KNOW THE RULES

by Sandi Hoffman, MSHSL Rules Clinician

Recently, the Minnesota State High School League released a policy statement regarding stunting and midriff uniforms that will have a direct impact on cheerleading programs across Minnesota.  I assume that many of you may have questions.  With that in mind, I have tried to anticipate those questions and provide answers to them. Below you will find the MSHSL statement followed by questions and answers.  If there is something that isn’t answered in this column, please contact me by email: bs4467@iw.net or the MSHSL (contact information below).

LEAGUE STATEMENT:
This is to inform you that on February 10, 2005, the Minnesota State High School League Board of Directors voted to adopt the Activity Advisory Proposal requiring all cheer coaches directly responsible for the supervision of a stunting cheer squad to be AACCA Safety and Stunt Progression Certified.  This requirement will be in effect for the fall of 2005.
 As cheerleading stunts become increasingly more difficult and complex, the need for properly trained coaches has become crucial. Requiring these classes will assure properly trained coaches and a safer environment with less chance of injury for participating students. 

Schools and/or coaches that choose not to become certified in AACCA Safety and  Stunting Progressions may still offer and coach sideline cheerleading, however, these squads will not be allowed to perform any stunting activities.  Certification locations, dates and times will be posted to the cheer page on the mshsl.org website and will be communicated through the Cheer Coaches Association.

The Board of Directors also adopted the Cheer Coaches Association proposal to ban bare midriff uniforms. Schools who currently own bare midriff uniforms may cover the exposed skin with a body suit.  This brings cheerleading in line with all other MSHSL sponsored activities in regards to uniform guidelines. This requirement will be in effect for the fall of 2005.

We realize that these rule changes may pose challenges for member schools. Please contact me if I can be of help in any way by emailing me (Jody Redman) at jredman@mshsl.org or by phone at 763-560-2262.

Now for some questions and answers………………

Question: What is the exact date that the stunting rule goes into effect?
Answer:
The policy will be effective when cheer teams begin fall practice.

Question:  Does this mean cheerleaders won’t be able to stunt at away events without the coach present?
Answer:
 This policy applies to all practices, games and performances by your school’s cheerleaders.  In other words, if the person supervising the cheerleaders is not certified in the required classes, the cheerleaders cannot stunt.  So if a school has been sending cheerleaders to football games under the supervision of the football coach, for example, those cheerleaders CANNOT stunt.

Question: What is AACCA and what will the class involve?
Answer:
AACCA is the acronym for the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors.  This risk management course focuses on performer readiness, skill progression and the medical and legal responsibilities in cheerleading.  The class is taught in a classroom setting and is approximately four hours in length including a test.  The cost for AACCA is $75, which includes the $20 safety manual.

Question: What is the stunting progression class?
Answer:
The partner stunt progression course, developed by Universal Cheerleaders Association, focuses on teaching beginning to advanced stunts in a safe, progressive manner. Lead-up skills, stunt biomechanics and spotting specifics are also covered in both classroom and “hand-on” settings.  The class is approximately three hours in length including a test.

Question: Where can I take these classes?
Answer: 
The stunting progression class will be offered at all Minnesota UCA resident camps and on the first day of all UCA commuter camps.  Cost for the class is $35.  You may attend the class even if your students are not attending the camp but you must be registered two weeks in advance. For more information on UCA camps go to www.varsity.com. You can register for classes at UCA camps by contacting Lee Trudell at ltrudell@uca.com.

Both AACCA and stunting progression will be offered both days of the MCCA Coaches Conference in St. Cloud on August 7-8, 2005.  Cost for the classes taken together will be $90. In addition, MCCA is working with Lee Trudell from UCA to set up another session in September. Watch for registration and conference information on the MCCA website www.mccacheer.com and the newsletter.

Question: Who will keep track of coaches’ certification?
Answer:
Certificates are issued to individuals after the coursework is successfully completed.  Then it will be the school’s responsibility to keep a record of which coaches are certified.  

Question: If a cheer squad comes to my school to cheer, accompanied by their coach, and based on the poor stunting I see I suspect the coach has not taken the coursework, do I have the right to ask that coach is she/he has? And, if they haven't, what is my recourse?
Answer: It is and will continue to be each schools responsibility to "police" their own. It is not the responsibility of a coach to confront another coach regarding their certification. A question can and should be raised to the League and they will contact the school's administrator to determine certification and safety concerns.

Question: A cheer team comes to my school, without a coach, and begins stunting.  What should I do?
Answer:
This is a direct violation of the policy.  You or your athletic director should remind the cheerleaders of the policy and tell them they cannot stunt without their coach.  

Question: Our cheerleaders don’t have midriff uniforms but on one girl the uniform looks like it is midriff because she is very tall, she pulls her skirt down and her top is too short.  Is this OK?
Answer: The intent of the policy is that the midriff/stomach area is supposed to be covered by the uniform.  If the cheerleader is very tall and uniform isn’t long enough, she must wear a bodysuit.  (She could also pull the skirt up to the waist where it belongs!)

I hope this Q and A section has helped to clarify these policies and has answered some of your questions. I believe we have taken a huge step forward for cheer coaches education in Minnesota!  Please don’t hesitate to contact the League or me there is something else you would like clarified.