Competitive cheer banned week before performance


Claire Grunewald

The junior and senior cheerleaders stand in formation at the first home football game under the new lights against St. Paul’s. The team helped sophomore and patriot mascot Ashley Schwartz ask her date to homecoming. Cheerleaders are now limited to only sideline performances for football games after the decision to cut their competition routine.

On Sept. 28, just over one week away from their Oct. 6 performance, the cheerleading competition team was told by Athletic Director Steve Teter that they cannot practice or perform their routine.

According to cheerleaders, the team is no longer permitted to compete on its scheduled competitions dates of Oct. 6, Oct. 18, and Nov. 1. The cheerleaders will also not be performing their routine at the pep rally, the only time the team performs their competition skills in front of the entire school. However, they will be allowed to do some sort of performance.

“The girls aren’t allowed to stunt because we were told that there were too many safety concerns. There were a few injuries, however, not more than in previous years […] Competition cheerleading is a contact sport and accidents are bound to happen,” JV head coach Dawn Hoderfield said.

Some cheerleaders agree the competition team’s routine was too dangerous to keep practicing it and even expressed relief that the competition team was disbanded. “We were all really relieved, but we were a little upset that the season didn’t work out as well as we were hoping it would have,” senior cheerleader Brooke Vogel said.

A parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, agrees with the administrative decision. “I think [disbanding competitive cheer] was a good idea, and it was the only thing that the athletic department could’ve done at this point. The safety of the girls was at stake and they were getting a lot of injuries. Things were not being handled well in practices, so I feel this was the best decision that could have been made,” the parent said.

Another anonymous parent expressed sympathy for the cheerleaders and their competition season but is happy the cheerleaders are no longer in harm’s way. “I feel bad that the girls couldn’t continue with their season because they have always worked very hard,” the parent said.

Several team members and coaches acknowledged that the competition team’s disbandment was a loss to the team. “Sideline [cheerleading] is fun for the girls, but competition cheerleading is where the girls can really show off their athletic ability,” varsity head coach Lindsey Withrow said. “Our biggest disappointment is that the girls don’t get to show off their talents.”

Senior transfer cheerleader Lauren Karbler joined the team, hoping to compete. “I was attracted to the team because I hoped to continue my love for competitive cheerleading after my past experiences at other schools and grow closer with my new teammates through competition,” Karbler said.

“We’ve been preparing since Aug. 4, two hours a day, five nights a week for a two minute-thirty second routine,” Withrow said.

“[Practicing the routine has] been taking a lot of time from my schoolwork,” sophomore cheerleader Gabi Spilker said. According to Spilker, since school began, the team practiced for approximately 40 hours.

“As a cheerleader, that’s the only thing you really want to do […] Competition was the one thing you really looked forward to,” Spilker said.

It is unknown how long the competition team will not be allowed to compete. Both Teter and cheerleading moderator Jane Michael declined to comment.

Joe Kyburz is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and