TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL)- It’s been almost a week since Tennessee Governor Bill Lee lifted certain restrictions on high school sports. The return to normal is turning out to be a continued challenge for some schools and their cheerleaders.
“We’ve worked really hard and we deserve to be out here and I’m really excited that we get to finish out our senior year cheering,” said Hampton High School Cheerleading co-captain and senior, Bailey Andrews.
The cheerleaders at Hampton High School were back Wednesday night for the first time since December but their opponent Sullivan North’s cheer team was not at the game.
“If their athletic director reaches out to us and we can accommodate those cheerleaders, we’ll be more than happy to do so,” said Hampton High School Athletic Director Dewayne Humphrey.
Sullivan Co. Director of Schools David Cox was unavailable for an interview about his system’s rules when it comes to cheerleading, but said their conference met Wednesday. He said the athletic directors in the conference “agreed to revisit to allow visiting cheerleaders to participate for home and away” and that the district “supports the change.”
While Hampton High says it will allow cheerleaders, that wasn’t the case at Science Hill High School for their game against David Crockett.
“You’re taking care of your people first and then the other team’s players’ families, that’s our priority,” said Science Hill’s Athletic Director, Keith Turner. “Some of the gyms aren’t really equipped to allow the cheerleaders to spread out enough. So, as a conference, we voted, the [Athletic Directors] voted just to do home cheerleaders for now.”
For David Crockett’s cheerleading captain, senior Zoe Chapman, the decision is even harder. Her team doesn’t have any home games left.
“Basketball season is also a huge part of cheerleading and it just really hurts that we got to miss our senior night,” said Chapman. “I didn’t realize it was going to be my last game the last time I cheered but I’m really thankful for another opportunity just to be on the court one more time.”
David Crockett cheerleaders will be able to travel to Friday’s game against Daniel Boone.
The TSSAA says there is no statewide requirement.
“A specific school could put that regulation in place for games at their facility. A conference or district…whatever collection of schools, they may vote on it as a whole to apply that regulation to all the schools within their conference or district,” said Assistant Director Matt Gillespie. “They can go to home or away games by our regulations. Ours are the minimum standard…If somebody wants to be more restrictive, which is the case we’re discussing here, they certainly can do so.”
Senior cheerleaders hoping for every chance they can get to finish strong.
“This is my 13th year I’ve cheered so I get to finish it out at home and I get to have my senior night which we didn’t expect to get either,” said Hampton High School cheer captain Hailey Taylor.
The rules determining whether cheerleaders can travel could change again once teams head into the post-season.