Hooters waitress gains national spotlight after firing as Estero cheerleading coach

Scott McIntyre/Staff
Nicole Zivich chats with Sean Sype, a fellow coach, at Xtreme Air Sports in Bonita Springs on Wednesday. Zivich, who was fired from her job as  cheerleading coach at Estero High School for working at a Hooters Restaurant is coaching again at Xtreme Air Sports where she co-owns the cheerleading program.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Nicole Zivich chats with Sean Sype, a fellow coach, at Xtreme Air Sports in Bonita Springs on Wednesday. Zivich, who was fired from her job as cheerleading coach at Estero High School for working at a Hooters Restaurant is coaching again at Xtreme Air Sports where she co-owns the cheerleading program.

Nicole Zivich

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Nicole Zivich

Scott McIntyre/Staff 
 Nicole Zivich watches as her students practice their tumbling moves at Xtreme Air Sports in Bonita Springs on Wednesday. Zivich, who was fired from her job as  cheerleading coach at Estero High School for working at a Hooters Restaurant is coaching again at Xtreme Air Sports where she co-owns the cheerleading program.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Nicole Zivich watches as her students practice their tumbling moves at Xtreme Air Sports in Bonita Springs on Wednesday. Zivich, who was fired from her job as cheerleading coach at Estero High School for working at a Hooters Restaurant is coaching again at Xtreme Air Sports where she co-owns the cheerleading program.

Nicole Zivich says becoming an instant celebrity was overwhelming after she lost her job as the Estero High School cheerleading coach.

The media attention surrounding the November firing of Zivich reached national and international media outlets. The TV show "Inside Edition" and a British newspaper, The Daily Mail, reported on the firing of Zivich, a waitress at the Hooters in Naples. On Tuesday, she appeared on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show.

"It's not so surreal to me now, but it's been a little hectic," said Zivich of the media attention. " 'Inside Edition' came here and remodeled my living room like a studio. The show with Anderson was quite an experience. I never thought it would all go this far."

Zivich, 24, has now started her own all-star cheerleading team that will compete across the state in conjunction with Xtreme Air Sports, 28790 S. Diesel Drive, Bonita Springs. Thirty-five girls from Lee and Collier counties have signed up and she's holding tryouts for the Xtreme Air team on Sunday.

"The girls have always been my biggest supporters," Zivich said. "I never considered quitting. One door closed and another door opened. I wouldn't have had this opportunity if had I still been coaching at Estero."

Zivich was fired after one parent, Sue Jacobse, bombarded the Lee County School District with more than 200 emails complaining about everything from the cost of the uniforms to Zivich's handling of cheerleader safety. The emails also degraded her for working as a waitress at Hooters.

Eleven underclassmen quit cheering for Estero team to follow Zivich. Eight seniors also quit the high school squad, but participants more than 18 years old aren't eligible for the Xtreme Air Sports program. The exodus left only four cheerleaders on Estero's squad.

"A lot of girls quit after Nicole left," Estero freshman Tyler Jones said. "We just lost interest in cheering at the school all together. We'd much rather have Nicole has a head coach and cheer in a competitive program."

The Estero cheerleaders appeared at two separate Lee School Board meetings in November and expressed their support for Zivich. The board told the girls that they would get answers, but those answers never came. Both the cheerleaders and Zivich say the school district has not provided any explanation for why Zivich was fired.

"After they took Nicole away from us, I decided I didn't want to cheer there because it wasn't going to be the same," said Jocelyn Peppard, who was the captain of the Estero High School team. "At the first board meeting they told us we would get answers. We came back and they didn't have any. To this day they haven't told us why Nicole was fired."

There were no reprimands in Zivich's personnel file prior to her being fired as the Estero cheerleading coach. However, because Zivich was hired on a supplemental coaching contract, the contract can be non-renewed or revoked without cause, the district has said.

"The School Board and the superintendent will never admit why they fired me," Zivich said.

Lee schools Superintendent Joseph Burke and Jacobse were unavailable for comment. Estero High School administrators weren't immediately available for comment on the status of the cheerleading team or about Zivich.

Zivich said she was never asked by the School Board to give her side.

"I wrote Superintendent Burke a three-page email and he never responded," she said. "I was their employee. Why didn't they call me in? If they were so concerned with how I was influencing the kids in my program, why not talk to me about it?"

Zivich said it's time to move on.

"My focus is on making this program the best it can be for the girls," she said.

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Comments » 2

ratsnake writes:

Mrs. Jacobse should be feeling like a giant idiot right about now. I'm not sure who's dumber, she or the Lee County School Board who caved to her rantings. Way to destroy an entire cheerleadinging program for no reason. Grats to Nicole! It's your basic poetic justice at work.

JohnDoeNJ writes:

Here is some background reading on this woman:

http://naplespropertyblog.com/about/

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/article...

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/article...

http://www.facebook.com/susanjacobse

The orthodoxy today articles are pretty amusing. It seems like she'd fit in well in a nearby community named Ave Maria. I doubt she'd have to deal with the "indecency" of a cheerleading coach moonlighting as a Hooters waitress out there. Maybe she should consider moving; especially after all this negative attention. Based on the comments here, I don't think anyone would miss her.

This story is a great example of unintended consequences. Maybe Susan thought that waging a smear campaign against a seemingly nice cheerleading coach was a good idea at the time, but I doubt that's still the case. She failed miserably and seems to have negatively impacted her daughter in the process.

Kudos to the girls who quit the team to make a point. It delivered an effective message which I'm sure was heard loud and clear by those involved in making this mistake. Maybe they won't make the same mistake over something so trivial again.

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