The La Serna Cheer Team competes
Mission Viejo High School

No cheers for cheerleaders — CIF limits California cheer on Sundays

Elena Klock, English teacher, pepster advisor, and cheer coach at La Serna High School for over 15 years, has just witnessed a huge change that has been imposed by CIF to her cheer team. She is planning on fighting this huge CIF-inflicted change with a proposal that will be voted on April 5.

This change that CIF has put upon Klock’s cheer team, along with all other high school sports teams in California, has to do with CIF’s no play on Sunday rule. This rule did not affect cheerleading teams in California until three years ago, when cheerleading became a part of CIF.

This rule states that no high school sports team’s under CIF are allowed to practice, play, or organize as a team in any sort on Sundays. This rule has been around for ages but it inflicts upon a huge cheer competition, causing many California high schools with competitive cheer teams to protest this rule.

High schools that have cheer teams that compete in Traditional Competitive Cheer (TCC) have a goal of making it to the National High School Cheerleading Championships (NHSCC) which takes place at the Walt Disney ESPN World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, during a weekend in February.

This huge competition is the culminating event of the cheer season for all high school cheer teams that participate in traditional competitive cheer and it is the one chance for high school cheer teams to receive a national ranking and for individual cheerleaders to receive attention, potential scholarship money, and other connections from college cheer coaches.

However, because this event lands on a Sunday, the cheerleading teams from all California high schools that made it to the NHSCC were not allowed to compete on the Sunday Final and instead had one chance for a video performance that would instead be played during the Sunday Final.

However, the problems with doing a video instead of actually being able to compete are huge. For one, the video is taken on a Saturday, the day before the competition, and the cheerleaders competing get less time to rest and prepare than the cheerleaders that perform on Sunday.

Secondly, performing in front of a video camera doesn’t give cheerleaders the same feel that they get while performing in front of a live audience. Some teams, including Klock’s La Serna team, were only given one video for their semifinals and finals performance, making it unfair for them because they were not given another shot to correct errors and have another chance for a better finals performance.

Finally, the judges were able to scrutinize and watch the video several times, whereas they could only watch the live performances one time, causing them to maybe miss a few errors that the live performances had, but not missing any of the errors that La Serna or other California Schools that had to submit a video had.

All of these problems could be solved if the California teams were able to perform on Sunday with the rest of the teams. That is why Klock started a proposal for a one-day waiver that lets her team compete during this one Sunday on the NHSCC.

Klock deliberates on how “angry, frustrated, and heartbroken,” that she and her entire team felt while watching the video and remarked that, “The moment of watching our team on videotape was probably the most difficult thing as a coach.”

She is pushing so hard for this proposal because she knows how hard her cheer team works and it is unfair for some of her cheerleaders to miss out on their final performance and potential scholarship money and other connections because CIF will not excuse them for one Sunday.

One such student is Hannah Wyhowanec, a senior and four-year member of the La Serna cheer team who still tears up when talking about having to watch the video at the NHSCC.

On having to perform in front of a video camera, Wyhowanec said, “It’s not going out to compete like we’re used to.”

Wyhowanec was looking forward to competing at the NHSCC her entire senior year but all that she can remember is her mom in tears at her final competition because she couldn’t watch her daughter compete live one last time. 

Klock’s proposal for a one-day excusal has gained widespread attention, getting published by the OC Register and several other news sources. Many other athletic directors and cheer advisors have also provided support, and Klock and others are trying to educate the athletic directors and principals that don’t know about her cause so that when the time comes to vote on her proposal, she will get a majority vote.

If she is able to get a majority vote, this proposal will go to the state for a final ruling. If this final ruling then does pass, California Cheer teams that compete in TCC can be excused for this one Sunday if they make the NHSCC.

This is clearly very important to cheer teams in California, but this paramount decision could cause tumult to CIF. It could create disorder to CIF because if cheer can start getting to compete on a Sunday then they will be faced with a tough decision when asked why they aren’t letting other sports also compete on Sundays. Additionally, this ruling (if favored), could also cause a domino effect, with more and more people asking CIF for leniency to compete on Sundays.

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