It's been an ongoing debate: Is cheerleading an activity or a sport? In New York State, that debate was settled this week - and cheerleading named an official sport. For one local cheer team...it was perfect timing.
For years it's been a debate. Cheerleading...is it a sport or not? But this week the state of New York has finally silenced the critics. Cheerleading is officially a sport.
"I can finally tell all the people at school who tell me it's not a sport, 'in your face,'" says Alyssa Clayton, cheerleader.
For the girls at Empire Cheerleading, the announcement was perfect timing. After earning a bid at a competition in Rochester, they're headed to Rhode Island today for U.S. finals.
"It feels great. You have to work hard for that and you have to make sure you love each other and that you'll do whatever it takes to work together," says Julianna Gilleece, cheerleader.
Even though winning is on the mind…
"We really, really, really want the white jackets," says Clayton.
The girls know this weekend will be more than a competition.
"We all love each other and it's great at the competitions when we're staying at hotels because we all go to the pool and stunt and everything. It's super fun," says Gilleece.
But after the competition lights go down and the trophies are handed out, the Empire All Starz will know a bigger competition has already been won.
“All of our athletes wanted to be respected by other athletes. That's all we've ever really asked for and it's nice to finally be recognized as a fellow athlete with all the other sports in New York State," says Joann Falcone, co-owner.
On Friday, the Empire All Starz travel to the competition in Rhode Island. And then on Saturday they will take the mat and begin a full weekend of competing.