Coachella Valley High School student Alliyah Bazua began cheerleading when she was just 4 years old. As a sophomore on her school cheer team, she’s used to the standard criticism:
“When they tell me cheerleading isn’t a sport it makes me think back on all the hard practices that we had to go through,” Bazua said.
Coach Melissa Cosme trains Bazua and her teammates for more than 15 hours a week. Practices include conditioning, stunt exercises and countless hours of rehearsals.
“We run and we exercise and we stretch,” Bazua said.
“Five to six hour practices. I’s pretty intense, we’ve had some accidents in the past and just as with any sport, it happens,” Cosme said of the grueling training.
Now the voices of cheerleaders like Bazua are moving from stadiums to the state capitol.
Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez, of San Diego County, is pushing a bill that would recognize cheerleading as an official sport in California.
If passed, the law would create new safety guidelines for training and spark changes in athletic department funding.
“Every single month we’re fundraising, whether it’s for uniforms, camp or competitions,” Cosme said.
“Almost every Saturday there’s a car wash where the girls are out there washing cars, asking for money so that we can afford the things that cheer should be provided with,” Bazua said.