By Kellen Browning,
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.