Local coach offers tips for parents after viral video of cheerleaders forced into splits

Still from one of the videos obtained by 9Wants to Know
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As the owner of St. Louis Spirits Gymnastics Club, Kris Rogers has worked around children for 18 years. She had a hard time watching the video out of Denver in which a teen-aged girl was forced to do the splits.

“It was horrifying,” Rogers said. “I couldn't believe that anybody would do that. It was a child saying, ‘No, please stop, please stop’. And she was saying please with tears rolling down her eyes.”

But, the images have opened an opportunity to discuss what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in any sport.

“It could be culture in some gyms that the harder you push or the more it hurts, the better it is. What you want to look for is a gym where that's not the culture,” Rogers said.

Rogers said her gym stresses safety. The coaches undergo rigorous training, and they also follow the guidelines set by the USA Gymnastics organization.

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Rogers recommends that parents get to know their coaches and ask questions.

“I think you want to get to know the coaches and their philosophy. Is winning number one? Or is the health and well-being of your child number one?” Rogers said.

Also, talk to your kids about what is happening in practice, and don’t be afraid to attend some practices.

“If you have an athlete that loved their sport and all of a sudden, something is wrong, it's ok to stop in a practice, stop in from time to time,” Rogers said. “Of course, we want them to on the top of the podium and number one at everything they do, but not at the expense of risking their emotional or physical well-being.”