A Springville cheerleading coach addressed the St. Clair County Board of Education on Monday wanting to know why cheer is the only sport that has a constitution.
“As a cheerleading coach, I am opposed to this constitution,” said Lisa Cohron. “I also coach the golf team, and when I coach the golf team, I am not bound by demerits and 18 pages of rules.
“As the cheerleading coach, I’m told by three people, whom I have never met before in my life, who I can and can’t have on my team. That is wrong.”
Cohron said the cheerleading constitution that is in place does not work and never has.
“It is demeaning to me as an educator of 23 years and as a coach of over eight years,” she said.
Cohron presented a list of seven questions to the board that she wants answered. Cohron also said there are many times her girls can only use the gym to practice during volleyball and basketball season from 5-7 a.m. or 7-9 p.m.
“The only time we can practice after school is if those teams have an away game,” she said. “I don’t think it is fair and I don’t think my girls are treated fairly. I also don’t think the cheerleading coaches are being treated fairly.”
The 2016-17 cheerleading constitution was on the BOE agenda for approval. But after Cohron made her presentation, the board decided to table the decision until the next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 14.
During board member comments, Terry Green said the board had sort of evolved to this point through the years when it comes to cheerleaders.
“The whole purpose of the constitution was to give these cheer coaches an opportunity to get involved with how the system works,” Green said. “I am kind of lost as to why we have these issues now.
“The constitution was to keep us from having these issues. I totally disagree with demerits and how we handle tryouts.
“I don’t even know why we have tryouts. I think if any girl in our school system wants to be a cheerleader, she should be allowed to be one and let her cheer for her team. I don’t think we need to look for reasons she can’t be one like maybe she can’t do a backflip or something. We find ways to exclude them instead of finding ways to include them.”
Green told Cohron he agreed with a lot of what she was saying but disagreed with some of the things.
“Mr. Green, have you ever been a coach?” Cohron asked.
“All my life,” he replied. “I coached softball and travel ball for years, and I don’t know that I ever excluded a girl from any team I ever had.”
Cohron said although she may have 15 golfers on her team, she can only count the five best scores. In basketball, she has 12 players and is able to substitute from the bench.
“If one of my players is having a bad day and not shooting the basketball well, I can substitute in,” she said. “I can sit that player down and tell her, ‘Maybe tomorrow is your day.’”
Green told Cohron she was barking up the wrong tree.
“You might argue with anyone else in this room, but not me,” he said.
“Because I’m not getting paid $7 million, and I don’t care if we win another game of anything. The whole purpose of a coach is to teach our children and for them to get better.”
Cohron said it boils down to skills.
“If you can’t dribble a basketball, you don’t make the basketball team,” she said. “If you can’t do a toe touch, you don’t make the cheerleading squad.”
Green said that’s what a coach is for – to teach those skills.
“Yes, you are correct, when they are in elementary school,” Cohron said.
“But not at a varsity level in high school.”
Green told Cohron they would agree to disagree.
“My daughter didn’t pick up a softball until she was 13 years old,” he said. “She was not as good as Farrah Seals or Becky Carpenetti, but she had a great coach. Two years later, she competed with them and played with them. Two years after that, she signed a scholarship.”
Green did tell Cohron he appreciated her passion, but they were not going to see eye-to-eye on this matter.
Jill Wiley, the cheerleading coach for Moody High School, was also at the BOE meeting. She said there are some issues that need to be addressed in the overall process concerning cheerleading.
Contact Gary Hanner at email@example.com.