competition started, Rowe said.
Rowe plans to continue as a freelance consultant and judge. She has trained judges for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and helped high school dance teams in the area.
Rowe said she also will film an instruction video for hip hop skills and tricks. The Elite dance team has been an innovator of tricks, she said.
Elite Dance & Cheer Center also was home to the Tri-City Stars, a recreational cheer team Rowe started 14 years ago. Rowe said there weren't other cheer opportunities in the Tri-Cities then, but there are now.
Her decision means the end of Eastern Washington Elite Cheer senior, junior and youth teams.
But two of Rowe's coaches, Jackie Hightower and Desiree Walter, will continue the Eastern Washington Elite dance teams and offer dance classes at the new Crush Dance Studio.
Kathy Nunez, owner of Studio One Hair and Spa in Kennewick, owns Crush. Nunez is changing her current business at 101 N. Union St., suite 207, in Kennewick, from a girls' hair salon to the studio. Nunez said she still will offer birthday parties on Saturdays.
Two of the dance teachers from the closed center also will teach at the new studio, said Hightower, who will handle the business side of the dance teams. Walter will be the head coach and teacher.
They plan to continue all three levels of elite teams and to compete at the Universal Dance Association Nationals next year.
Anyone who earned a spot on the Elite Dance teams in the recent auditions still has that spot, Hightower said. Classes and team practices are expected to start next week. And dance classes will be offered for those ages 3 and up, Walter said.
Hightower said she and Walter want to continue the Elite tradition.
"We are keeping the integrity of the team," she said.
Crush Dance Studio can be reached at 509-783-4475.
For more information, go to www.crushdancestudio.com.
-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org