Beyond the Pom-Poms

It's no longer just a wholesome way to hang with hunky quarterbacks. Cheerleading is serious business

Thirty cheerleaders are leaping across mats in a dizzying blur of motion and power. A double back handspring whips by, making room for another and another. Then, as Queen blares over a CD player, three groups interlock hands and hurl three tiny teammates 30 ft. into the air. Like fireworks, the girls' bodies hang, open, then descend gracefully into the arms of waiting teammates.

What's missing from this frenzy of teenage motion is any cheers for the high school football squad. These girls are themselves hard-working athletes, members of the World Cup Shooting Stars, an extracurricular, all-star team of 12-...

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