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Student letters: Paper should cover competitive sport of cheerleading more
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Today's letters are provided by students in Ernest Davis' social studies class at Chestatee High School. More student letters from the class will appear on Monday's Opinion page. Letters may be send by e-mail to (no attached files, please, which can contain viruses) or or click HERE for a form

The Times is a wonderful newspaper, and supplies the people of the Hall County area with important information about current events. It keeps us updated on local disasters and at the same time, reports the good things that take place in the community. It never fails to inform the public on latest sports news covering scores, highlights and interviews from coaches and players in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf, tennis and even cross country.

However, The Times has neglected one of the most exciting and demanding sports in the state of Georgia: competition cheerleading.

Competition cheerleading has grown into one of the most popular sports in the United States over the past 10 years. Movies have been made about it. Girls and boys involved in this sport spend perhaps more hours training per week than other athletes in other sports, often risking injury due to the complexity of moves and formations. On average, each member spends 15 hours per week training for competitions while maintaining a minimum "B" average, a standard set by our coaches.

Recently, Chestatee High School's competition cheerleading squad placed third in the state championships in Columbus, yet not a word of this achievement is mentioned in The Times.

We have gone to state every year since the cheerleading program has been at Chestatee, and have placed top 10 every year but one. The average member of the competition squad must maintain at least a "B" average in all academic classes. This standard has been set since our first year and is rigidly enforced by the aforementioned coaches.

This is all thanks to the coaches at Chestatee who help make the program so successful. Our head coach Lynn Clemmons, community coaches, Tommy Martin, Toe, Lisa Crain and Jennifer Gibson are the reason we are one of the top teams in Georgia. Competition cheerleading also holds the most banner and trophies than any other sport at Chestatee, yet, we never get mentioned.

I realize this sounds like I am just making this argument just for the Chestatee squad, but I have never read a word about any other school's fine cheerleading programs either. Perhaps recognizing competition cheerleading as a sport would be the first step in the right direction.

What I think would really help would be to have a sports writer attend the competitions and witness all the hard work the girls throughout the country and state put in to their sport. They could even come to some of the practices held at the school, and this would be a great way for the competition cheerleading to actually be recognized for their hard work and dedication. Then people would better understand and realize that it is a sport, and hopefully see our names in the paper, too.

Carmen Shope
Chestatee High School