The Kansas State High School Activities Association, or KSHSAA, decided to ground East’s cheer team on Dec. 5, meaning the team cannot stunt until they have gone through extra safety training with a National Cheer Alliance, or NCA, coach and formed a safety plan.
The grounding was a result of KSHSAA’s concern with injury rates during the season. KSHSAA prohibited stunting until the team relearns stunt safety because the team has recorded more concussions and other serious injuries, including a fractured back, this year than previous years.
Although the team has only had around two girls with official concussions, others have faced less serious head injuries. This increased concussion awareness is also due to the concussion tracking regulations KSHSAA has enforced this year.
East’s athletic director Debbie Katzfey met with the cheer coaches after school today, Dec. 7, to develop a safety plan which elaborates on safety precautions that must be taken while stunting. These include how to fly and catch safely and strengthening necessary muscles for stunting.
Aside from the safety plan, the cheerleading staff will bring in an NCA coach to go over proper stunt technique and spotting.
“That’s the part that may take a bit longer [than the safety plan], as it will depend on the availability of NCA staff,” Mallory Gaunce, the in-building program director for cheer, said. “The practice with NCA will essentially be a refresher course of the material covered in June at our NCA camp.”
Gaunce hopes to have the team back to stunting safely in January. Since competition season is over, the grounding will only affect a few basketball games and one pep assembly where they will be unable to stunt and showcase the competition routine.
“They’ve already done [safety training] once but they’re doing it again because a lot of the stunt groups have changed so they just want to make sure everyone is comfortable,” Katzfey said. “So if it keeps anyone from getting hurt the rest of the year, it’s worth it.”