High school is supposed to be a place where students have the most fun, learn and enjoy new experiences. College applications are in the distant future, so it is a chance for teens to enjoy adolescence. That’s why what happened to a 13-year-old girl from Denver, Colorado shocked the world.
Ally Wakefield was excited to be part of her high school’s cheerleading team. Cheerleading is such a big sport in schools, being a cheerleader is cool and has many advantages such as boosting one’s self-esteem and confidence, leadership skills, teamwork and physical endurance. However, it is also one of the most challenging sports in the whole world as it requires a lot of strength, flexibility, coordination, and dedication.
Ally was an incoming freshman and had decided to attend a summer cheer camp at East High in June 2017. But she never expected to be taught by a coach who would push her to the point of tears, agony and even injury.
Cheerleading is a lot of work! It requires months and months of daily training for one to be able to do the splits. Ligaments and muscles have to be extended over a period of time before a person can maneuver into the position without hurting themselves. Coach Ozell Williams, however, ignored all logic when he forced girls on this cheerleading team into doing these difficult splits.
Ally happened to be one of the girls on his team, the little girl suffered a lot of pain. Thankfully, it was documented on camera by two other girls at the camp who were rightfully disturbed by what was happening to them. Despite the fact that she pleaded with Williams to stop forcing her into the agonizing position, Ally was mercilessly manhandled until she was forced to do the splits.
Coach Williams was recently hired by East High. Surprisingly, he has an impressive track record, training cheerleaders who have performed during Bronco football games – wowing audiences by doing impressive backflips. However, in order to achieve such impressive results, the coach uses some very disturbing techniques.
Forcing a person into doing the splits is known as “breaking.” or “forced splits” Apparently, it has emerged that Williams was fired from a previous position in 2016 for using this same technique while training cheerleaders.
Ally revealed how the coach put her through hell while training.
“It was tearing my ligament and my muscle at the same time,” Ally Wakefield revealed. ”He was pushing down on the back of my right leg. He was pushing like with his other knee on my back to try to keep my posture straight.”
Warning: The following video contains footage which some viewers may find distressing.
When Ally’s mom and her friends’ moms saw the disturbing footage of what was being done to their beloved daughters in June 2017, they immediately contacted the school’s principal, Andy Mendelsberg.
However, to their surprise, it took a subsequent two months after Ally’s mom sent this email for the police to be contacted and an investigation into Williams launched.
Ally’s mom, Kirsten Wakefield, revealed that her daughter sustained leg injuries as a result of the splits and she even could not walk well afterward.
“I have attached a video of the forced splits she and her other team members were forced to do at cheerleading camp and practices; unless they had a doctor’s note. This is how Ally injured her leg. My husband and I would like to know what the administration is going to do about my daughter’s injury and how it happened.”
The Denver police are currently investigating the incident. Some of the employees at the school including the school Principal Andy Mendelsberg, Williams and others have been placed on leave as a result of the unfortunate incident. Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools Superintendent, issued the following statement to assure parents that the incident was now being treated seriously after the shocking footage was anonymously passed into local news station KUSA-TV.
“I want to reiterate in no uncertain terms our commitment to the safety of our students. We absolutely prohibit any practices that place our students’ physical and mental health in jeopardy. We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop. While this investigation is ongoing, we are entirely focused on ensuring our students and staff at East are receiving the support they need.”
What happened to the East High cheerleaders is a dangerous reminder of how far some coaches like Williams will go to get results from their teams – results which in William’s case brought him personal acclaim.
We hope and pray that justice is served for the girls involved and wish Ally all the best recovering from this incident.
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