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Competitive, stunt cheer teams officially become sports this year

From+left+to+right%2C+sideline+cheerleaders+Samantha+Fredrickson%2C++Isabelle+Yoo%2C+and+Taylor+Craig+perform+at+the+first+rally.+
From left to right, sideline cheerleaders Samantha Fredrickson,  Isabelle Yoo, and Taylor Craig perform at the first rally.

From left to right, sideline cheerleaders Samantha Fredrickson, Isabelle Yoo, and Taylor Craig perform at the first rally.

Photo by Daniel Pan

Photo by Daniel Pan

From left to right, sideline cheerleaders Samantha Fredrickson, Isabelle Yoo, and Taylor Craig perform at the first rally.

Anne Syed, Staff Writer

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The long-running debate if cheerleading is really a sport has finally been decided.

Cal High  has adopted  Assembly Bill 949, known as the California High Schools Expanding Equality Respect and Safety Act (C.H.E.E.R.S), officially recognizing competitive and stunt cheer as a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sports this year.

“We aren’t just preppy little girls,” said sophomore competition and sideline cheerleader Tara Ruschell. “Everyone says that cheer isn’t a sport and then I have to fight for my side and say that cheer is a sport and we work hard for what we do.”

A few changes are being brought to the cheer program. Because of the new CIF regulations, cheer has to be broken down into different programs with separate seasons. Sideline cheer, competitive cheer and stunt are all separated into different teams.

Sideline cheer makes sure that the fans are always excited during the fall season. It is the only team that is not considered an official sport by the CIF.    

Competitive cheer is the largest division of cheer and performs year round against other teams. During the spring, stunt cheer perfects six different levels of routines. 

“I like it better because you can try out for the team you want to be on,” said junior stunt cheerleader Annalin Roepken.

Since this is the first year there are different divisions, Coach Gabrielle Lucatero mentioned that competitive cheer would be more “rigorous” and “cut-throat.”

The battle to make the team as a cheerleader was evident during tryouts.

“The tryouts [were] really intense,” said sophomore Maddie Perry, noting that three girls quit during tryouts.

More experienced cheerleaders are also beginning to consider practicing the sport at school.

“Everyone’s taking it more seriously,” said JV sideline cheerleader Annaka Lee. “It’s getting more competitive since some All Star cheerleaders are beginning to join.”

Aside from the competition, the girls are glad that cheer is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Cal’s cheerleaders have been competing for years, but many have been frustrated because they felt that less credit was given to the coaches’ and the girls’ hard work. 

The cheerleaders’ expectations have also increased this year in the eyes of coaches Gabrielle Lucatero and Bianca Lucatero, who are also sisters.

“It’s very exciting that the girls are getting recognized as athletes after all this time because they work really hard and put just as much physical activity and exertion,” said Gabrielle Lucatero.

She also mentioned that the preparation for competitions consumed many of the girls’ time and efforts.

“It definitely deserves to be a sport,” said junior sideline cheerleader Megann Swiers. “It’s almost like gymnastics but you have to be stronger to lift other girls up.” 

Although cheerleading didn’t have the title of a “sport” next to its name in previous years, most cheerleaders have treated their passion as one. 

“I’m happy that cheer is officially a sport, because when people say cheer isn’t a sport I can say it is because it’s just as vigorous and has the same mentality as other sports.” said junior sideline cheerleader Kaitlin Van. 

Although cheer is technically a sport, it is questionable whether the public will see it as one. 

“I honestly doubt it,” said junior sideline cheerleader Megann Swiers.  “People are still going to say it’s not a sport but we’ll just ignore it.”

Cheer finally came through as a sport after years with the hard work of Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego).  

As a cheer coach, Gonzalez created the C.H.E.E.R.S. Act to give a safer structure during practice with organized coach training. This act will make cheer safer for pursuing student athletes. 

“With the C.H.E.E.R.S. Act, California high schools will help student athletes overcome old stereotypes that are risking their health and safety and provide them the respect that all students who compete in sports deserve,” Gonzalez told USA Today.    

Many cheerleaders have hopes that they will finally be recognized for their hard work. They hope to receive more opportunities and scholarships in the future. 

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The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Competitive, stunt cheer teams officially become sports this year