The debate has been going on for as long as cheerleaders have been competing in nationwide competitions. Even with cheerleading evolving to the point where the cheerleaders experience injuries similar to that of the athletes, the debate still continues and the jury is still out. Is cheerleading a sport?
If you ask the cheerleading team at Cater High School in Rialto, the answer is an
emphatic YES. Cheerleading is a sport, without question, but several others have a different opinion when asked the same question. However, if you look up the definition of the word Sport in the dictionary, it describes exactly what cheerleaders do, even more than a football player or any other type of athlete; except for maybe golf.
Most people on the other side of the argument refer to cheerleading as an activity or a recreational event, because people who play sports are athletes and people who cheer are cheerleaders. That makes for a very good point, until you look up the text definition of the word athlete and athletics, and once again it makes the cheerleaders’ argument a lot more credible.
The Carter cheerleading team is made up of two squads, the Varsity team and junior varsity team, similar to many of the sports on campus that have varsity and junior varsity teams as well. The varsity team consists of 17 members, both male and female, who regularly cheer at most of the athletic events both home and away, and they regularly compete in cheer competitions as well. The 13-member junior varsity team just about keeps the same rigorous schedule.
The only difference between sports teams and cheerleading teams at Carter High School is that the cheerleaders participate in their events with no help or financial support from the school, while most the other sports programs receive some type of funding or support.
“I don’t see how people can say cheerleading is not a sport. We do the same thing the other sports do; we compete, we practice, we train, we condition. Since we do all the things the other sports do we should get the same benefits,” said senior Breanna Tillman, the varsity cheer captain at Carter High.
In addition to cheering for the other sports teams on campus these young ladies go much further. They spread cheer throughout the community and attempt to give hope to the hopeless, as well as mentor youth in the community. Some of the community activities the young ladies take part in include volunteering with the Candlelight Cancer Foundation, spending time reading to young cancer patients, participating in cancer and leukemia walks, helping to bring more awareness to breast cancer during National Breast Cancer Month. They hold a study hall on campus as well as mentor and tutor youth. They recently walked in the Rialto Christmas Parade, and during the holidays they go Christmas Caroling at Loma Linda University Medical Center. They do all these community activities while representing the school, cheer at the other sports events, maintain a 2.5 grade point average or better and win cheer competitions, but get no support financially or otherwise from the school. That alone should say a lot about their love and dedication to being a cheerleader.
Carter’s varsity cheer co-captain, Morgan Scholtz, is extremely proud of the hard work and dedication the young ladies put in to being cheerleaders. In fact out of all the sports programs on campus cheerleading tends to be one of the most successful.
“We work hard to get ready for the season. We have to be well conditioned and have good physical strength to do the stunts and routines we do. You have to be strong to be the base of the pyramid. We put in just as much time in our sport as other athletes do in theirs, if not more,” said Scholtz.
Some of the success the Carter cheer team can boast of is placing first and second at JAMZ Coaster Classic competition in 2010 and being invited to compete in the JAMZ national competition in Las Vegas in February 2011. They have also won some competitions in the past; however, the young ladies can’t admire their accomplishments because the award-winning trophies are not on display at the school.
“We are all proud of these young ladies. They put their all into the cheer program to make it a success. If we were able to get support from the school they could do even more positive things in the community and on campus,” said the Booster Club board members. “The Cheerleading Booster Club and parents play a big role in helping to organize fundraisers and travel arrangements for the competitions and other events,” added Charlene Cannon, Booster Club President.
All of the financial burden of entering competitions, travel to competitions as well as room and board falls on the cheerleading team, Booster Club and parents. However, through hard work and dedication they find a way to get it done. The cheerleaders also have to buy their own uniforms and fund their basic events, which is over $1,000 for varsity and over $800 for the junior varsity program.
When you hear the passion and excitement in the cheerleaders’ voices when they talk about their competing and being a part of the team, their enthusiasm is no different than a basketball or football player. They get the same rewarding feeling and a greater sense of self-confidence. Regardless of how the administration feels towards cheerleaders and competitions, this is a very rewarding experience for the young ladies.
“Being a part of the cheerleading team has taught me a lot and helped me in a number of ways. Because we do this without support from the school it has taught me to persevere and stand on my own, it has helped me interact with different people, and as captain it has helped me become more assertive and outspoken,” said Tillman. If you ask any athlete how participating in a sports program has helped him, he’ll probably give a similar answer.
Just like football, basketball, baseball programs or any other sports program that often have youth camps to teach younger kids the basic fundamentals of the sports so they can be better prepared when they begin to compete, the cheerleaders hold similar youth camps. The cheerleaders at Carter host a mini Cub Camp for area elementary school age children, and they teach them the basic fundamentals of cheering, so they too can be prepared when they begin to compete.
“How could golf be considered a sport and not cheerleading when cheering requires more conditioning and involves more physical activity? If you take the ball and club away from golf, all you have is walking, so if that’s a sport cheerleading should be a sport too,” said Tillman.
No matter which side of the debate you are on, you have to agree these young ladies deserve credit and support for all their hard work and dedication they show towards cheerleading, the community and the other sports they cheer for, win or lose.
SO, LET’S GIVE IT UP FOR THE CARTER HIGH CHEERLEADERS!.