LODI (CBS13) — High-school football games in Lodi in for a big change. The cheerleaders on the sidelines have been benched, and their parents are demanding to know why.
“For this to be ripped away from us for something that’s not in our control is outrageous,” said Mia Aponte, a cheerleader on the varsity team. “I am shaking because I’m so mad right now.”
The devastation runs deep among the teens as the cheerleaders at Lodi High School face a future with no team.
“I’ve been wanting to cheer my entire life,” said Kiana Ayala, another cheerleader. “Ever since I was three!”
“It’s sad for them because they’re not going to get that opportunity now,” said Heather Robertson, the team’s coach, and a Lodi High alum.
The girls found out five days earlier after it was announced at freshman orientation. Principal Bob Lofsted explained why Tuesday night.
“Last year, cheer failed to fully pay off its debt,” he said. “We have had many problems associated with cheer. If it’s not been one thing, it’s been another.”
Lofsted’s words ignited a fire with the Flames and their parents.
“If you are in debt, we want to know so we can handle it and go forward in a good way,” said Michelle Lozano, one of the girls’ parents.
“The amount of money that we put in, you should be thanking us,” said Carrie Aponte. “If you take away this, you are going to be losing money!”
And after a contentious debate, Lofsted made a concession.
“There is an option here,” he began.
A probation period where the team stays but first has to pay outstanding debt, create a fundraising plan and restructure the program.
“They do that, they continue!” Lofsted said.
A flimsy solution for some parents, but a win for others.
“For now, at least we have a path forward to secure the program for at least another year,” said Sam Mitchell, a parent on the team.
Lofsted wouldn’t specify how much money the team owes, but gave them until April 6 to come up with a plan of action and present it to him. The parents also attended Tuesday night’s school board meeting to voice their concerns. The board agreed to discuss the issue at its next meeting on March 27.