Like many girls, when Adrianne Pitch was in elementary school, she looked to her older sister, Danielle, for clues to just about everything. One of those times was when Danielle joined the St. Louis cheer squad. Anthony’s School in Huntington.
It was a no-brainer for Ms. Pitch – she was on her way as a cheerleader.
“It was great being on a team with other girls, sharing experiences together,” she said.
Now, as the cheerleading coach at Shelter Island School, she is inspiring girls to play the sport with enthusiasm and effort. In her first season as a coach – she also teaches 4th grade – she noticed the satisfaction she gets from helping girls succeed. But the girls also helped her.
“I was surprised at my first training session by the response from the team,” she said. “The captains and all the girls were receptive and supportive.”
She spoke about how sport is a path to empowerment for girls, who can score measurable achievements and gain support from each other. Sport is the correct word for cheerleading, although it is often stereotyped as just cute smiles and pompoms.
But cheerleading meets the definition of sport at all levels. Athletes in a cheerleading squad need to be strong, flexible, athletic, focused and work together to achieve goals, which takes collaboration, practice and training.
In May 2014, the New York State Board of Regents reached a milestone. There was a proposal before them to declare cheerleading an interscholastic sport.
While it gained immediate support from many organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it took years to get a final unanimous vote from the Regents – 17-0 to legitimize it as a sport at the level of all other college sports.
Now, more than 30 states have designated cheerleading as a sport.
Cheerleading brings a sense of entertainment – another essential component of sports – and brings fans together at games to support and encourage a positive culture for the student body.
Mrs. Pitch said she is proud of her athletes, who are enjoying themselves in a demanding effort.