Cheer Coach Allie Mackey Steps into New Chapter at Portola High


Ryne Dunman

Though she’s coached Pep Squad since the 2018-19 school year, this year is Mackey’s first as a certified teacher at Portola. “Really, it was my first year being here that actually shifted my life plan. I started coaching here, and it made me want to become a teacher,” Mackey said.

It’s a big leap forward for head cheer coach — and new dance teacher — Allie Mackey.

This school year is the first that Mackey will teach Dance 1 and her first as a full-time teacher, having earned her teaching credential last year. Yet what seems to be a monumental shift in Mackey’s coaching career is also a return to her roots.

Mackey first attended a dance program at the age of three and quickly took up competitive cheer by the age of five. During her time at the University of California, Irvine, Mackey won silver and bronze at the U.S. All Star Federation’s Cheerleading Worlds competition and coached cheer teams at Laguna Hills High School.

“It was a huge time commitment but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Mackey said. “I think that my passion for cheerleading has really rooted from my love of dance, and so I feel I owe so much of my success in my own cheerleading career to dance, because that was really my first love.”

Throughout her experiences as a cheerleader, coach and teacher, Mackey has maintained an appreciation for dance and cheer as a way to promote both physical and mental health.

“I always say, and I say this with my cheer girls as well: ‘When you come into our space, into cheer or dance, let this be the place where you don’t bring in any of that extra baggage,’” Mackey said. “You can just be free and be able to just have your mind off of any kind of stressors.”

According to Dance 1 student and freshman Sharim Khan, Mackey’s support has eased the apprehension he felt when first beginning dance.

“The whole environment is really welcoming,” Khan said. “People aren’t being shamed for doing anything wrong; they’re just being taught. Certain steps that people are confused on, we just go and ask Mrs. Mackey, and she repeats it for us. Most of the time she was giving all the effort she can, so it also enables the students to put in that same effort.”

Senior Liza Chudaeva, who enrolled in Dance 1 this year after taking lessons as a child, sees Mackey’s ability to push herself and others inspiring, inside and outside of the dance room.

“She’s understanding and gives us opportunity to keep up with lessons,” Chudaeva said. “And she’s risky in terms of that she is already a PE and health teacher, and now she’s a dance teacher, so this is her new experience. It’s awesome that she’s fearless of taking that risk.”

Despite the new ground that Mackey is covering this year, she is drawing learners out of their comfort zones, diligently teaching eight-counts and leading with the right foot. In dance, of course, that would be her left.