The recent success and exponential growth of the AWC Spirit Program has been a direct result of the tireless work of Tiffany Minnick, who has spent the better part of three decades keeping cheer and dance teams in the mainstream of the two-year schools she’s been a part of. If you’d asked her in 2008 if she expected to be entering her ninth year as the head of the AWC Spirit Team in 2016-17, she would’ve likely replied with an emphatic ‘no’. That’s when she moved with her husband, Tom, from the Chicago area to AWC in the summer of 2008 so he could become the Matadors’ Head Football Coach. Tiffany was originally asked to just help out with both the AWC Spirit Squad and Dance Team in 2008-09, but her knowledge and expertise came to the forefront quickly, and she took over as Interim Head Coach early in the spring semester of ‘09. Since then, Minnick has worked tirelessly to offer opportunities for aspiring cheer and dance student-athletes, tripling the size of the rosters in less than four years. After cheering herself in high school and college, Minnick began her coaching career in 2003 as the Head Cheer Coach at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois. It was a tough but invaluable experience, since she was literally starting the program over again from scratch. The eight-girl squad Minnick started with in the first season eventually grew to a 26-person contingent by the time she left five years later. During her last three years at JJC, she led them to a pair of cheerleading championships against not just two-year but four-year college, as well as a 2nd-place finish in 2008 solely against junior colleges. During her playing days, Minnick cheered for two years at the College of DuPage in Illinois while earning her Associate of Arts Degree in Anthropology, then continued her education at Illinois State University, earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Sciences from ISU. The former Tiffany Malone also met her future husband while at DuPage, and the Minnicks have two children: Payton and Morgan.
Asst. Cheer Coach
Matt Graef is a Yuma native and graduated from Kofa High School in 2006. He was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and was a gymnast for a total of 18 years. While competing he was able to travel all over the US and was 1 out of 70 athletes to go compete overseas in Eindhoven, Netherlands to compete for team USA at a worlds competition. Matt was on the Senior National Team for 3 years until leaving the competing world behind. He is going on his 14th year of coaching which includes at various schools. He is the tumbling coach for Woodard Junior High and has helped them bring home 8 State titles and 3 National titles, and he has worked for four years at Gila Ridge with Tiffany Minnick as the assistant cheer coach for Varsity and Junior Varsity. He has been coaching at AWC with Tiffany for 6 seasons. Matt has also been in the dance community teaching Tumbling and Acro for 4 years at Dancemakers. Matt has also helped out the other high schools as well in tumbling.