Assistant Coach Probs.

Okay, one of the coaches that I work under is a know-it-all. The problem is that she knows very little. Basically, she’s one of the “problem coaches” that I think are a big factor behind all the cheer injuries out there. I’m surprised no one on our squad has gotten seriously hurt.

She can whip up amazing choreography like it’s nobody’s business and put a great stunt sequence together. The problem is her tumbling. Her tumbling experience ends at a round-off. Despite this, she thinks it’s okay to try to teach girls how to do back handsprings, tucks, and layouts. She also thinks she knows more about tumbling than me, even though I can actually tumble.

If I’m spotting a back handspring, she’ll try to give me pointers or ask me to move so that she can spot instead. Sure, that’s fine. What really kills me is that she encourages girls to throw tricks that they are not at all ready to do on their own. Because she doesn’t know how to tumble, she can’t recognize what is and is not good form. Even worse, a girl will barely have a back handspring with two strong spotters, and she’ll convince her that she can do it on her own. The girl will try it with no spots and fall flat on her face.

Every practice I’m waiting for one of these girls to snap a wrist or sprain their neck. I don’t understand what she thinks she’s doing. Even if these girls don’t get hurt, she’s scaring them half to death, so that they psych themselves out every time they try to throw a skill.

She’s a know-it-all and you can’t tell her anything she doesn’t already know. So, for now, the best I can do is follow behind her and clean up her mess.

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Cheer Discrimination in High Schools

I saw a news piece on cheerleading injuries last night on TV. The newscaster mentioned that 29 states’ high school athletic associations recognize cheerleading as a sport. My state is not one of them.

The high school I went to does not recognize cheerleading as a sport. It’s considered a “club.” Cheerleading is listed in the yearbook right between chess club and choir. Frankly, it’s insulting.

I have 3 big problems with this:

#1. Cheerleading is a sport (over half the states agree). Go watch a cheerleading practice and tell me otherwise. When you work hard and leave your sweat and blood on the mat every practice, it’s a complete slap in the face to be told that you aren’t “by definition” an athlete. According to the school, you’re no more an athlete than the kids in chess club. Ouch.

#2. If a state’s high school athletic association doesn’t consider cheerleading to be a sport, then there can’t be any safety procedures or limitations that are uniformly enforced. And until that happens, there will continue to be an absurd number of unnecessary cheerleading injuries.

#3. Because cheerleading isn’t technically a sport, the cheerleading program is treated like a nuisance by the schools. My younger sister is a varsity cheerleader at the high school I went to. She has to fundraise her butt off every season because the school provides absolutely zero funding to the cheerleading program.

We just had astro-turf installed on our football field—it cost over a million dollars and the football players didn’t have to fundraise for a single dollar of it. The cheerleaders had to fundraise for over a year to get enough money to buy themselves new practice mats. The old mats were crappy and unsafe. If a flyer fell on those mats, it would be no better than falling on the hardwood floor. When the school was asked if they would contribute any money, their response was “well, if the mats are unsafe, then don’t do any stunts.” Seriously?!

I mean, the examples here go on and on… If the softball team needs new equipment, the school pays; if the cheerleaders need new uniforms, they have to raise the money. If the volleyball team’s nets are looking a little ragged, the school pays; if the cheerleaders need new poms, they have to come up with the money. Not to sound like a crybaby, but it’s unfair and ridiculous.