HERMON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The days of cheerleading being just a sideline sport are long gone. Today squads compete in their own competitions that look more like an acrobatic performance with girls flipping and flying through the air. Even with the high levels of difficulty, squads find themselves defending their routines as being considered a sport.
Hermon High School cheering coach, Kristie Reed, knows the difficulty of the sport well. Her Hermon squad has earned four state championships in the last five years.
"It's responsibility, it's commitment, it's giving your best even when you don't feel like it," said Reed.
Her 17 girl squad practices every day from November to February. They practice, condition and break down every element of their routine to perfection. Preparation that comes at a price for some like Senior Catherine McElvain.
"I've hurt my neck numerous times, I've gotten punched in the face, scratches down the face, numerous bloody lips," said McElvain.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics more than 3 million American Girls are involved in cheering. Like McElvain, 26,000 of them are injured each year. To try to reduce those injuries the nations leading group of pediatricians is asking all states to recognize cheerleading as a sport.
As of this year, 29 states recognize cheering as a high school sport. Maine among them with our Regional and State Championships. Competitions that are no strangers to the Hermon Squad who are defending class B state champs.
"Every year everyone expects us to come with something bigger and better and we try to meet their standards," said Senior Destinee Knight.
After winning states, the Hermon squad is now qualified for the New England Cheering Championships held in Lawrence, Massachusetts next month.