Off-ground cheerleading stunts allowed at the high school level

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High school cheerleaders in Nebraska are allowed to add some new moves to their routines this year. After over ten years of a "no stunting" policy for cheer teams across the state, the rules are now allowing it.

Amy Smith coaches the North Platte Varsity cheer squad, and said it is just one more reason to show everyone the athleticism it takes to be a cheerleader.

Members of the squad are excited to see the rules change, and say it's important to focus on safety.

"Just overcoming that fear of falling, but if you get close enough with the girls, you'll be okay," Ainsley Thimes, a sophomore cheerleader, said.

"I was on an All-Star cheer team in 8th grade, and I was able to stunt then, and it was a great experience, so being able to have stunting now is really awesome," Thimes said.

Coach Smith said they are starting out very simple this year.

"I went to a coaches clinic where I had to take a class, and then I had to take a test to be certified in order to be a cheer coach that has stunting in their school," Coach Smith said.

The Bulldog cheer squad traveled to Colorado to attend a stunt clinic to learn how to safely execute these new moves.

Bailey Smith is a sophomore at North Platte High School, and said they have practiced stunting on the wrestling mats to ensure their safety while improving their skills as a team.

"At camp, we all learned the basics, and then when we bring it back home, we just work on it more and more," Bailey Smith said.

Stunts are not allowed to go above shoulder height, and in a few years, regulations may be modified so squads can practice more difficult lifts.

"That's the most important, in kind of starting from very simple stunts now, going up to more difficult stunts," Coach Smith said.

The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators say they plan to bring stunting back progressively to keep it as safe as possible.

"I became a cheerleader not ever knowing that we would have to stunt, and so I think it's just a great opportunity," Bailey Smith said.

Coach Smith said she has noticed that the sideline stunting has helped generate more school spirit.

"Even at our pep assembly, the kids got really excited," Coach Smith said. "I don't think a lot of people knew it was coming, so it was just something new and different."