The South Carolina High School Sports League Executive Committee denied Airport High School’s motion to combine competitive cheer squads with Brookland-Cayce at 4A level.
The South Carolina High School Sports League Executive Committee denied Airport High School’s motion to combine competitive cheer squads with Brookland-Cayce at the 4A level May 22 by way of a 10-2 vote. The motion to combine competitive cheer teams was originally denied by the 4A classification, and the meeting held on May 22 was to appeal that ruling. However, Monday’s ruling does allow Airport to accept the Brookland-Cayce cheerleaders on the condition they move to 5A.
At the beginning of the meeting, Airport Principal Matt Schilit explained the reason for the need to bring in athletes from Brookland-Cayce and why he is appealing the previous ruling by the 4A classification.
“I’m here today to talk to the executive committee about providing the opportunity for students at Brookland-Cayce High School. In the past, Brookland-Cayce High School’s principal reached out to me many months ago to share with me that, unfortunately, they would no longer be having a competitive cheer team,” Schilit said.
“As I listed, it’s due to a variety of reasons including graduating seniors, a lot of their students are enrolling at a local 2A charter school to compete there and their competitive cheer coach has left the position and will no longer be there. This leaves a few remaining cheerleaders that wish to continue their chosen sport and compete. Obviously, Airport High School is the only other high school in Lexington [County School District] 2. We have already combined in areas such as our swim teams and when [Brookland-Cayce Principal Barry] Bolen presented to me, I agreed with their request with the fact that we’re only talking about a couple of kids. We presented it to our region which was unanimously approved and then took it to the 4A classification where it was not approved. It was voted down.”
In the meeting, Bolen confirmed their competitive cheer squad lost six seniors to graduation and four to “local charter schools.” Bolen went on to claim that the departures left Brookland-Cayce without a full team and left two athletes without a school to compete for next season.
Bolen also went on to state that he sees this proposed arrangement to be temporary and that the school intends on rebuilding the competitive cheer program.
“We simply did not have enough girls to field a competitive team due to graduation. We lost six seniors, we lost two or three girls to transfer in the district and we lost our coach. And all of this happened pretty late in the year,” Bolen said. “We intend, after next year, to build our competitive squad back in place but it will take some time to build it with a new coach and due to the attrition … I personally feel this is strictly a one-year request for competitive cheer only and specifically for two students.”
Schilit’s appeal for the committee was for Airport to be allowed to accept the two Brookland-Cayce athletes but maintain their 4A classification status, citing potential difficulties with competing against 5A schools in the area.
According to leage commissioner Jerome Singleton, the combination of schools for athletic competition requires reclassification if the two schools’ combined 9-11 grade population exceeds the 9-11 grade population of the largest school in their previous classification.
The combined 9-11 grade population for Airport and Brookland-Cayce is 2,074, per Singleton, which would automatically move Airport’s competitive cheer team into the 5A classification. However, Singleton said that Airport can accept the two athletes from Brookland-Cayce and remain in 4A if it passes through a vote in the league Executive Committee.
Schilit made sure to note during the meeting that Airport and Brookland-Cayce already have a history of combining schools for athletics since they do so with their swim team without having to reclassify.
A motion was then made to vote on allowing the two Brookland-Cayce students to join Airport’s competitive cheer team as well as move up to the 5A level, citing a potential competitive advantage over other 4A schools.
The motion passed 10-2 to allow Airport to accept the Brookland-Cayce athletes, but now places them in the 5A classification. Schilit said during the meeting that he would not accept the combination of programs if it meant moving up to 5A.
“I’m not interested in moving up to 5A. That would be unfair to my cheerleaders and I wouldn’t do that to them,” Schilit said when asked if he would accept a ruling to allow them to accept Brookland-Cayce cheerleaders if it still meant moving up to 5A.
Airport High School will have 24 hours from the end of the vote to appeal the ruling to Commissioner Singleton and the appellate panel.
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