Eleanor Hohenberg, Reporter

This year at Burroughs, another sport will be introduced and available for all high schoolers to participate in: cheerleading. But the sport is not new, as cheerleading has been present for decades now, but as an extracurricular. When history teacher Sara Jay was asked to help coach during the fall of 2017, cheerleaders expressed interest in learning stunts, and Jay happily met with a few sophomores (now seniors) during their lunch periods to practice. By the time the fall preseason rolled around in 2018, every cheerleader was involved with stunting, which necessitated an increase in effort, time, and physical exertion for both cheerleaders and their coaches. With this development, many members of the cheer squad had to manage the heightened commitment to cheerleading as well as 2-3 hours of practice for the fall sport that they earned a sports credit for, thus prompting the push to make cheerleading an official sport.

Jay summarized the cheer squad’s effort and reasons for turning cheerleading into an official sport: “The cheerleaders wanted their hard work and dedication to the program to be recognized… When they looked at the mission statement of the JBS athletic department, they made a clear case for how their program met all of those ideals.” Jay continued, noting that as members of the JBS cheerleading squad, they were practicing just as many hours as other school recognized sports on top of participating in other sports. Advocates for the sport wrote letters to the administration explaining their position, and their coaches put together a proposal for what a competitive cheerleading program would look like.

Now for the first time ever at Burroughs, students can earn a sports credit when they participate in the cheer squad, which will include participating in cheerleading competitions. This change may affect current cheerleaders differently, as some want to continue to play their fall sport as well as cheer at the pep rally and football games. The solution is to “grandfather in” any cheerleaders in the class of ‘21 and above, meaning that they do not need to choose between the fall sport they previously competed in and cheer, and these cheerleaders can participate in both by cheering at a noncompetitive level (a modified version of this option will be available to younger cheerleaders).

This upcoming season looks promising for the squad. Two of the teams’ captains offered supportive comments on this shift into a true sport. Alexis Falkner (‘20) said, “I know it’s a big change for cheer to go from girls wearing their sunglasses on the sidelines to it actually becoming a sport. However, because of how much energy and dedication it now requires, I think it is time for cheer to receive the recognition it deserves.” Emory Sigmund (‘20) added, “I am confident that the work the members are about to put in will totally pay off!”