MHSAA says no to sideline cheerleading extra competitions

Published 12:47 am Tuesday, March 14, 2006

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The Niles High School sideline cheerleading squad has represented its school and hometown very well over the years at various cities and states all over the United States.
Viking cheerleading coach Katie Paquette has had the pleasure of taking her squads to some of the toughest cheerleading competitions around.
Throughout her coaching career, Paquette has made around 12 national appearances with her squads, even bringing home a second place trophy in 1997 and a fourth place trophy in 2003.
"We have never finished lower than sixth place,” Paquette said.
Which is excellent, considering that Niles has competed against some of the best schools in the nation.
If you've ever checked out the trophy case at the high school or have visited the athletic office, you've probably seen numerous trophies from the teams accomplishments over the years.
Unfortunately, all of the fun, excitement, preparation and big trophies have come to an end.
The MHSAA has decided that no sideline cheerleading team will be able to compete in events such as these anymore. Only the competitive cheer teams will be able to cheer at competitions.
Niles Athletic Director John Danaher also agreed that he's not happy to see it go.
Why the changes?
For the last 10 years, the Board of Directors at the MHSAA has looked at the differences between the competitive cheer team and sideline cheer.
The board decided that there was enough interest within the state to set the policy that the only cheer format acceptable is competitive cheer.
Especially since competitive cheer is governed by the state and is considered a sport. Sideline cheer, however, is not. There are no regional or state competitions and it is not considered a sport.
One reason the state chose to not allow sideline cheerleaders to compete in competitions was the fact that the teams work year round.
Tryouts are held right after the winter sports season ends. The teams then work during the summer months and cheer during the fall and winter sports seasons.
Another reason was that in some cases, sideline cheerleading teams were also competing as competitive cheer teams. Or some of the same girls were cheering for both squads, meaning they were putting in extra work and cheering for two different teams.
What's the difference between the two anyway?
The confusing thing with schools, such as Niles, is that people know that the sideline team also competes in various competitions throughout the year and they can‘t understand why the two are so different.
Competitive cheer teams compete during the winter months and consist of 8-16 members, which compete in 8-10 competitions through the winter sports season.
The team will do a combination of cheer, dancing and tumbling against other schools in the area and are scored based on their performances. As with any sport, competitive cheer has regional and state finals at the end of the season.
Sideline cheer is a squad that focuses on spirit and sportsmanship at games and engage in limited, if any, actual competition.
The team cheers from the sidelines at sporting events held in the fall and winter seasons and are there to keep the fans and players fired up.
What's next?
While the competitive cheerleaders can go about their normal routines, the sideline cheerleaders will not. Paquette said that her sideline team will still do exhibitions and perform shows at halftime, but she admitted that it will not be the same.
The team can, however, join a club or form one of their own, which would allow them to compete at these competitions and still cheer at games. They just cannot associate themselves with Niles High School, meaning they can't wear the schools uniforms.
If and when that happens, the sideline cheerleaders can continue to compete.
But Danaher said there is something that can be done about this.