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Cheerleading becomes a high school sport at area campuses

October 26,2017 01:40

In addition, cheerleaders in the Shasta Union High School District can now earn PE credits for the time they put in at practice and game performances. Students in stunt cheerleading, one of the three cheer programs unanimously approved as a sport ...

Mike Chapman, Record Searchlight Published 5:32 p.m. PT Oct. 25, 2017

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The Shasta Union High School District Board of Trustees has approved cheerleading as a sport for its four high schools: Shasta, Enterprise, Foothill and U-Prep. Wochit

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Cheerleaders at four Redding-area high schools have something new to cheer about.
Their activity has been elevated from club status to a sport on par with football, volleyball and basketball.
In addition, cheerleaders in the Shasta Union High School District can now earn PE credits for the time they put in at practice and game performances. Students in stunt cheerleading, one of the three cheer programs unanimously approved as a sport Tuesday night by the district's Board of Trustees, also may qualify for scholarships.
"This is a huge thing," said Anne Baxter, the Shasta High School cheerleading adviser, a math teacher and a former Shasta cheerleader herself.
"It's something that we've been pushing for — fighting for — for years and it's really exciting to have it finally come to fruition," Baxter said.
The change got rolling in October 2015 when Gov. Brown approved Assembly Bill 949 that classified competition cheer as a sport regulated by the California Interscholastic Federation, beginning in the 2017-18 school year. 

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Shasta High cheer varsity captain Jaycee Ford, left, talks with other members of her squad Tuesday during practice at their school.
 (Photo: Greg Barnette/Record Searchlight)

Jaycee Ford, a Shasta High senior who's been cheerleading all four years of high school, said the move is "a really big step for us."
"All of our hard work will be noticed as a sport because for the past years, we've been known as a club," she said.
The new recognition brings the same requirements as other high school sports.
"They'll (cheerleaders) be held to the same standards as other athletes," Milan Woollard, associate superintendent of instructional services, said at the district board meeting Tuesday.
At Shasta High School, for example, cheerleaders need to maintain a grade-point average of 2.0 or higher with a one-time waiver over four years' time, Baxter said.
Going forward, cheerleaders will be subject to random drug testing and have to follow transfer guidelines.
"In the past you could cheer at another school. Now that's gone," Woollard said.
The world of high school cheerleading is more intricate than many would imagine. Traditional competitive cheer (a winter sport) and stunt (for spring) are both sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation. Both were approved by the Shasta district board along with the current sideline cheer (fall and winter), which isn't recognized as a sport by CIF. Sideline cheerleading is the most visible activity, the one spectators see at football and basketball games.
Boys will be able to try out for the coed competitive cheer and sideline, but not stunt, which involves jumps, twirling and other precision moves.

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Enterprise High School cheerleaders get ready to take the field Friday night before the River Bowl. The Shasta Union High School District board Tuesday night approved cheerleading as a sport for its four high schools: Shasta, Enterprise, Foothill and U-Prep.
 (Photo: Greg Barnette/Record Searchlight)

Look for the district's four high schools — Shasta, Enterprise, Foothill and U-Prep — to one day host CIF-sanctioned cheerleading competitions.
"You might bring eight schools to a gym on a Saturday and narrow it down to the best team," Woollard said.
The schools already have sent eligible cheerleading squads to out-of-area competitions. Baxter said Shasta High School previously placed in the Top 5 twice in the nationals.
Tim Azevedo, superintendent of the Anderson Union High School District, said West Valley High School is looking into stunt cheerleading as a spring sport and Anderson is close to making a sport out of sideline.
"I think it's a good thing. They (cheerleaders) work hard and they're athletes," Azevedo said.
While Azevedo says cheerleading competition is huge in Southern California, it's so new as a North State sport that it still lacks structure, such as leagues and guidelines.
"It's been a long time coming," Woollard said Wednesday. "I'm excited for the students. This is another great way to give them a better high school experience."
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