BREAKING: Eight cheerleaders quit over team dispute

Eight cheerleaders quit the team Thursday over complaints of bullying and lack of response from administration.
Eight cheerleaders quit the team Thursday over complaints of bullying and lack of response from administration. (Courtesy: R. Vitangcol)

By Kellen Browning, Editor-in-Chief–

Six Davis High varsity cheerleaders–nearly half the varsity team–quit Thursday, Jan. 7 over charges of teammates bullying other teammates as well as lack of administrative response to complaints; two JV cheerleaders joined them. The departed cheerleaders include senior varsity captain Alyssa Vitangcol and a JV captain.

“The main reason why I quit was because of how hostile and unsafe the environment felt,” Vitangcol said. “It’s sad that only a few individuals have dominated how a practice would run. […] I wanted to make a stand and show that we shouldn’t allow this kind of behavior on our team. It isn’t fair to let these people get away and not learn from the consequences of their actions.”

Senior Kathleen Pan, who also quit, said the bullying included verbal abuse and online slandering of team members.

The HUB has sent emails and texts to cheer coach Tamara Reed and an email to Athletic Director Jeff Lorenson asking for comment but has not yet received responses.

Vitangcol said she sent emails to Superintendent Winfred Roberson, Lorenson, Principal William Brown and Vice Principals Tom McHale and Amelia Hess with a letter written by all the girls.

The letter, provided to The HUB by Pan, mentioned that “inappropriate and tormenting behavior” and “harassment” from teammates caused one cheerleader to quit earlier in the season, and says that “the coach was well aware of the situation, yet never fully acted to protect those victimized.”

Vitangcol says she sent Reed an email with a separate note expressing the girls’ frustration at the lack of response.

“Recently, we have felt betrayed over the fact that you have allowed such behavior to be accepted on this squad,” the girls said in the note. “We feel that action should have been taken place [sic] long before now. By having these individuals still practicing alongside us, we all feel unprotected and vulnerable to their harassment.”

Pan and Vitangcol named the cheerleaders they said have bullied others on the team, and The HUB has reached out to one of them but has not heard back.

With eight cheerleaders departed, senior Kalysta Holder, who is still on the team, says varsity and JV will be combined to bring the total team number up to 17–although Pan anticipates three more cheerleaders quitting soon.

“We will be combining teams and continuing on for basketball season. However, we won’t be doing competition season this year,” Holder said.

Holder said that at Thursday’s practice the team “talked about where we would be going forward from here.”

“We want to make the best out of the situation and the end of the season. We also discussed people leaving and how there aren’t hard feelings towards those that decided not to continue on with cheer,” she said.

The cheerleaders who quit are anticipating a meeting with the administration soon, and Pan says that they will be interviewed by Channel 10 News this afternoon.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

4 thoughts on “BREAKING: Eight cheerleaders quit over team dispute

  • January 8, 2016 at 8:27 PM

    Power to them for standing with their beliefs and values!!! I would love to pass on the message to those members who quit that you can leave cheer in high school and still do it in college – it’s not a penalty of any kind. And in college, crap like bullying isn’t left un-checked.

    Also, University uniforms are cuter.

  • January 8, 2016 at 11:51 PM

    Personally, I think the issue has been blown out of proportion and isn’t nearly as big a deal as those who quitted are making it out to be. From what I know, it seems to be more of a personal issue between two girls than anything, and some of the people who left only did so because their friends were or because they had a separate reason. I remain on the team despite being encouraged to quit several times.

  • January 15, 2016 at 12:34 PM

    I’m glad that someone has finally taken action. My daughter (who was between 5th-6th grade) was horribly bullied by a few Davis Blue Devils Cheerleaders back in 2011. The bullying girls were in 7th and 8th grade at the time, I noticed that the girl who bullied my daughter was in the photo for this article, so I assume she is still there. The bullying was so nasty that I took my daughter out of cheer at the end of the season. (And I can’t believe that older girls would be so mean to a little 5th grade girl.) And yes, I did complain. Unfortunately, I complained to the head coach who was the mother of the chief girl who was bullying my daughter. Needless to say, nothing happened and the bullying actually got worse. This team has had issues since 2011 and I praise the girls who quit the team, which sends very strong message.

    For the ‘Anonymous cheerleader’ who said it has been ‘blown out of proportion’–if you were the one being bullied, you wouldn’t agree. There should be zero tolerance for bullying. Why did it take this long (5 years) for someone to listen? Was my complaint of bullying from 2011 ever even logged? And will the girl(s) doing the bullying finally get a reprimand or is everyone going to put their head in the sand again?

  • January 15, 2016 at 12:50 PM

    We need more information on this subject before we make a judgement. Like the anonymous cheerleader who commented here, this may have been exaggerated. I don’t think we should be cheering for these girls until we know the details that are the basis of their decision. “Bullying” is a very vague term without clarification. We need more details. Don’t go egging these girls on blindly without knowing the facts.

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