Northwood’s cheerleaders have been putting in a lot more pep in their training this year, as competitive cheerleading will now be recognized as a CIF sport.
In October of 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 949, which agreed to recognize cheer as a CIF sport starting from the 2017-2018 school year. Since then, the CIF has been working to create rules, guidelines and safety standards that would work in accordance to cheer and the school year.
“Cheerleading becoming a CIF sport is long overdue. It is one of the most difficult, dangerous and competitive sports out there and is not recognized for its uniqueness,” senior Marina Graham said. “If stunting looks easy to the audience then that means we are doing it right. If actually attempted, it is harder than it appears. I hope that other sports and students grow to respect cheerleading for what it is.”
Until this year, most schools’ cheer programs practiced sideline cheerleading, which is what many see at football and basketball games. Sideline cheerleading is typically made up from elements of gymnastics, dance and stunting whereas competitive cheer, while including these elements, will have schools compete head to head. Northwood already prepares for both of these, as they already compete in statewide competitions.
“I think it’s great that we are starting to compete against other schools in our district,” senior Claire O’Connor said. “We usually compete against teams from out of town so it will be more exciting now that we have a stronger rivalry with the local schools.”
Competitive cheer will join the spring season, along with baseball, softball, swimming, track and field, boys volleyball, boys tennis, boys golf and lacrosse. Practices for cheerleading are currently focused on perfecting cheers and halftime or timeout routines for football and basketball season, but when the spring season approaches, they will shift their focus towards the more competitive events.
“Come out and support all of us in cheer,” senior Rachel Gutkin said. “We have a tough season ahead of us, so we would love to see all the t-wolves come out and defend the den!”