Thanks to everyone who responded to my dilemma about handling a
cheerleader who is injured and cannot participate in tryouts. I have
included many of your thoughts below. It's very reassuring to know that
others have survived similar issues. :)

Tryout when she is capable is how I have handled it in the past.

I had one student with a broken ankle who did tryout. She had been on
the squad throughout junior high and the first two years of high school
(this was her junior year). She was not able to do the jumps or
acrobatics. As sponsor, I scored those areas. All of the administration
and the participants agreed that this was fair. She did make the squad.

Another student had been injured in PE the day of tryouts and was rushed
to the hospital for a head injury. She came back for tryouts, but once
again, we didn't allow her to do jumps or acrobatics. She, too, had been
on the squad since junior high and was well respected. She made the
squad- and made captain, too.

On a third incident (junior high), the doctor would not let the student
participate due to injuries. The doctor could not guarantee that the
student would be able to participate in the fall either. So, she did not
pass the medical criteria for tryouts or serving on the team.

I guess there's no hard fast rule. We had another student who was moving
to the district in the fall- with tryouts in the spring. The district
did not allow her to tryout because she was not a resident of the
district yet.

I have experienced this with other sports on more than one occasion. I
will use basketball as an example. We would have the student come to a
couple of practices as soon as they are cleared by a doctor. The coach
evaluates them and makes a determination as to whether they would have
made it or not. We have also done this for track and baseball. I just
tell the parent the student will be evaluated at practice the same the
others were during try-outs. Some students have made it and some have
not. I would especially do this for a student that has made the team in
the past. Unless you have an amazing group behind them they will most
likely be good enough to make it again.

I had a cheerleader fall during a practice stunt and break and arm. She
was a returning cheerleader. We kept her even though she didn't try-out.
The other girls understood that she would have made the team. Actually
the other cheerleaders said it wasn't fair if she didn't make the team.
Wait until she can try out and hold the names until she is able to
tryout and then set the squad?

Let her tryout later and bump the size of the squad by one if she makes
the cut?

Let her tryout later and let the squad know someone might be an
alternate if she makes the cut above the last student. They then can
drop if they don't like the alternate spot.

I guess all of these do not hold against her an medical issue and allows
her time to heal.

What would happen if a student moved in and wanted to join then? Maybe
think of if from that perspective.

You're OK and can keep her on the squad, if the person was on the squad
last year. You may also consider allowing her to be an alternate, if
she is qualified.

Cheer and dance are different from the other sports where tryouts are
the 2-3 weeks prior to the beginning of the season. Cheer and dance
tryouts are several months prior to the beginning of their "season" and
therefore should be handled differently. I believe that it is only fair
to offer a second tryout closer to the start of the season or to allow
this young lady on the squad based on her past accomplishments. If you
believe this injury is legitimate then I think you have latitude here.
What if this young lady was a softball player and last week she blew out
her ACL playing SB. She has surgery and the doc says she will be ready
to begin athletic competition again in three months (Early August).
Would you keep her from cheering in August...or in November...simply
because she is rehabbing in the off season? I would say not. Just as
you would not keep the tailback who blows his ACL out in October out of
baseball in March if he is healed and ready to go once baseball comes

We have had this situation once before. The student was required to
attend all practices prior to tryouts, and she participated as best she
could. In our case it was a leg injury and she was required to do all of
the hand motions while basically sitting on a chair. She was judged on
voice, motions, etc. Seems a bit strange, but she did make the squad.
We used a video tape of the injured cheerleader in place of a physical
tryout. Her mother had taped several hours so they chose which selection
they wanted to show the judges.

I would assume the person(s) that evaluates the tryouts use some type of
point system. I would suggest that you might modify the scoring
instrument so she can complete the parts for which she is able and use
some averaging or factorization to come up with a score. Basically, she
will only be evaluated on what she can do at this time, but it will
still be an average. (Compare this with modifying an 20 question
assignment for a student with an IEP to a 10 question assignment.) They
still get a the percentage they earn, it is just the field of
performance is limited (sort of Win--Win).
Healthy girl:
Hand Motions - 15 out 20
Voice 15 out of 20
Synchronization 15 out of 20
Gymnastics - 15 out of 20
Teacher Recommendation 15 out of 20
Average Score 15 out of 20
Injured Girl:
Hand Motions - 16 out 20
Voice - 16 out of 20
Teacher Recommendation 16 out of 20
Synchronization - N/A
Gymnastics - N/A
Average Score 16 out of 20
If she can't do any part of the try out at all, your only options are to
reschedule tryouts and fill the team later or tell her that she will
just have to try again next year (Lose-Lose).

Good Luck with solving this one. These situations are what makes your
job fun and challenging. :-) I hope my idea helps.

Well, as a previous cheerleading coach...I can say that one option is to
extend the tryout decision until the student can perform
independently...that is if is is not too long. ( have done that, but it
was only a couple of weeks until the student was ready)

The only other option is too bad, so sad. :) Don't you love being a

I would be willing to bet that you will not get a lot of helpful
answers, but you should check with other districts that have try-outs
for all sports as to how they would consider this if the student was
wanting a position on a competive team or JV/Varsity (basketball,
soccer, etc.)

I have had that same situation. We allowed for that person to have a
try-out once they were physically able to try-out. There were no
promises made about making the team. It worked out pretty well, with few
complaints. I hope this helps.

I did have this happen one year when I was a Cheerleading Sponsor. We
allowed the student to attend and complete the vocal & cheer portions,
and were able to delay the final selection until she was released 2
weeks later to complete the physical portion. No complaints--but that
was a long time ago!!

What type of injury? Do you use a panel of judges or a selection by the
coach? If it is an injury that she will rebound and be 100% then you can
consider her previous skill depending on if it is coach selected or
panel - maybe put her on alternate status if she was one of your top

Really, it depends on a lot of variables that you will need to sort

Nightmare! Is this high school or junior high? You could go with, no
tryout, too bad...what is the difference in basketball or another sport?
Give her a separate tryout? No matter what you do, someone will be mad
and you could take a "hit"...
I wouldn't wish this on anyone...good luck...

We had the same thing here with cheer and poms this spring. We granted
both girls spots on next year's squads based upon their past
performances. Their grades are good, so they aren't a liability there.
Their behavior and attitudes are fine too. No problems with them as
people, so it made the decision much simpler to "grandfather" them onto
next year's team.

If they had been questionable academically or socially, we may have had
to do something different.

We used the rationale that a sport coach may have an injured kid when
it's time to make roster cuts. If the coach knows the kid will be
healthy soon and knows the kid can play, the coach keeps the kid on the
team even if he's injured and other kids aren't.

Can sometimes fire up the folks whose kid was cut, but we always try to
do what's best for the team and the individual kids.

Hope things work out for you! Cheerleading tryouts is usually quite an

I encountered this problem when I was an athletic director. It turned
out being a nightmare. The parent agreed to having the coach show a
tape of this girl performing the year before to the judges. I had
checked with the coach and asked if there would be any question
whatsover. The coach said the girl would make it for sure. The parents
did agree to this and were okay with the entire process until the girl
did not make the squad. I thought this was a fair way to go about it,
because we made sure that we used judges that did not know the girls and
were not affiliated with the school. I know this might not have helped,
but I wanted to let you know of an option.
I experienced this one year when I was coaching. The girl actually tore
her ACL during a practice session. She came to tryouts, stood out and
did her yelling, smile, and motions. Since she would be a senior and I
had worked with her for 3 years, I knew what she was capable of and told
the judges (the girl could not tumble and jumped only fairly well). When
I totaled the scores, I went to where the biggest break was (where the
scores fell off) and drew the line (we never had a pre-set number - I
always went by where the scores broke and had between 12 - 16 team
members). I then looked it over and felt I had a strong argument to
include her in based on the scores she received and the scores she would
have received had she been healthy. I put her on and we never had a
Maybe I just got lucky, but hey - it worked! Good luck!!

If she was good last year, I would hold a spot open and give her a
second tryout. Or, just name her to the spot.

We use any prior video tapes that exist that show her