by JULIA DAHL
Two weekends ago, the American University cheerleading squad held its annual tryouts. About 30 people, some returning cheerleaders, some incoming freshmen, competed to win a spot on one of three squads: all-girl stunting, coed stunting, and the dance team. It was a grueling three days, with emotions running high and the “flyers” (cheerleading lingo for the young women who are tossed into the air) being lifted even higher.
According to The New York Times, cheerleading injuries have more than doubled since the 1990s, and in the past 20 years, the number of cheerleaders who suffered head and spinal trauma surpassed all other female athletes combined. But none of this can keep the young women–and handful of young men–from their duties as the university’s designated spirit squad.