Ever since competitive Jacksonville cheerleading began in 1980, it has exploded to become one of the most well recognized sports in the world. It began its own culture, and even kids from the 1990s and the 2000s followed the trend. Hollywood movies are made about cheerleading competitions. If you think Field of Dreams was truly emotional, you can check out some cheerleading movies, too, that showed the struggle to emerge victorious amid various odds.
Competitive cheerleading is as tough as other sports. There’s no cheerleader who’ll tell you they have it easy over there. They have to train as hard as other athletes, and they have to maintain a great physique to be able to do everything on the mat.
All cheerleaders–whether they are a part of a competitive squad or not–have to undergo training. This will keep their bodies to being in top shape, and will help them not to be rusty when the performance time comes. In University of Maryland, cheerleaders train seven days a week. Yes, that includes all the holidays we enjoy with our families. They do strength-training three times a week, then practice the actual tumblings and stunts for four evenings (three hours each). Each squad and each school will have different schedules for their cheerleaders. Most of these are rigid and strict.
If you don’t want to be a part of a school team, but wants to be a cheerleader competitively, you can join an all-star cheerleading squad. That’s the term used for teams that are created purely for competition, and are not associated with any school or community. The US All-Star Federation is an organization that manages and handle cheerleading competitions. They are the one that set up guidelines, regulations, and safety measures for cheerleaders. They also announce rulings on conducts when there are incidences on the competition floor.
Competitive cheerleading is divided into groups–differs by age and by stunt level. Each group’s level will be based on their experience in competitions and performances. The minimum number of members for each squad is five while the maximum is set at 24 or 36. The divisions for competitions are as follows: Tiny Cheer (5 years and younger), Mini Cheer, Youth Cheer, Junior Cheer, and Senior Cheer. These groups are sub-divided into male and female divisions, although there is also a co-ed division.
Although cheerleading has only been recently semi-recognized as a sport, it is still not enough because it is not included yet in the Olympics. The Jacksonville cheerleading industry still has to prove itself to the Olympics committee that they are a true sports, and that they must be allowed to join the competition for an Olympic medal.
The road is still long, but cheerleaders are slowly getting there with hard work and perseverance.