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Our Staff

We pride ourselves in having the best staff that lives our motto: "Work Hard. Be Nice." Here is just a glimpse of the EA Staff and what we're all about!

Kyle Pappas


Kyle has been involved with cheerleading since the age of 17. He started in Reno, NV, before moving to Colorado in 2001. Kyle has worked in the competitive cheer industry since 1998, working at several gyms, both small and large, in his career. He has coached numerous high school programs, worked closely with the University of Colorado at Boulder, and won several National Championships in All-Star Cheerleading. In 2012, he left his former job to pursue a career independently in the industry he loves, and Empire Athletics was born. Kyle now spends his time traveling, internationally for judging and training. He currently owns and runs gyms in Denver, CO, and Montreal, QC, Canada

Paige Grunewald

Privates Coordinator / Coach

Paige joins Empire Athletics with over 15 years of experience in gymnastics, all-star and high school cheerleading, as well as acrobatics and tumbling. Paige went from gymnastics to cheerleading at the age 12. During her time in high school she cheered for Cheer Central Suns and Broomfield High School. She finished your athletic career at Baylor University on their Acrobatics and Tumbling team. During and after college, Paige has assisted in coaching all-star and high school teams, team tumbling and classes. Along side coaching at Empire she is currently the Marketing Director for a real estate company in Boulder.

Jon Baran

Head Coach

Jonathan Baran has been involved in the cheerleading and dance industry since 2000. Jon Cheered at the University of Colorado, Boulder where he earned his BA in Economics and was a captain of the cheer team his senior year. Jon worked 11 years as a UCA Staff member/Head Instructor where he taught camps all across the United States. Jon also worked various Varsity Brand national events and began Judging in 2008. His judging experience includes various Regional and State championships for the Colorado High School Association, numerous US State Championships, UCA Nationals, WSA National Championships, BCA Nationals (England), the Irish Nationals Championships (Ireland), Cheercon (Australia), various European regional events, and other Varsity Brand Championships. Jon has coached various levels of cheerleading including levels 1 - 6 in All Star, numerous High Schools, US College/University, and Internationally for teams in the UK, Austria, Czech, Hungary, Australia, and Germany. Jon has coached numerous level 5 and level 6 world's teams including the Int'l Coed level 5 Peak Athletics cheer team and team Austria, ICU AG Premier and USASF Int'l Level 6 team. In addition, Jon has either coached or choreographed 17 teams to CHSAA state championships since 2004. Jon recently moved back from Adelaide, Australia where he was coaching for 2.5 years at Visual Energy Studios. In his time there, VES won numerous state championships and in 2019 won the Australian Pinnacle title, Australia's equivalent to the Summit in the US. In his free time, Jon enjoys outdoor activities and teaching ski school for Vail resorts.

Bradlee Simnioniw

Lead Coach

Bradlee’s experience in the sport of cheer started in a competitive All Star program at age 7 and continued as she transitioned to 5A high school cheer. After high school, she was a member and captain of the Colorado Mesa University team throughout undergraduate program. Bradlee has coached two high school cheer programs, and is currently also teaching in the Adams 5 Star school district. In addition to tumbling, Bradlee brings extensive sideline and competitive experience as a flyer, mid, base, backspot to Empire.

Mike Sokolowski

Lead Coach

Mike moved to Colorado from Chicago during the summer of 2020. This December, He will graduate from the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute in Gunbarrel and plan to continue my studies in osteopathy - taking clients as soon as the turn of the new year! I have 9 years of coaching experience between gymnastics and cheerleading. In my free time, you'll find me trail running, climbing rocks, or making music - fun fact - I'm in a band! Super excited to work with you.

Kaylee Torres

Administrative Assistant / Junior Coach

Kaylee did gymnastics from a young age and fell in love with the aspects of the sport. She took off a few years and once in high school wanted to try cheerleading. She is currently a Erie high school cheerleader, she has been doing cheer for 2 almost 3 years. Before that she did gymnastics for 8 years. When she was doing gymnastics she helped coach the younger teams with tumbling.

Sindey Brees-Martinez

Assistant Class Program Manager/ Head Coach

Coach Sidney cheered for 11 years, 7 in the allstar world at Colorado Lightning Athletics while also cheering 1 year at Horizon High School, and 4 years at Colorado Mesa University (Go Mavs!). Sidney has coached cheerleading since 2015, and is currently at Regis University getting her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. Coach Sidney enjoys reading, movies, sushi, and practicing yoga. She is excited to help athletes learn to be the best they can be in this amazing sport.

Lexi Zoerb


Lexi is currently a Sophomore at Colorado Mesa university studying criminal justice with a minor in psychology. While attending school Lexi is also a Colorado Mesa Cheerleader. Lexi has been cheering since she was 4 years old. Starting with all-star and then continuing into high school and now college. Lexi has been nominated and won 2 All-American titles during her high school cheer career as well as winning multiple state titles and a couple national titles during her all-star career. Lexi has been coaching at empire for 2 and a half years and can’t wait to see what the future holds! In the future Lexi hopes to work at the federal level of the justice system profiling criminals. Along with this she also hopes to keep coaching and staying connected to the cheer world.

Shayne Henry


Shayne grew up in Castle Rock, CO and was a part of the CO-ED Cheerleading program at Douglas County High School from 2006-2010. She is a graduate of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO where she received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and had the opportunity to cheer for the CSU Rams all 4 years. Shayne was a part of UCA Staff throughout college and has coached for various teams since graduating. She is excited to join Empire Athletics and to work with athletes from all around Colorado

Isabella Bergmann

Junior Coach

Isabella Bergmann is a Senior at Horizon High School, graduating in 2022. She has been cheering competitively for 13+ years and has loved every second of it! She has also been on the Horizon Varsity Cheer team for all four years. Isabella has been attending Empire as an athlete for 5 years. Isabella will be majoring in Marketing with a minor in Spanish. She has not decided where she wants to go to college but she will be staying in state. Isabella loves working with kids and has worked with them in the past. Isabella is always ready to work and loves being apart of the Empire family!

Brooke Gigliotti

HS Program Manager

Bio Coming Soon!

Chloe Snow

Head Coach

Chloe’s love for cheerleading started at a very young age. She cheered in high school in Alaska where she grew up and then pursued her dream of being a college cheerleader at CU Boulder. She cheered on both the coed and all-girl team. She now is attending CU Denver and hopes to go to nursing school after she graduates.

Sam Snyder

Head Coach

Sam has been tumbling since she was three years old and joined her first performing team when she was five. When she moved out to Colorado in 2007 she quickly began an All-Star cheerleading career that continued until 2013. After taking a break from cheer, she cheered her Senior year at Ralston Valley, 2014-2015. She is currently enrolled at Colorado State University to pursue a degree in health and exercise science, and later to become a physical therapist. She began working at Empire in July of 2014 and loves that she gets to work with athletes that love the sport as much as she does!

Hannah Carver

Lead Coach

Hannah's cheerleading experience began with middle school cheer and continued for the next 10 years as she worked her way through high school and college. During her time at Colorado Mesa University, she cheered on the Mavericks while earning her bachelors degree and was also involved with coaching a high school program in the area. Over the summers, Hannah would also dedicate her time to being part of UCA staff and traveling throughout the states to instruct and demo at high school camps. She offers a bubbly personality, experience in multiple positions, and a love for cheerleading that she is excited to share with other athletes!

Nathan O’Connor

Lead Coach

Nathan began power tumbling at the age of 3. He competed at the elite level up until the age of 14. He had the opportunity to represent Team USA at the World Age Group Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia where he placed 6th. Nathan got into cheerleading at the age of 14 where he competed High School and Allstar. In 2017, Nathan was a member of the Twist & Shout Diamonds. He won NCA AllStar Nationals and placed 5th at the World Championships. He continued my cheer career at Oklahoma State University where he participated in game day and competition for 4 years. Nathan is now a student at Regis University, pursuing his Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

Keri Pison

Administrative Assistant / Coach

Keri started gymnastics at a young age, and then quickly found her passion for cheerleading. She started as an All star cheerleader and then transitioned into high school where she cheered all four years. After high school Keri went on to cheer at Colorado Mesa University for 5 years. She now has 10 years of experience in the cheer industry, and is excited expand her experiences through coaching.

Gina Griego


Gina started cheerleading at a young age after trying gymnastics and fell in love with the sport. She has been cheering for about 11 years now. She's a former competitive and high school cheerleader with a couple of national titles under my belt. Gina now cheer for the University of Colorado. Before coaching cheerleading she went back to gymnastics and coached competitive levels 2&3.

Madison Shepherd


Madison has been a cheerleader since since was 11. She cheered for Peak Athletics from 2012-2015 and then moved onto high school cheer for Rock Canyon from 2015-2019 and did a half year team at Peak her senior year. While at Rock Canyon she won two D1 3rd place titles at NHSCC. She is currently enrolled a the University of Colorado Boulder studying psychology to later become a psychiatrist for first responders. Aside from working at Empire Athletics, Madison also works for CU’s restorative justice program.

Derick Gregory

Stunt Coach

Derick began cheerleading when he was in 8th grade. He first started cheering at Brighton High School, which is where he became an athlete at Empire Athletics. Derick now cheers at the University of Colorado-Boulder!

Maryn Murphy

Junior Coach

Maryn has been tumbling and stunting since she was 5. She has also been on competitive cheer teams as well as cheering for her high school cheer team. She’s been on varsity for three years for Erie High School. She’s also won 2 state championships. Along with that training at Empire since 7th grade and is now a sophomore. She plans on continuing cheering with Erie High School, training at empire, and hopefully cheering in college.

Hunter Stewart

Class Program Manger/ Head Coach

Hunter has been involved with Cheer since 2013 cheering for Legend High School as well as 3 years at the University of Colorado. Hunter has been coaching since he was in high school both gymnastics and cheerleading. He also coached All-Star for several years with Planet Cheer taking multiple teams to The Summit. Hunter is currently applying to graduate school in hopes to become a Physical Therapist.

Jasmine Chase

Head Coach

Jasmine was a gymnast for nine years, a cheerleader all four years of high school and her fourth year also did competitive cheer. She is now graduated from metro with a degree in nutrition and is working on going to nursing school. Aside from working here she works at an assisted living home for memory care. She is excited to continue her cheer career working here and continuing to grow and learn as a coach!

Allison Searls

Lead Coach

Allison fell in love with cheer when she was 6 years old. She did all-star cheer for 8 years. She cheered at Skyline High School and went on to cheer at the University of Wyoming. She has coached gymnastics and cheer and is excited to continue her coaching at Empire! She majored in Elementary Education at Wyoming. She is beyond excited to be a kindergarten teaching in Greeley and share her passion for cheer here at Empire Athletics.

Jordan Thede

Lead Coach

Jordan started as an all-star cheerleader at the age of 8. She continued to travel to different State and National competitions for 5 years. Once she reached High School, she cheered on the Horizon High School Varsity team her Freshman, Sophomore and Senior years. Jordan’s Junior year she decided to step outside of the box and danced on the Varsity Poms team. After graduation, Jordan continued dancing at events in and out of state, expanding her knowledge and experience as a performer for about 4 years. During this time, she also pursued her dream of educating children both at the Butterfly Pavilion and in early childhood education. Jordan started working at Empire Athletics as an administrative assistant in September 2016. She is excited to learn and grow as a coach at Empire, continuing to fuel her passion in the cheer industry.

Alyssa Hillard

Administrative Assistant / Junior Coach

Alyssa has being dedicated to sports since she was 3. From ages 3-7 she did gymnastics. From ages 7-18 Alyssa had done cheer. She has cheered for Cheer Central Suns, Mountain Range High School, and Mead High School. She is attending the University of Colorado - Boulder where she plans on cheering. She also has plans to coach a high school team once she is out of college. She is planning on double majoring in Marketing and Business Administration.

Nykelle Funk

Administrative Assistant / Junior Coach

Nykelle was a gymnast for 11 years prior to becoming a cheerleader. Her freshman year of Highschool she joined the Erie cheer team and has been doing it since, and hopes to continue for the rest of Highschool. She has a love for tumbling and likes teaching others how to tumble, similar to when she used to teach her little sister. She enjoys hanging out with her friends and family, going fishing, and watching movies when she isn’t cheering.

Jordan Blott


Jordan started in gymnastics at the age of six and advanced to the Canadian Provincial Team for Trampoline and Tumbling for Team Alberta at 14 years old. After moving to the United States in 2000 he began coaching various athletes with the focus on tumbling. In addition, he worked with several cheer teams across the country. Jordan's had the pleasure of accompanying several teams to Worlds and has also coached several seasons at Camp Woodward. At Camp Woodward, Jordan had the opportunity to teach with some of the best gymnastic and tumbling coaches around the world, where he aspires to share that knowledge with his students. Jordan strives to advance his students in tumbling with confidence in themselves.

Riley Wells


Riley begin sideline cheer at the age of 5 in Central Florida and eventually made her way to Colorado to cheer for Broomfield High School. She has over 12 years of experience cheerleading and loves the values, enthusiasm, and community behind the sport. After moving to Colorado in high school, Riley won the 4A Colorado State Championship and was captain of the BHS cheer team both her junior and senior year. Riley went to CU Boulder and now works as a data analyst in Denver. She is thrilled to be apart of the Empire Athletics staff and helps teams and athletes find success in their cheerleading careers.

Hayden Metz

Stunt Coach

Hayden has been involved in cheerleading for 6 years now and started as a sophomore in high school. He is a Pomona High School alumni and recently attended Iowa Western Community College where him and his team won the 2016 World University Cheerleading Championship. Hayden is a 3rd year UCA staffer and next to working at Empire, it is the best job in the world. He looks forward to coaching each and every athlete that walks through the doors of Empire and is always excited and more than happy to work with you!

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