Cheer Hard: An inside look at competitive cheerleading
This coming football season pay attention to the young women on the sidelines.
WACH FOX'S Courtney King recently spent the day with the Dutch Fork Foxes' cheerleading team.
The ladies won the 2015 South Carolina Cheerleading State Title and took home tate runner-up for 2016.
The squad mixes in dance, tumbling, and long hours in the gym, showing they don't just cheer, they cheer hard.
Katie Nunnery has been the head coach of Dutch Fork cheerleading for over 15 years. She says the number one thing the outside world doesn't understand about the sport is how competitive it is.
"These kids are so athletic. We work extremely hard, a lot of times we are the first ones to school and the last ones to leave."
Carson Ellis is an incoming 8th grader who got called up to the Varsity Squad, an opportunity the "flyer" is very grateful for,
"I feel this program is so hardworking and the work ethic is so strong and everyone has such good team bonding skills."
Rising Senior, Hannah Oliver, also a flyer, explains the busy schedule of her team, "The most harsh part of cheerleading takes place between April and November and that's like during the competitive season and that's when we're practicing every single day."
Alyssa Coons is entering her third season with the squad. She, like Carson, got called up as a middle schooler. However, the rising sophomore has yet to compete during the busy season.
"People don't think of cheerleading as a dangerous sport, most people think of football. People don't realize how dangerous it really is," says Coon.
Coon experienced the dangers first hand. She watches her team from a far due to a torn ACL. "My first year, I tore it, in August and tore it again the next year at tryouts, tumbling. And this year, I tore it like two months ago."
Coach Nunnery hates seeing someone with so much talent sitting out saying, "It's heart breaking to see someone who's been with the program for three years not be able to step on the mat."
Oliver explains how if anything goes wrong, a cheerleader can really hurt herself. She admits she's been scared in the past, doing stunts but says she's used to it now,
"You have to get over your fear and just go for it."
Oliver cites trust as the biggest thing for a successful squad.
"I'm a flyer, if I don't trust my bases I'm not going to want to go in the air."
Coach Nunnery also explained to WACH FOX that the state requires cheer coaches to take concussion and heat illness courses to keep their athletes safe.