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COVID-19 cuts season short for cheer teams in Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. — As high school sports make a return this fall, some parents are demanding equal treatment between male and female activities.

In Hillsborough County, cheer teams will not be allowed to perform at away games.

It’s all in an effort to cut back on crowds, according to district officials.

“It’s definitely my happy place,” said Gabi Reyes, captain of Gaither High School’s varsity cheer team. “Being on the sidelines and seeing the whole school there to support the team, that’s a different level of energy.”

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Reyes says her senior season has been cut in half, with only four home games on the schedule.

ABC Action News has learned, neighboring school districts — Polk, Pinellas and Pasco — are allowing cheer squads to travel within the county to perform at away games.

“Cheerleaders can definitely social distance, they can social distance six feet, 10 feet,” said Amy Reyes. “We can make provisions not to tumble.”

Reyes remains hopeful that coronavirus cases will go down and her squad can once again roam the sidelines offering spirited support.

“We need the cheerleaders there,” said Reyes. “We need fans to be there.”

Hillsborough County Public Schools released the following statement:

“Hillsborough County Public Schools has created a robust plan that allows student-athletes to compete in the safest manner possible while mitigating the impacts of COVID-19. Each student-athlete participating in his or her respective Fall sport will be provided four tickets that can be purchased for family members or friends at home and away games. With the need to social distance there is significantly less capacity at our stadiums limiting the number of spectators that can attend.

We are excited to be able to have both our cheerleaders and band at home games, where spectators have additional seating and can safely socially distance.

Cheerleaders and band members will also receive four spectator tickets to each home game. We know how important cheerleaders and band members are for the spirit and culture at each home game. Our district looks forward to the Winter when cheerleaders will be taking part in their athletics season, at home and traveling to competitive events.”

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