Colleyville changes direction on cheerleading squad

Bowing to pressure from angry parents who saw their daughters' high school cheerleading dreams tossed aside, Grapevine-Colleyville district administrators reversed an earlier decision based on tryout results at Colleyville Heritage High School that some parents claimed were aimed at creating a smaller squad that would do better in cheerleading competitions.

Administrators decided to let all of the candidates who passed the required tumbling certification during recent tryouts onto the squad. Next year's ninth graders will be put on the freshman team, and the others will be placed in the junior varsity lineup.

In making their decision administrators said that they wanted more student participation on the squad than the tryouts allowed, as well as three full teams of cheerleaders, which has been the custom at Colleyville Heritage.

Late last month about 50 cheerleaders, friends and parents crowded into a Grapevine-Colleyville administration building to protest that the selection process for the 2012-13 cheerleading squad was unfair.

At issue for the parents is whether girls in the cheerleading programs at Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine high schools are being held to the same standards, whether mistakes were made in judging tumbling exercises, and whether younger girls were unfairly judged the same as older girls.

Parents say differing standards at the two schools cause a disparity in the judging, rating Colleyville's candidates for a competitive squad and Grapevine's for more informal sideline cheering.

Speakers said that the previous policy stipulated that the top 60 girls at each school who tried out made the squads. But for this school year, the Colleyville Heritage squad had only about half that many girls, and for next year, 19 girls were chosen.

The 19 who originally made the squad by the tryout judges' more difficult standards included five for the freshman group and one for the junior varsity team, district officials said. The others were selected for the varsity team.

Although two girls were added to the Colleyville Heritage team after it was determined that the mathematical point judging had been harsher for them than for their counterparts at Grapevine High, the parents said, it still didn't equalize the teams.

At least one parent said that she was pleased with the district's latest decision to reverse its decision about how many girls can be on the squad.

"We're happy with the way it all came out," said Susan Hicks on Tuesday, one of the cheerleader moms who spoke twice before the school board and kept up a conversation with trustees through the process. "We told the administrators that it was never our intent to embarrass the school."

According to Hicks, Colleyville Heritage officials have since restored more of the cheerleaders to their former squad positions, including eight freshmen, three junior varsity and 17 varsity cheerleaders. The school district could not confirm the campus action on Tuesday afternoon.

"If the girls are experienced and talented enough, then they should be rewarded," said district spokesperson Megan Overman.

Since the tryouts and their aftermath, two of the squad's coaches have resigned, including Brandi Moraveck and Shannon Crawford. While the district did not comment on the coaches' change in status, the cheerleaders and their backers told the school board that several years of increasing tensions over the program’s philosophy and tough tryouts had affected the program.