Is cheerleading a sport? Well, for purposes of Title IX in college athletics, the courts have ruled that cheerleading is not a sport. Is cheerleading an incredibly competitive athletic endeavor? Absolutely! That's why the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) is making cheerleading an important part of our athletic programs.
Far too often, some of our most courageous and talented athletes go unrecognized for their hard work on the sidelines. Cheerleaders, dance teams and pep squads have supported their schools' athletic teams and enhanced the experience of attending high school sporting events for many years. So, the LHSAA is proud to announce a revamped cheer, dance and pep squad program that will help bring attention to these skilled athletes.
Last September, the Association hosted a series of cheerleading rules clinics—the first time the LHSAA had ever done so. These clinics were designed to keep our members current with the ever-changing safety rules and procedures for these squads. The LHSAA's top priority for cheer and dance teams is to create the safest, most enjoyable atmosphere possible for our student-athletes.
This year, we introduce the Spirit Program in order to recognize and enhance the cheer and dance high school experience. There are four components to the program: the Spirit of Louisiana Award, the Coach of the Year Award, the Third Annual Coaches Clinic and the first LHSAA State Cheer and Dance Competition.
The Spirit of Louisiana Award recognizes the top all-around cheerleading programs in the state –those that exemplify community service, outstanding school athletic support, spirit raising activities and academics. The winner will be announced this month.
The Coach of the Year Award will be given at the cheer coaches' conference in Baton Rouge in January 2012. Every high school principal or athletic director can nominate his or her high school cheer coach for the Louisiana Coach of the Year Award. The deadline for submissions is Monday, December 12, 2011.
The Third Annual Coaches' Clinic is an educational session for Louisiana cheer coaches. The clinic is designed to increase safety awareness, provide network opportunities and stress the importance of leadership and sportsmanship. It includes a variety of workshops, a round table discussion and a chance to receive the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) safety certification. This clinic will be held on Wednesday, January 25, 2012.
And last but certainly not least, the LHSAA is excited to announce the first ever LHSAA State Cheer and Dance Competition, which will take place in December 2011. High school squads from around the state are invited to compete for titles and trophies. The competition is also a qualifier for UCA, UDA, NCA, and NDA Nationals competitions to be held later in the school year.
Kenny Henderson is the Executive Director of the LHSAA.