Keeping high school cheerleaders safe during stunting

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - An Orlando Magic cheerleader was injured Tuesday night after a stunt went wrong. The cheerleader allegedly slipped and fell head first, breaking a rib and fracturing a few vertebrae. Rules and regulations are in place for football and basketball players, and as Region 8 investigated, in place for cheerleaders as well.

Region 8 News spoke with a cheerleader at Jonesboro High School who said, "after you've been dropped, it's a whole new ball game."

Kalia Faurnier has been a "flyer" for the cheer squad for five years. She knows all too well what it's like when a stunt doesn't go as planned. She was dropped during a stunt and "slipped one of my discs in my back and I've had a few bruises but nothing major," Faurnier explained.

Faurnier said trust goes a long way when it comes to going back up in the air.

JHS Cheer Coach, Stephanie Cockrill said that trust is put in place through a lot of reps.

"The bases go through, we call it marking it, they mark the stunt beforehand. The flyer goes through all of her moves, pulls every position that she's going to pull in the air, she pulls on the ground first," Cockrill told Region 8 News.

Cockrill said the girls also know that stunt time is serious time.

"There's no talking when we're doing stunts, there's no laughing, there's no playing around. Everyone has to pay attention."

Not only that, but the cheerleaders and coaches follow rules and regulations set in place by multiple organizations, such as the National Cheer Association, American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Administrators and the Arkansas Athletics Association. These are all in place to keep cheerleaders safe during practice and during a game.

Cockrill said some of the rules in place deem where cheerleaders can perform certain stunts. "We can throw baskets on turf, we can throw them on the football field. We can't throw baskets on the basketball court," Cockrill said. They also aren't allowed to throw baskets on a track.

Cockrill explained that if a serious injury does happen, they have a safety system in place for that as well.

"We run that drill just like we would a fire drill or any other drill," Cockrill said.

These are all things that keep cheerleaders like Faurnier, the other flyers and the bases safe while cheering. Even if it can be a little nerve wracking being thrown up in the air.

"You do have the fear of being dropped but you just have to put that fear aside and let your bases have that control," Faurnier said. She also said if you do get dropped, "it does hurt happens. It's part of it."

Cockrill told Region 8 News that she also has to take a series of tests throughout the school year to make sure she's up to date on all the rules and regulations set in place for high school cheerleaders.

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