KSHSAA penalizes cheer program for illegal stunts during performance

After a performance at the Sweetheart assembly Thursday Feb. 8, KSHSAA announced penalties on the cheer program for illegal stunts.


Lauren Kauth

The Blue Valley Northwest cheer program was investigated Friday by KSHSAA for their performance at the Sweetheart assembly Feb. 8.

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

Multiple stunts the cheer squad performed at Thursday’s Sweetheart assembly have been ruled illegal by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Principal Amy Murphy said she believes the violations were accidental.

“I do not believe that the coaches intentionally violated the rules,” Murphy said.

As a result of the illegal stunts, KSHSAA immediately grounded the cheer squad from stunting, jumping and tumbling until further notice. All performances, including the scheduled Sweetheart basketball game performance, and any cheering other than from the sidelines would not be allowed until the investigation from KSHSAA was complete. KSHSAA Assistant Executive Director Craig Manteuffel told BVNWnews shortly after 2 p.m. Friday the investigation regarding the violations of the program was complete.

Murphy said the cheerleaders would be allowed to stunt, jump and tumble at Friday’s games, but the routine from Thursday’s assembly would not be allowed to be performed until it had been reworked to meet safety standards.

“There were National Federation of High School Spirit rules and KSHSAA rules for spirit that were not followed yesterday during their performance,” Manteuffel said.

The KSHSAA handbook has just two rules regarding competition-based safety standards. In Rule 48, Article 4a the handbook states “All pyramids and/or mounts are limited to two persons high, meaning the top person receives primary support from a base(s) which is in direct, weight bearing contact with the cheering surface. The limitations are designed to minimize the possibility of serious accidents and/or injuries.”

Article 4b goes on to say “All basket tosses (tosses initiated from the waist level, immediately followed by a cradle catch) are prohibited to minimize the possibility of a serious accident and/or injury.”

Both Article 4a and 4b were violated during the routine at Thursday’s assembly. Yet still, senior cheer captain Ally Monaghan said she believes the routine was safe.

“I don’t think the routine that we did was unsafe because we were all taught and very aware of what we were doing and how to do it,”  Monaghan said. “Our coaches were very closely monitoring us and teaching us.”

“We always do things in the safest manner that we can, and no one got hurt from this and everyone wanted to do it. Everyone wanted to push themselves, and so that’s why we decided to do it.”

Head cheer coach Megan Geenens could not be reached for comment.

Rule violations regarding cheer programs are reported from time-to-time according to Manteuffel. He said the incident at BVNW will serve as a learning experience for the coaching staff and administration.

I don’t think the routine that we did was unsafe because we were all taught and very aware of what we were doing and how to do it.

— Ally Monaghan

“They’ve learned a lot about safety and rules and how we proceed in the future to keep our students safe when they’re performing as cheerleaders or in the spirit competitions or even on sidelines,” Manteuffel said.

Murphy said she could not disclose any punishment handed down as it was a personnel matter.

Monaghan said that during the competition season, which goes from the summer through November, the cheer program hires a choreographer. However, planning for the Sweetheart routine is done by the cheer captains and the coaching staff.

“When it comes to the stunt-making of the stunts for the Sweetheart routine,” Monaghan said, “the captains are typically in charge of it. But, we had to discuss it with our coaches and our coaches gave us the ideas, and we just kind of worked on it.”

Because of the nature of the Sweetheart performance, Monaghan said the team likes to push themselves and attempt more challenging stunts.

“We wanted to do things that would push us, and we wanted to do things that would wow the crowd,” Monaghan said. “That’s why we were trying to do things that we’d never done before.”

After the punishment was announced to the team Thursday night, Monaghan said girls on the team went through a range of emotions.

“It’s not necessarily any of the girls faults, or the coaches faults, and we’ve never gotten in trouble before so I don’t understand why we can’t be let off with a warning,” Monaghan said.

After the routine is modified to meet safety standards set by KSHSAA and NFHS it will be performed at a later date.

They will have an opportunity to rework the routine,” Murphy said, “and then we will find, I think we’re looking at [the]Senior Night game for them to have an opportunity to perform. The girls need to have an opportunity to do that, but the girls need to have an opportunity to do it following the guidelines and the organization that we’re to adhere to.”