Police in Denver, Colorado are investigating several disturbing videos that shows cheerleaders at a East High School cheer camp being forced into the splits. Several officials at the school have been placed on leave pending an investigation including the cheer coach, assistant cheer coach, high school principal, assistant principal and Denver Public Schools deputy general counsel. Ally Wakefield was an incoming freshman during her first week of cheer camp at East High School in June where she was forced into the splits by the recently hired cheer coach with the help of at least one other employee.
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In the videos, 8 new cheer leaders are shown with their arms being restrained while their legs are forced into extended splits. One video shows Wakefield crying out in pain during the incident. She asks at least 9 times in 24 seconds for them to stop but the cheer coach ignores her pleas. The cheer coach, Ozell Williams, can be seen in the video forcing the girls shoulders down extending the painful splits. Any athlete who is capable of doing the splits knows this is not a position that the human body can be instantly forced into with causing extreme pain and damage to the ligaments in the legs. Those who are able to do this maneuver attain the ability over years of practice where the legs are slowly stretched over time. This is not something that you can just force a person to do who does not already have the flexibility required. There will likely be criminal criminal charges as well as a lawsuit against the cheer coach and possibly the school itself.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Credit: KUSA-TV</span>
One of the cheer leader's mothers, Cheri Nickolay, was shown several videos by her daughter from the cheer camp. She said, "That made me sick to my stomach. I don’t know how you could justify that." Cameron MacDonald, an associate professor of physical therapy at Regis University, also weighed in on disturbing video saying "If I was to be personally present and witness to an approach to get a young girl to do the splits in that fashion, I would have stopped it. I know from myself as a physical therapist that is not the approach I would take."
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