University ban on cheerleading stunt may hurt chances at national competition

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    Because the university prohibits TCU’s cheerleading squad from performing a specific stunt, the squad feels its chances to advance at this week’s National Cheerleading Association national competition will be hurt, the squad’s captain said.

    TCU cheerleading captain Ellie Spencer said cheer squad members were very excited to go to nationals for the first time in years but worried they will not place because they are unable to use basket tosses in their routines.

    Basket tosses are stunts in which one cheerleader, known as the flyer, is thrown into the air and is caught by team members on the ground, Spencer, a senior strategic communication major, said.

    “I know our team has the talent to make it to finals, but the fact that we aren’t allowed to do basket tosses, which is eleven points of our final score, will be the reason we don’t,” Spencer said.

    Director of Athletics Media Relations Mark Cohen said due to health and safety concerns the TCU cheerleading guidelines prohibit the use of basket tosses.

    Spencer said TCU will not let the squad perform with basket tosses because it is dangerous and could hurt members of the squad.

    Senior strategic communication major Courtney Collings said, “The university Athletics Department is basically handicapping us from placing well because they won’t let us throw basket tosses.”

    Spencer said to be approved to go to nationals and receive a bid, cheerleading teams have to either go to the National Cheerleading Association camps and perform a routine or send in a video to the NCA showing their skill set.

    Lindsay Shoulders, the squad’s head coach, said after it submitted an audition video, the squad will go to nationals for the first time in a few years and will compete along with 277 squads. The audition video consisted of filmed segments of stunts, running tumbling, standing tumbling, jumps and pyramids, Shoulders said.

    At the four-day competition, the squad will specifically compete against 10 other teams in the All-Girls 1A Division, Shoulders said. The squad will practice today and then compete Thursday through Sunday in Daytona, Fla.

    “It is an honor to do something we have not done in five years,” she said. “It is an honor for me as a coach and for the girls.”

    In preparation for nationals, the team has had additional practices since the fall along with its normal schedule.

    Shoulders said the squad held tryouts in January to fill four new spots for nationals.

    Leading up to the event, squad members spent the first few days of spring break having two-a-days and then performed at Southern Methodist University in the Daytona Nationals Preview over the weekend with other colleges, which included Stephen F. Austin, Oklahoma State University and Trinity Valley, she said.

    Shoulders said along with extra practices, the squad has been fundraising for the competition and has raised about $15,000 to pay for transportation, living and NCA fees.

    Collings said the squad held cheer camps throughout the year to raise the money. It also asked people to donate, and it held events at Old Rip’s and received a percentage of the restaurant’s daily sales.

    Spencer said all teams compete Thursday to try to make the finals on Friday. On Saturday, each squad splits and forms new squads, showing off their talents and skill levels on the beach, she said. The events on Saturday are not for any awards.

    Shoulders said the squad does a game-day oriented cheer at the beginning of its routine and then once the music starts, the routine is filled with a multitude of skills within a two-minute time period.