Ever since the explosive success of the movie “Bring It On” back in 2000, cheerleading has grown by leaps and bounds in our country, and around the world. There are many options for cheerleaders in our area starting at a young age, but how do you decide which is right for your family?
School Cheer – This is the type of cheerleading most people are familiar with. Participants cheer for their school team in traditional cheer uniforms—cheering for sports teams from the sidelines. Some high school cheer squads in this area compete as well. Skyline High School in Sammamish, for example, has won 1st place in the WIAA State Championships several times.
In the greater Seattle area, school cheerleading is almost exclusively limited to high school. There are very few middle school teams, and even fewer elementary programs, which are usually just a weekly after-school activity instead of a true sideline cheer squad.
All-Star Cheer – On the other end of the spectrum is All-Star Cheer. This is similar to studio dance or select sports programs. All-star cheer programs are run out of private gyms and are not affiliated with a school. Their focus is on achieving advanced skills and succeeding in competitions. While being on an all-star team can be fun and rewarding, it can also be very expensive for the family, with costs that include uniforms, private lessons, tuition, and travel expenses to competitions all over the country.
Recreational (Rec) Cheer – Rec Cheer is usually associated with junior football programs or Parks Departments or Boys & Girls Clubs. Rec cheer is a more relaxed form of cheerleading for younger kids. They focus on sideline cheer skills (especially if they cheer for a junior football or basketball program), and some may compete in local rec cheer competitions as well. They have less regulation than school cheer (WIAA) or All-Star Cheer (USASF), and are often only governed by their local league.
The bottom line is, there is something for everyone in cheerleading. Do your research and find out what is right for your family.