O’Malley: Florence One cheerleaders still allowed aerial stunting

August 3, 2018

Richard O'Malley

FLORENCE, S.C. – Aerial stunting is allowed, as it has always been, for Florence One Schools cheerleading teams, according to superintendent Richard O’Malley, working his first day on the job Thursday.

This comes after a Wednesday news release sent to Myrtle Beach-based television stations WBTW and WPDE by Pam Little-McDaniel, the school district’s director of public information, stated otherwise.

McDaniel’s release, according to the two stations, stated:

“It has been recommended by the McLeod Athletic Training Department for the safety of all cheerleaders, that aerial stunting (i.e. any lifting or where cheerleaders are in the air) be eliminated. It has been further noted that aerial stunting could pose a danger to students involved in the sport of cheerleading. Upon this recommendation, school(s) that may have been involved in aerial stunting have decided to refrain from it in order to maintain safety of the cheerleading sport here in Florence One Schools.”

That, according to O’Malley, is not the case.

“Every part of the cheerleading program will exist as it has in the past,” he said.

After being asked how this miscommunication happened that enraged the Florence cheerleading community on social media, O’Malley explained.

“Today is my first day on the job. And, I guess that was something that went out yesterday,” O’Malley said. “And, I had to clarify that in my first day what we were doing in the district. I don’t know how it came to that yesterday and how that got miscommunicated. I was not a part of that.

“But, I want to make it clear that the cheerleading program, as it has in the past, will continue. It’s a very strong program in our district, and we’d love to support it even more moving forward.”

After being asked if Wednesday’s miscommuncation was the result of someone else in FSD1, O’Malley responded, “I’d say my communication is the communications representative of Florence One Schools, today.”

In a Thursday news release by Little-McDaniel, it stated O’Malley called upon the American Association of Coaches and Administrators to provide district-wide training and certification “so that coaches will be able to educate the coaches and our student-athletes.” South Carolina safety certification instructor Elaine Elliott, who works with the AAAA, said since 1991, she has trained cheerleading coaches across South Carolina, including Greenville and Horry counties.

“Our objective is the safety of the student-athletes,” O’Malley stated in the release. “We encourage our student-athletes to be competitive, but at the same time, we will employ the safety training so that our coaches will be certified in order to help our cheerleaders demonstrate their talents in the safest manner possible.”

FSD1 athletic directors met with O’Malley on Thursday morning, and they are reaching out to the AAAA to assist its cheerleading coaches to enhance safety measures in school cheering programs, according to the release.

“I look forward to coming to Florence One Schools,” Elliot said. “Once (cheerleading) coaches are educated, they learn what they should and should not do, so that they may reduce risks that may be involved in any of the aspects of cheering.”

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