Cheerleaders: Off the Sidelines and Onto the Mat

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Doug Sprague

Franklin High School’s JV cheerleading team. But have those pom-poms been put to use?

Amanda Wylie, Writer

Cheerleaders. The word conjures up images of perky girls waving their pom-poms on the sidelines of a football game. While raising spirit at sports events is certainly still an aspect of cheerleading, the activity has evolved considerably. At many schools, including Franklin High, cheer teams are more focused on their own competitions than entertaining at games.

“We haven’t cheered at any football games yet,” says JV cheerleading captain Lanie Bond. “We don’t really have time to since our practices are 100% dedicated to our competition routine.”

So, has cheerleading evolved enough to be considered a sport? It’s time to set the record straight.

Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another.”

Modern-day cheerleaders attend competitions at local, regional, state, and even national levels. This places cheerleading firmly under the label of “sport.”

In terms of “skill,” competitive cheer has five major components: tumbling, stunting, jumps, pyramid, and motions/dance. What do each of these categories entail?

  • Tumbling: Gymnastics passes done from a standstill, out of a jump, or with a running lead up. Includes skills such as back handsprings, back tucks, layouts, fulls, and more.
  • Stunting: A flyer performs a skill while being held in the air by one or more bases.
    Rachel Bond
    A snapshot of the pyramid in Franklin’s JV cheerleading routine. JV won first place at the Marlborough Invitational last weekend.
  • Jumps: Athletes propel themselves off the floor in order to hit a variety of flexibility requiring positions.
  • Pyramid: A series of several stunts in which flyers are connected.
  • Motions/Dance: In unison, cheerleaders hit sharp movements

If you are interested in seeing all of these elements come together to make a full routine, Franklin High School will be hosting an invitational cheer competition on Sunday, November 3. Stay tuned for more information.