ANCHORAGE - Hundreds of cheerleaders were at South High School on Tuesday for the Alaska State Cheerleading Competition.
But it’s not all about pep.
Preventing injuries is also a top priority for coaches and their athletes.
Girls and boys from 30 schools around the state have been practicing for months and know what it takes to stay safe during a competition of this caliber.
“Every time we fly that has to be the main focus, there can't be any giggling or talking, everything has to be completely focused on our flyer,” said Kaity McAdams, a senior at Sitka High School.
Chelsea Kilgore, a senior at Juneau Douglas High School added, “When we're doing stunts we always have spotters and we always encourage each other to stay up and fight for a stunt but if someone falls we all catch whoever is falling.”
Each year about 28,000 cheerleaders across the nation are hurt, making it the most dangerous high school sport. That’s why coach’s say teaching the basics is a must.
"We start from the bottom and build up which also builds the kids confidence which makes them more willing to do the more dangerous stunts they need to be at a competitive level,” said Joyce Davis, the Varsity Cheerleading Coach at Chugiak High School.
The tournament director, Chris Hebert, says with the sport becoming more competitive, it’s also crucial for coaches to stay up on the latest information. “ASAA makes sure all coaches are safety certified and stunt certified before they can have their students be involved,” said Hebert.
Though medics are standing by, cheerleaders hope they’ve taken enough precautions to ensure the only help they need is their squad’s spirits and smiles to take them to number one.