Cheerleaders slowly losing their program
The Brahmas cheerleading squad may not have enough funds to keep the program running through the spring semester and may be completely cut by next fall, according to the Pierce College cheerleading coach.
Cheerleading is currently a one-unit class that is UC and CSU transferable under the physical education (P.E.) department, but budget cuts from the Associated Students Organization, the Athletics Department and the Physical Education Department may lead to the loss of the program, according to coach Jenny Ghilglia.
Ghilglia has created a new competition-focused cheer squad in hopes of keeping the program alive, but these financial cuts have kept the entire squad from attending away games and having regular practices.
Many of the 33 member team cannot afford the high prices required to be cheerleaders.
“When they go to [safety] camp it costs them $325,” Ghilgia said. “This year they’ve put out as much as $800 to represent Pierce per person.”
Many cheer members, such as sophomore Andrea Henderson, believe that the effort they put into cheer should qualify them as athletes.
“To be on the competition squad, you have to be an athlete,” Henderson said. “[We] have to work out a lot more outside of practice, so we can perform at a top level and do stunts at a top level.”
Ghilgia also believes that her cheerleaders should be considered athletes and therefore funded by the Athletics Department.
“Some people say cheerleaders aren’t athletes,” Ghilgia said. “I’d like to see any athlete lift a person, [throw them], and then safely catch them.”
On the other hand, Athletic Director Bob Lofrano does not consider cheerleading to be a sport and because of this, maintains they should not receive funds from his department.
“Team sports are different,” Lofrano said. “For one thing, a P.E. student doesn’t have to carry 12 units with a C average to be eligible. A second year student athlete has to have 24 units completed with a C average to play.”
Despite the cheer squad’s need for funds, Lofrano found it more beneficial to start up the women’s water polo team.
He said he did not regret this decision because cheerleading is not a sport under the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA).
“Cheerleading always fell under us until budget cuts,” Lofrano said. “We were told to slice our budget. It’s not a sport as defined by the CCCAA… [I believe] it’s a club. It should be a club funded by the ASO.”
However, Sports Information and Communication Director Jason Boggs of the CCCAA said that the association does, in fact, recognize cheerleading as a sport.
“There are no rules saying that they can’t be funded for sure under the Athletics Department,” Boggs said. “There are other sports not defined by us that athletics departments [at other schools] fund…we certainly support them as teams.”
It is not certain where the funds for the cheer program here at Pierce College should come from, or whether they are eligible any allocations at all.
In any case the program is slowly dwindling away along with its funding.
“You can’t change people’s minds about how they feel about certain things,” Ghiglia said. “And cheerleading is a gray area. It is.”