Knoxville, TN (North) Staff

Staff Image of Kerissa Stott

Kerissa Stott

General Manager / All-Star Dance Program Director / The Dance Academy Director / Dance Choreographer

Kerissa was on the University of Tennessee Dance Team for 4 years and the UT Dance Company for 3 years. In addition to this, she studied ballet and tap for 2 years. Kerissa has been the head coach for Premier Sharks Dance for the last 11 years. Kerissa continues to rock the house on Foxy Sharks, which is an open dance team. She has 2 beautiful girls and another on the way! Her favorite style of dance is Jazz/Contemporary and her favorite dancer is Janet Jackson.

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Lea Emery

Girls Team Program Director


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Eric Thomas

Assistant Manager / Academy Director (Tumble, Gymnastics, Little Explorers) / Trampoline & Tumbling Team Director

Gymnastics has been in Eric’s life since he was five, even before then if you count, a cousin was helping him flip around since he was two!  Eric loves what he does, and what the sport offers. He says, “The opportunities that this sport has provided is well worth the hard work that it took to become a high level athlete and then becoming a high level coach.” He has trained in trampoline & tumbling, gymnastics, dance, and cheer. He has a passion for all of these disciplines, but found his calling as a trampoline and tumbling coach when he moved to Knoxville, TN 18 years ago and began working for Premier Athletics.  While working with Premier he has become an international coach having coached an athlete to World Age Groups in 2007 (Canada), 2009 (Russia), 2010 (France), 2011 (England), 2013 (Bulgaria), 2014 (Daytona, FL), 2015 (Denmark), and 2017 (Bulgaria).  Eventually even coaching an athlete to the World Championships in 2011 & 2015. He was then named to the USA coaching staff in 2010, 2011, & 2015. With these triumphs in this sport he still loves coaching the basics and helping athletes achieve their goals!

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Sheila Whitaker

Office Manager

Sheila joined the Premier family in 2004 as a receptionist for the front desk. In 2011, she was promoted to Office Manager. Her favorite Premier memory consists of daily laughter with various staff members, and working alongside her beautiful grown children, Shanise and Quintin. Sheila shares that "it is always great to sit back and think that we, as a group of individuals at Premier, are hopefully making a difference in each child's life.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me" - Phillippians 4:13

Staff Image of Levon Burton

Levon Burton

All-Star Cheer Team Director | Tumble Instructor

Levon cheered for over 6 years in an All Star program. He then started coaching in 1999 and joined the Premier Athletics family 5 years later. In 2008, Levon was awarded "Premier Athletics Coach of the Year", which he recalls as his favorite Premier memory. With a strong cheer background, but none whatsoever in dance, he decided to try something new this year (2015). He auditioned for and made our Coed Open Hip Hop team, Mega Sharks. Anyone who knows Levon, knows his pride and joy is his daughter Ava, who he "loves with all of his heart"!

"Do your best"

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Lisa Collins

Assistant Girls Team Director


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Maria Curmi

Premier Athletics Dance Company All-Star Assistant Director | Choreographer

Maria has been dancing since middle school and was also a dancer/cheerleader for the prestigious Top Gun All Stars in Miami, FL. She has coached dance and cheer for our Sharks teams since 2006, and also competed with our Open Dance Team (Foxy Sharks) since 2009. Maria has over 10 years experience of coaching and choreographing. Her favorite Premier memory is dancing in her leopard print two piece at our Corporate Retreat. A VERY interesting fact about Maria is that she worked with the Scottish cheerleaders and was awarded a medal from the Prime Minister!!

"BOOM!" - Maria

Staff Image of Sasha Gridnev

Sasha Gridnev

Girls Team Head Coach


Staff Image of Mackenzie Hucklebee

Mackenzie Hucklebee

Premier Athletics Dance Company Assistant Director


Staff Image of Kaylah Whaley

Kaylah Whaley

Assistant Academy Director | Assistant Trampoline & Tumbling Team Director

Kaylah has been tumbling at Premier since 2000, and started coaching at Premier around 2011. Her favorite Premier memory is when she represented Team USA and PAK in France, where she also took 3rd in the world!! Kaylah has also competed for Team USA 5 times in Canada, twice in Russia, France, and England!! She continues to make us proud with her athleticism and her knowledge that she shares daily with her own athletes.

"Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard"