Police officer and former cheerleader gives daughters tips

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 13, 2012

LANDIS — For those of you who don’t consider cheerleading a sport or athletic pursuit, meet David, Dallus and Dakotah Lambert — the 3 D’s.
They will change your mind.
Dallus and Dakotah are cheerleaders for South Rowan High School. Since they were about 5 years old, they’ve been doing flips, tumbles, back-tucks, back-layouts and handsprings — all under the watchful eye of their dad, David, who happens to be a China Grove police officer.
Many cheerleaders in this area know David (and the girls) from the five-and-a-half years he and his wife, Kim, operated the 3D Flips gym, where the athletic moves that are a part of so many cheer routines today were practiced night after night.
David also served as den father and coach for weekend cheer events, when he would travel with his daughters, other gym rats and their parents to competitions across the region.
Lambert closed his gym after becoming a police officer in 2006.
Today he serves as resource officer at Jesse Carson High School, where cheerleaders sometimes practice outside his office. He offers a spot or advice here and there, when he is asked.
The same goes for the South Rowan High squad and, of course, Lambert is always available for 17-year-old Dallus and 14-year-old Dakotah if they want to practice certain moves and flips at home or church.
“My phone still rings to this day,” he says. “I miss coaching, but I’d rather be the assistant coach now.”
The “tumbling” has always come naturally to Lambert. As a senior at South Rowan High School — David and Kim graduated together in 1986 — he was teaching friends how to do a back handspring in the gymnasium one day when the cheerleading coach, Julie Terry, asked if he might be interested in becoming one of the county’s first male cheerleaders.
Before he knew it, Lambert and some strong buddies of his found themselves cheering at basketball games.
“We had like nine guys who came off the football team,” he recalls.
At first, the guys drove themselves to the away games. But after they were accepted as part of the squad, they rode on the buses with everyone else.
In performing the various flips and hoisting and throwing girl cheerleaders in the air, Lambert says, “we did stuff back then that is highly illegal today,” describing how more safety is built into stunts and routines now.
His senior year of high school cheerleading could have easily been the end of Lambert’s association with the sport.
It wasn’t until 2000, long after he was married and raising a family, that his preacher’s daughter, Terrin Brown, sought his help in doing some tumbling moves.
Lambert taught her on old karate mats at the church, and soon eight to 10 of Terrin’s friends were joining her, seeking Lambert’s help and instruction.
“I told my wife, ‘Maybe I can make something out of this,’ ” Lambert says.
Over the next half-dozen years, they would operate cheer gyms out of three locations.
First, they scraped together the mirrors, mats and spring floor and set up a gym above the K&W Cafeteria in Kannapolis.
The second location was in the old Belk Department Store building in China Grove. The Lamberts set up their last 3D Flips gym off N.C. 152.
Over the years, Lambert “worked every kind of job you can imagine,” he says, before devoting his evenings to the gym. In the beginning, he told himself, “I’ve got the girls, I’ve got the gym, but I just don’t have the know-how.”
He received important instructional help for his cheer gym from Amy Tyler, founder of the Greensboro All-Star Cheerleaders program, and he also “picked everybody’s brain I could think of,” Lambert says.
Lambert looks back on those days fondly. His whole family was together, working, practicing and running around the gym from the time school was out until 9 p.m.
“It was amazing the time we had,” he says.
Kim Lambert proved to be the gym’s backbone, doing the books and paperwork, keeping track of payments and making up the schedules.
“I had fun.” David says. “I had the good part, where I could play.”
Lambert says he started out with “pee-wees,” but that soon expanded to girls in middle school and high school. Girls who have cheered for Northwest Cabarrus, South Rowan, Carson, East Rowan and West Rowan were among the youngsters who trained in his gym.
Lambert usually has straightforward advice to cheerleaders, who sometimes have to get over the fear of performing certain moves. He tells them to use what they know and feed off the adrenaline, momentum and crowd noise.
For the girls, Dallus says, the testy moments with their father are usually borne of frustration.
“Frustration over something I know I can do, and it doesn’t work,” says Dallus, a junior who has been a varsity cheerleader for three years. “Both of us are crying and going back and forth.”
Dakotah is a freshman cheerleader on the varsity squad.
Cheerleading can be dangerous, of course. Dallus dislocated her jaw during her freshman year when she caught a teammate’s elbow as she finished a routine. Cheerleaders often deal with broken fingers and arms, sprained knees and turned ankles.
David Lambert said cheerleading competitions are pressure packed, with the teams having, for example, 21/2 minutes to nail a perfect routine.
If college cheerleading isn’t in the Lambert girls’ future, coaching might be. Dallus helped with Dakotah’s middle school team at Corriher-Lipe last year.
They come by the coaching part of it naturally.
When their father, David, is watching basketball games at Carson or South, he probably pays more attention during the timeouts, when the cheerleaders are performing.
“I still enjoy working with them,” Lambert says.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@ salisburypost.com