Q. Can we still tryout in May?

A. Unfortunately, no. We follow MPSSAA rules regarding first tryout and play dates. In the fall, that date is around August 15th. In the winter, the date is November 15th. All the other state recognized sports — including swimming, wrestling, and golf — also follow these rules. It gives us a common ground for competitions – every team has the same amount of time to practice so there are no unfair advantages.

Q. I don’t think I can get my team ready if I start in August.

A. Everyone else is starting then, too, so you know you are on an even playing field. It may take spending a little more time on the basics at the beginning of the season, but those building blocks will pay off — especially as you are building your team for the future. You will be amazed what your kids can do when they are challenged. You also know that all kids can be at all the practices and the team is set. No working around vacations, work, changing minds, etc. They are back in school and locked in to the schedule.

Q. There aren’t enough competition opportunities. We like to travel.

A. You have the ability to compete in up to 6 competitions per season: 3 invitationals, your Counties, and possibly Regionals and States (if you qualify). The invitational competitions are against public and private high schools from Maryland. We are currently looking into expanding our sanctioning to allow competition against teams from Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware as well. The average number of teams that attend these competitions is 20. We have separate divisions for JV and Varsity just like other MPSSAA recognized sports. The highest entry fee you will pay this season is $150 per team. The only competitions we can not attend are those sponsored/held by for-profit companies, or those held after our play-offs begin (regional competitions).

Q. We want to expose our team to all parts of cheerleading, and don’t want to keep competing against the same teams.

A. At our invitationals, you are competing against 10 other teams on average. The overlap of the teams that attend the competitions is minimal. At “all-star” hosted competitions, you are usually only competing against a few other schools or just against a score. These school teams may follow different rules than NFHS, which gives them an edge on the score sheets there. As a judge for all-star companies, I can attest that the caliber of cheerleading in our organization is yards above that of the teams that attend these for-profit organization competitions. Come to our Regional or State competitions and see how great those teams are. So, you travel a little, but what are you exposing your team to? Quality or quantity? Stunts they can try, or ones they aren’t allowed to try because they don’t follow NFHS rules? Earning their trophy/title or paying for one? You want them to see all-star competitions, go as spectators and watch. Or host a competition at your school as a fundraiser.

Q. But, we can earn a National title at these outside competitions.

A. Are you earning that title, or paying for it? What does the “national” title really mean? There are over 40 National competitions a year and that is just on the East Coast. They aren’t truly “national” titles because only local teams attend. The majority of the public schools in the states of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and Ohio can’t attend because it is against their state rules, so who are you competing against? Two teams in your county could attend national competitions hosted by two different companies and come back to your county and claim they are National Champions. How can there really be two? How do you explain that to the non-cheer people? Which school is actually best? At our State Competition, there is a single elimination championship series that ends in ONE definitive State Champion. You can hang the banner in the gym with the other MPSSAA recognized sports and know that you earned that title by competing against other equal teams, and you are the ONLY one.

Q. We like to go to camp during the summer.

A. So do we, and we do. There are ways around the rules to allow our teams to have the same opportunities. If they are willing, the Athletic Boosters can funnel the money through their accounts. If you have more than 80% of your team going to the camp, you will need to find a volunteer coach or a parent to be the official chaperone, but if you happen to be taking the coaching classes at the same camp… Also, think about how much coaching you actually do at camp. Aren’t we usually in those classes while the camp instructors take over? What is the point of camp for your team? Do you actually get cheers, dances, and stunts that you use in competition or throughout the year? Is it for team building/bonding? Is it to learn basic skills? All of those things can be accomplished without going to camp, too. You could also host a personal stunt or dance camp at your school that is completely personalized to your team’s needs. That option is often cheaper, too.

Q. What are the competition guidelines we would have to follow?

A. Once you get to the Regional/State level the following rules apply:

  • A. 42’x42’ mat (7 panels)
  • B. ALL MUSIC allowed (change from the past) — up to 2 min 30 sec
  • C. Must have a cheer section that is NOT voiced over in the music
  • D. Up to 25 athletes on the mat
  • E. Must not have competed at any non-sanctioned events
  • F. Must follow all NFHS safety rules