By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
Everyone knows that the Moapa Valley High School Cheerleading squad is great at getting the fans up and excited at football and basketball games. But last week the cheerleading team received an award that shows that the talents of these girls extend much beyond that.
The team was recognized by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) as the Academic State Champions for 2017 in the field of cheerleading. This award averages the grade point average of each cheerleading team in the NIAA and recognizes the team that achieves the highest average score. And it was the Pirate cheerleading squad that stood at the top this year.
“This is a great team of girls,” said MVHS Cheer Coach Amber Leavitt. “They work hard and have a lot of self-discipline. It takes that to do all that they do as a team in supporting the school and get good grades at the same time.”
Leavitt said that she and her coaching staff make it clear to the girls that they are under high expectations in their academic work.
“They all know that keeping their grades up is important for them and for the team,” Leavitt said.
Cheerleading is not really considered a ‘sport’ in the NIAA. There is no longer a state-wide cheerleading competition for teams to attend to win a state cheer title. Instead cheerleading is viewed more in a performing art category, with the main activities being to perform during the school’s athletic events.
Nevertheless the team is still under the same strict academic requirements for girls to participate.
“We are a little different from the other sports because we don’t have a bench to pull from,” Leavitt said. “If a girl is ineligible to participate because of grades, that is something that hurts the whole team. So we stay pretty hard on them about that.”
Still, there is a significant gap between the 2.0 GPA threshhold required for students to participate in sports, and being recognized as the Academic State Championship team, Leavitt said.
“I think that some of them were a little surprised at this award,” Leavitt said. “But they all work hard and they always manage to make the effort to keep their grades high.”