Cheerleader advisors (l-r) Julie Weeks, West Union High School, and Sally Anderson, North Adams High School, address the Adams County/Ohio Valley school board Monday evening concerning mounts and the possibility of changes to board policy. - Carleta Weyrich/The People’s Defender
Adams County school board has concerns for safety of cheer squads Cheer advisors say training is the key
The door is open to discussion between cheerleader advisors and the Adams County/Ohio Valley School Board concerning mounts and other stunts performed by cheerleaders at games and in competition. The discussion dominated the board's meeting Monday evening at the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center, along with recognition for cheerleaders from West Union, and for the school board for School Board Recognition Month.
The key elements in the cheerleading discussion at the meeting were training and competition versus injury and liability.
"There is no bench in cheer leading, everybody is important to the team," said Sally Anderson, cheer leading advisor at North Adams High School.
Anderson and Julie Weeks, West Union High School, told the board that they abide by the district's regulations on pyramids and mounts in cheer leading as established in April 1986. There have been no long term injuries to cheerleaders in the district due to the safety measures used in the cheer leading program through proper training, they said.
"The students are taught not only how to mount, but also what to do if someone is dropping," Weeks said.
During the meeting, the West Union junior high and senior high cheer leading squads were each recognized for taking first place at the Fairfield Invitational Cheerleading Competition.
"We ask you not to take this away from the student athletes," Anderson said.
Board member Kent Bauman said he was concerned after seeing the cheerleaders performing at the school basketball games.
"The main focus is the safety of the students involved," said Superintendent Rodney Wallace. "If we allow the moves to get more and more risky, eventually something is going to happen."
He cited the recommendation of the Ohio High School Athletic Association that cheerleaders stay on the ground, and that the catastrophic insurance policy covers cheer leading only if the cheering is done on the sidelines.
Board President Michael Hughes quoted the statistic that of all female activities, including volleyball, basketball, soccer and swimming, cheer leading represents 65 percent of the serious accidents in Ohio.
"No amount of insurance or liability can replace a student that has been permanently injured," he said.
The current district policy limits pyramids and mounts in regular season in height to only one elevated level, and only with the use of spotters. OHSAA prohibits cheerleaders from performing pyramids and mounts in AHSAA tournaments. Also included in the policy is "any squad not regularly involved in national, state, and/or local cheer leading competitions will not employ pyramids and/or mounts in regular season contests. The advisor of each squad will not attempt to teach, or permit the squad to perform, any routine deemed, in the advisor's judgment, to be beyond his of her level of training and/or experience to instruct."
Cheerleading tryouts will be held in March, according to Wallace, and the discussion needs to happen before that time, he said.