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Wilson Central cuts competition cheer squad

Laurie Everett mtjulietnews@tds.net • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 10:04 PM

With possible college scholarships at stake, some Wilson Central High School parents are upset the school's competitive cheer team has apparently been dismantled as of next season.

It was confirmed Tuesday evening things have changed related to the school's competition cheer squad.

"There will be no separate competition squad," said Eve Southworh, one of four newly appointed cheer coaches at a meeting Tuesday night at the school.

She said at some point next season, those interested in competing on a school level will be evaluated for interest level and "there may be one competiton, and maybe one more."

Up to this point the school had an active competition squad with up to 14 members.

Some feel the cheerleaders are being discriminated against with the administration's decision to take away the permanent competition squad. Tuesday night parents said other high schools in Wilson County still have competition cheer squads. They don't understand why their school is different now. They would like the school's administration to change their minds.

"I want to know what is going on," said Theresa Williams prior to the meeting where administrators said they planned to answer questions and explain why this decision was made.

Nothing was explained formally, only that there won't be a separate competition squad and the cheer program was "moving in a different direction."

Williams and Mary Johnson both have freshman daughters. The girls were part of WCHS's competition cheer squad, one that has won numerous awards, including first place with an "undefeated status," said Johnson.

Stacy Jones was the cheer coach, including presiding over the competition team that has been active three years, with a hiatus last year because Jones' father was very ill.

Jones is also a teacher at the school. In January she was told she was not going to be the cheer coach any longer and the cheer program "was going to go in another direction."

When asked why Jones was dismissed from her duties as cheer coach, WCHS Principal Pat Suddarth said, "I will not discuss personnel issues."

"I don't know why the parents have called the media," she said prior to the Tuesday night meeting. "We never said we won't have competition. Things will be different. The students will have a chance to compete."

However, parents and cheerleaders learned, at the most, there would be just two competitions and no competitive cheer squad.

"About 90 percent of the competition squad have been cheering since they were litte," said Johnson. "They are looking to get into colleges and universities on scholarships for this sport. Now, many are freshman and won't be able to say they've competed, like the other kids have. I don't think it's fair."

She wants the competition squad to stay intact.

She said there are two boys on the team, and one quit football in hopes to get a "stuntsman" scholarship. Now that opportinty to progress in the sport is unavailable, she said.

Parents said they felt the cheerleaders were being discriminated against.

"The band and the chorus are allowed to compete," said Johnson. "Why take away what they've worked so hard for?"

Jones said she hasn't been given a reason why the squad was dismantled.

"I was never give a particular reason why I was dismissed," she said Tuesday. "I know 100 percent in my heart and soul I did nothing wrong."

She said this last competitive squad was "the best squad I've worked with since 2004."

"They worked so hard and strove to be the best," she said. "They have proven their ability and are wonderful representatives for Wilson County. I feel fortunate to have worked with them."

Last week, the legislature presented the competitive squad with a joint resolution lauding their success.

Parent Williams felt the recent decisions were not fair to the cheerleaders on the competition squad.

"I was told that the cheer coach from West Wilson Middle School asked to take over if there was some problem with the coaching," she said. "I was told she was turned down."

Many of the cheerleaders will go to Destiny Cheer in Gallatin to continue to cheer competatively. However, it's more expensive, and some may not be able to afford it.

"Why is this team being discriminated against," said Williams. "They are so talented and now they are sad."

Parent Kevin Summer was upset at the meeting. He has a freshman and sophomore on the cheer squad.

"This is ridiculous," he said. "They should be practicing now. I think the fact they said the cheerleaders may compete one or two times was leaving the door open to keep us quite."

Kaylee Johnson was mostly quiet at the meeting. She has been cheering for years and loved to compete.

"We were told this change was to go in a good direction," she said. "Where is that good direction."

One cheerleader who wanted to remain anonymous said she was going to be a senior next year.

"They've ruined it now," she said. "What's the point?"

Another cheerleader said, "all this work for one competion?"

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