But coaches and a few cheerleaders at Leon High School here said they likely would quit the team themselves if the selection process were bypassed — a move Leon County Schools may be considering. A final decision could be made Monday.
The school district has overruled cheerleading judges in the past, intervening when certain girls did not make the team at Leon last year and in cases at Montford Middle and Lincoln and Chiles high schools in other years. The name of the girl, who will be a high school senior, was not released.
“They should not put an athlete on the team that doesn’t deserve to be on the team,” said Caylen Berry, Leon’s head cheerleading coach. “A decision like this would question my integrity as a professional. It also questions the entire legitimacy of tryouts and cheerleading as a sport.”
Berry has coached for eight years, and this will be her second year at Leon. She said she refuses to have “something like this” stain her career.
“This is just a thing the district does and thinks is OK,” Berry said. “I don’t know why the district feels the need to go behind the back of the coaches and the school.”
Chris Petley, a spokesman for the district, did not provide additional details about the decision but said officials were made aware of a parent's complaint and sent that information to Leon High School.
The high school has a tryout open to any student, and cheerleading hopefuls audition before multiple coaches. Leon High will be the first local team to compete Feb. 11 to 12 in the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando and was state runner-up last season in the large non-tumbling division.
Berry said the girl threatening to sue was not the only senior who failed to make the cut.
She cannot be on a junior varsity squad and initially didn’t make the varsity team last year, Berry said. During the recent tryout, she fell twice during the same tumbling routine and was ranked too low for a place on the squad.
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