Revised lettering system creates equality among dance, cheer squads

The cheerleading team’s lettering change was meant to create equality between the policies for cheer and dance.

Morgan Ferguson

The cheerleading team’s lettering change was meant to create equality between the policies for cheer and dance.

Olivia Ottman, Zach Gaskey, Writers

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After the previous cheer coaches left at of the end of the spring 2017 season, the decision was made that cheerleaders would no longer earn two cheer letters in one year, according to athletic director Ryan Harrington. However, days after the fall sports awards night, the decision was reviewed and both teams will now be given two varsity letters and be recognized as two-season sports.

Until this year, cheerleaders were the only sports team that allowed students to letter twice in one year, which some argued was unfair to other sports and clubs in which students letter only once at the end of the season. The Sapphires dance team has a season that is just as long as the cheerleaders’, but dancers have traditionally earned only one letter each year.

Olivia Ottman
The Sapphires dance team practices after school. Dancers now may earn a letter for each season.

At the end of the 2017 spring season, the cheer coaches and Harrington felt having both teams earn one letter would create equality between the teams.

Harrington said, “I (originally) agreed (to both teams earning one letter per year ) because now I’ve got equity between my dance, which has always been one letter, and [the cheerleaders] go to the winter awards… So it was two-fold.”

According to Harrington, former cheerleading coaches Alyssa Holloway and Kayla Evanich initially proposed a one letter system for cheer. Harrington approved it because it created equality among all sports teams that letter, and moved the cheerleaders’ awards night to winter, after most of their season is complete.

This fall, members of the cheerleading team expressed concern that they were no longer included in the fall sports awards night. Due to the length of their season, the team traditionally was recognized at the fall and winter sports awards nights, and girls could earn letters for each season. The cause of the cheerleaders’ emotional reaction to the change, Harrington said, was the result of a miscommunication between the former coach and last year’s squad.    

“The (former) coach expressed it in the incorrect way. (Cheerleaders) knew that they weren’t coming to the banquet, but she had expressed to them that they would still letter. So in order to honor her (wishes) and not throw her under the bus, we did give them letters, but they did not go to the awards ceremony (last year),” said Harrington.

Some cheerleaders maintain that cheer is a two season sport because cheerleaders perform in the football season, basketball season, and compete in competitions throughout the year. The team found out days after the fall awards night that a decision that was made that both the cheer and dance teams will be getting two letters going forward and will be recognized for both seasons. The cheerleaders received fall letters at a separate gathering on November 16. The Sapphires received their fall letters at practice.

“I don’t think (that the fact that we got two letters instead of one) will change anything. Giving the awards is not our aim or focus,” Sapphires head dance coach Jillian Dudek said. “It’s a nice reward.”

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