Alumni NFL and NBA Cheerleader GeNienne Samuels is the CEO of Sideline Prep. A role model on the field and in the boardroom, she uses the lessons she’s learned through sports to coach the next generation of professional entertainers.
Throughout her life, Samuels has been an athlete. In high school, she ran cross-country, track and cheered for both football and basketball. She continued in college as a member of a co-ed stunt team and then danced as a professional cheerleader for the NFL and NBA. As a captain of her teams, Samuels gained valuable lessons that would prepare her to start her own business, lead in the boardroom, and guide the rising stars of tomorrow’s professional cheerleaders. “As captain, you have to be able to bring everyone together for a common goal regardless of differences in upbringing, viewpoints, and skillsets,” she says. “Those lessons can take you all the way from being a member of a team to leading your team as the CEO of your own company.”
GeNienne Samuels learns from the physical and mental demands of cheerleading
The physical and mental stamina required to be a professional cheerleader is intense. Throughout her career, Samuels pushed herself to be at peak performance. “You have to be in shape, lift weights, and be physically fit to get through a game,” she says. “And with any athletic event, you have to have the mental fortitude to go out there and perform. If you make a mistake, you get up and get back in with a smile on your face.”
Samuels carried that physical and mental fortitude into the boardroom when starting GS Consulting and Communications, INC and founding Sideline Prep, a pro cheer prep company. Leaving the comfort of a corporate, “predictable” paycheck takes guts. Samuels attributes her ability to step out of her comfort zone and follow her true passion to her days as a runner and cheerleader. “Find the strength to be confident in who you are and show up as your authentic self, even if your opinion isn’t popular,” she advises. “You won’t always cross the finish line first. Push forward and lean on your teammates to get through the tough times.”
GeNienne Samuels learns the importance of following her purpose and passion
As a track and field runner, you are the “talent”; when running your race, you’re the “main event.” However, cheerleaders are often on the sidelines supporting other athletes and hyping up the fans. It was just recently that cheerleading was recognized as a sport, but this didn’t stop Samuels from doing what she enjoyed.
“When you are the supporter of the main event, you have to be humble,” she explains. “But you still have to recognize that what you’re doing is important. You’re not the main event, but you are your own main event. Even though you are not what the spectators came to see, you are still being seen, and you are still important.”
From an early age, Samuels focused on following her purpose and passion. She referred to this as her “why.” When your desire and love for something is strong enough and it aligns to your “why”, then you’re moving in the right direction. When it came to cheerleading, she realized her passion was supporting others while showing her athletic ability in performances and routines. “As long as you love what you’re doing and you have a passion for it, that’s all that matters.”
In the boardroom, Samuels still takes time to search for her purpose. “As CEO of Sideline Prep,” she says, “my ‘why’ is helping others experience the same things I enjoyed during my 11 years as a professional cheerleader. I coach clients to grow from the inside out and develop as powerful women in their careers and on the sidelines.”
GeNienne Samuels brings the self-discipline she learned as an athlete to Sideline Prep
Becoming a top competitor in the cheerleading industry takes years of daily practice and strict dedication. Self-discipline and time management are skills Samuels cultivated early on as a young cheerleader and runner.
At Sideline Prep, Samuels supports and coaches her clients to develop the same high standard of discipline. Each young client comes with a dream of becoming a professional cheerleader, and Samuels takes time to discover the client’s current ability, skillset, and needs. “We figure out what the clients need to work on based on where they plan to audition,” she says.” Next, we help them develop an action plan to get there.”
The company that opened as Samuels’ side-business in 2010 has grown into an international pro and semi-pro cheer and dance preparation company. At Sideline Prep, clients from all around the world become prepared and polished for professional NFL, NHL and NBA cheerleading auditions. At the same time, Samuels teaches them to live in their purpose, have faith in themselves, and be bold in their actions and dreams.
The foundation of Sideline Prep’s training is all about mindset and confidence. As a life-long athlete and CEO, Samuels reminds the next generation of professional cheerleaders that living their dream life is on the other side of fear. “We don’t allow fear or doubt to stop our clients from achieving their goals,” she says.” You can be a fantastic dancer, but if you have low self-esteem or lack mental fortitude, it’s hard to fake the funk in front of the judges. My program helps people become prepared and polished for auditions, but it’s more about challenging them to grow and become stronger individuals from the inside out, and that starts with their mind.”