Tuesday night, in what should have been a routine move during a half-time performance at the Orlando Magic game, performer Jamie Woode suffered an ugly fall onto the hardwood.
After some tense moments on the floor, she was wheeled off on a stretcher. She broke three vertebrae and broke a rib, but fortunately, she didn't suffer any serious head injuries.
The incident raises questions about how cheerleading is classified, and whether it should be changed. The American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for cheerleading to be considered a sport nationwide. That would allow more access to qualified coaches, medical care and practice facilities.
"I can't stress enough that was a freak accident, not something that happens all the time," said Peter Lezin, owner of Brandon All Stars.
Inside the Brandon All-Stars Training facility young cheerleaders fly high. These young ladies make it look easy thanks to hours of training because they know one wrong move could lead to serious injury.
"When we teach stunts we teach the basic level all the way up," Lezin said.
Coach and owner Peter Lezin focuses on technique making sure the girls pay attention to every detail.
"I think it is safe if it is done correctly. I think it is safe if you follow all your progressions," Lezin said.
But like the Orlando crowd saw, injuries do happen. Annually there are 26,000 injuries, mostly sprains and strains, but head and neck issues are common too.
Colleen Jackson's daughter has had her fair share of doctor visits, but pushes on just like an athlete in any other sport.
"Even though they're not tackling they're doing things that I think are qualified as a sport," she said.
A sport that 13-year-old Alyssa White doesn't plan on giving up anytime soon. She says Tuesday's fall only serves to increase her motivation to always get it right.
"It is a ton of practice. It's a lot of hard work," she says.
Woode is expected to make a full recovery.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?