Sports Spotlight: Cheerleading

by M. Scales, S. Fox, and I. Fishbough

Cheerleaders Grace McColgin and Sofia T.

We interviewed multiple cheerleaders here at Freedom High School to see what it is really like to be one of them. Grace McColgin is a Freshman cheerleader and she says her favorite thing about being a cheerleader is that, “It’s not just a team, it’s like a family, and we all get along so well.” Leticia Silva is a Junior Varsity cheerleader and another good thing about cheer she says is that before practice, you get about 30 minutes for them to do their homework. So they never have excuses like “I had cheer practice” to get out of doing their homework. Multiple cheerleaders said that they would definitely recommend being a cheerleader or at least trying out like Nyah Fuergson who explained how she would recommend it to incoming students.. From being a cheerleader, you can get scholarships and lots of other benefits, like a workout and meeting new people.

Cheerleading has also been said to be the most dangerous sport for female athletes. There have been cheerleaders who have had symptoms of a concussion during and practice or competition, and 37% of them never reported it. This is a dangerous activity for anyone who joins, and everyone should be made aware of the challenges before they dive in. In the year 2008 alone, there were close to 30,000 injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Between the years 1982 and 2008, there were 73 injuries relating to permanent spinal injury and paralysis, including two deaths. Most of the time, cheer coaches only have to pass an open-book safety test to gain certification to be a cheer coach, meaning they don’t even have to know the rules and regulations very well.

Lauren Chang and Ally Wakefield are two young females who have given so much to be cheerleaders, forcefully and willingly. Lauren was a 20-year-old cheerleader who died in 2008 at a cheer competition in Massachusetts from an incidental kick directly to the chest which caused her lungs to collapse. Ally is a 13-year-old incoming freshman who participated in a cheer camp in Denver of 2017. She was told, along with all of the girls at camp, that if they were not able to do the splits, they wouldn’t make it onto the team. Ally Wakefield was forced down into the splits being held down by several other girls, and the cheer coach forcing her to stay in the position by pressing her down by the shoulders. She was screaming in pain as her tissues were being torn, crying: “please stop, I can’t do it.” Ally has since then, injured muscles and ligaments in her groin area, as well her hamstring. She has to go to physical therapy two times a week and has to limit all physical activity. No one has been arrested, but Denver Public Schools have placed school system Deputy General Counsel Michael Hickman, Principal Andy Mendelsberg, Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, Cheer Coach Ozell Williams, and Assistant Cheer Coach Mariah Cladis on leave.

Cheerleading can be an enjoyable sport, but it can be dangerous too. Luckily, here at Freedom, our cheerleaders are looked after and are as safe as can be.