Pressure was on as the girls ran into the gym. The crowd was cheering wildly for their favorite team. These athletes had been preparing for months for this very moment and their stomachs were filled with butterflies. Judges watched carefully as the squad performed a complicated routine of lifts, flips and complex synchronized motions. It was then time to find out the winners of the cheerleading competition.
Cheerleading is thought of by many as a club that only cheers on others, but now this activity is starting to become a true sport that is extremely competitive.
Over the years, cheerleading has changed dramatically, with more complex stunts, tumbles, and many competitions. Sue Soldini, a former cheerleader and parent of an AHN student, said, “Cheerleading has become increasingly dangerous since I was a cheerleader in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The stunts are much more difficult, the fliers are being tossed 10 feet or higher. When I was a cheerleader, fliers rarely left the safety of a base’s hands or shoulders.”
The modern stunts are not only dangerous but also require months of practice and extreme upper body strength.
Sheila Maguire, a former Holy Names cheerleader, commented, “The uniforms have changed from sweaters and saddle shoes that made it hard to move to breathable outfits you can do just about anything in.” Cheerleading is now a much more dangerous and competitive activity then it was during the 70s and 80s.
According to Carlo Cherubino, the athletic director at AHN, “In order for an activity to be considered a sport, the group must compete against other teams, involve physical activity, and practice.”
Cheerleading involves all three of these aspects. The AHN cheerleaders normally have games or practice five to six days a week. These practices involve conditioning, stunting, and tumbling with very little down time. According to Sue Soldini, “Cheerleaders now practice up to 10 hours a week, nine months a year and AHN has seven scheduled competitions this year.”
The competitions that the AHN cheerleaders are attending include three local, two state, one regional and one national competition. Now cheerleading can even be helpful to getting into colleges. Sheila Maguire said, “Hundreds of colleges now offer cheer scholarships and girls from Holy Names are applying for them.” Cheerleading is as much or even more of a commitment as most other sports at Holy Names.
Although cheerleading is not technically considered a sport at Holy Names, it is supported greatly by the AHN Booster Club. They pay almost all of the competition entrance fees which can cost hundreds of dollars per competition. The Booster Club also purchased a $900 mat that the cheerleaders use for tumbling and stunting. The cheerleaders are also invited to the fall and winter sports banquets and are treated the same as every other athlete. It appears that the AHN Booster Club is already considering cheerleading a sport.
As cheerleading continues to grow and change into a more competitive and complex activity, it will most likely soon become an official sport in the United States. This activity is become more dangerous with new stunts and tumbling. Cheerleading follows all of the guidelines for a sport with their difficult practices and many competitions that are made possible by the AHN Booster Club. These changes are quickly taking place and people are beginning to understand the athleticism involved with being a cheerleader.
Samantha Soldini is a freshman at Academy of the Holy Names