Cheering won’t have its leaders at ALHS

By Ashley Stewart

staff intern

Though it has been a long tradition at Albert Lea High School, cheerleading has been cut from the school’s extracurricular activities this year due to a steep decline in student participation.

“I’m not entirely sure why the number decreased like it did — it could be a number of different things,” said ALHS Activities Director Clay Anderson, who is also the football coach. “A decreasing number of students overall could be the answer or even growing popularity in dance team, but I just don’t know.”

Anderson presented his decision to cut cheerleading to the school board this summer after seeing a decrease in student interest in cheerleading within the last five years. The cheerleading numbers for the winter 2009-10 sports season were so low that the three, small winter squads combined weren’t enough to make one varsity squad.

The effects of cheerleading being cut have yet to be seen this year. Anderson thinks sporting event atmospheres won’t change much without cheerleading at most schools in Minnesota.

Others in the community feel differently about cheerleading being cut.

Laura Lunde, an Albert Lea High School graduate, participated in cheerleading throughout high school and was the varsity cheerleading captain for football in 2000.

“I think sometimes it takes excited people with pompoms to keep the spirit up because there are low moments in a game and someone needs to give the fans hope and encourage the players to keep fighting,” Lunde said. “It is definitely a sad day that cheerleading is cut; it has been a tradition in Albert Lea for years and years and years.”

When Lunde was in high school in the late ’90s, cheerleading in Albert Lea was borderline competitive. There were about two dozen girls participating and three male cheerleaders. The male cheerleaders allowed the squad to do more aggressive routines that involved lifts, tumbles and tosses. Practice was held every day after school, just like other sports.

“My favorite part were game nights and Homecoming, because it was a rush keeping the entire community motivated to cheer on the Tigers,” Lunde said. “If there is any way they can bring it back, they should.”

Every other year the students are given an interest survey, and if the number of students interested increases again, cheerleading would be able to come back.

“It could come back,” Anderson said. “We have all the uniforms for it, and it doesn’t cost very much for the school district to run. We just need the interest there.”

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