Local cheer coach calls video of forced splits 'disturbing,' young athletes disagree
For many, watching the video of a Colorado high schooler being pushed into the splits during cheerleading practice is too much.
Russ Coleman, the owner and coach of Ohio Explosion in Brunswick, said he even cringed when he heard the screams.
“I think once the girl at first said ‘stop’ that would be it," Coleman said.
He and his wife have been in the cheering industry for more than two decades, which means he’s seen it all.
He said the video highlights a scary and outdated ideology.
"Watching that kind of reminded me of how cheerleading starting out, gymnastics, the old Russian way,” Coleman said. “It was very militant."
If you ask the girls who know the sport best and put their bodies through the wringer, it isn’t out of the ordinary.
"It looks kind of hard and it sounds really painful, but I feel like they're just helping her out,” 8th grader Katie Harper said.
Harper has been cheering for a couple of years and her teammate, Mackenzie Lessears, has been training since the age of five.
Both said the video didn’t shock them, it only proves how hard you have to be willing to work. "Sometimes it's intense, but the more you want to do the sport, the more you're gonna have to work harder and harder,” Lessears said.
"The coach might not take it as an abusive situation, just probably taking it as a helping situation,” Harper said.
Coach Coleman said that’s where supervisors and coaches have to step in and know the difference between safety and suffering.
”Why would you want to push a girl like that to the point where now she can't do anything?” Coleman said. “That's disturbing for our industry."
In Ohio, rules for coaches and supervisors are enforced by the Board of Education.
Even in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, a person must be certified and follow safety guidelines on how far is too far when it comes to conditioning in cheerleading.