Boyle cheerleaders get self-defense training

November 16, 2003|GARY MOYERS

High school cheerleading squads spend countless hours each year learning flips, jumps, stands and yells.

One local squad is also learning to hit.

Boyle County High School cheerleading coach Donna Groves enrolled her 23 squad members in a Rape Aggression Defense class offered by the Danville Police Department, and halfway through the four-class course, awareness of potential problems is on the rise.

"It's hit home - just the other night I got in my car to go home after practice, and I looked in the back seat every five minutes to make sure nobody was there," said junior cheerleader Sandra Hoormann. "It makes you think, and it opened my eyes a lot."

RAD educates women on personal safety and self-defense techniques, and was first offered by Danville police in the spring. Course participants are taught physical defense techniques and have the opportunity to practice and use these techniques during simulations. Officers Sally Bustle and Scott Cavazos, certified RAD instructors, teach the program. Both have been certified as RAD instructors.


Groves said recent reports of aggressive assaults of coeds on college campuses in Kentucky brought home to her that she is responsible for the safety of a group of girls who are constantly walking to their cars or getting off buses in dark parking lots. She heard about the RAD program through her job as Danville city clerk, and asked Cavazos if her squad could enroll.

"We're out a lot, alone, in the dark, and I thought this would be a good technique for our girls to know," she said. "The parents and school have been totally supportive of us doing this, and some other groups have asked me about it."

The first class consisted of instruction designed to educate the participants about potential dangers and how to avoid them. The second class was three hours of self-defense instruction.

"They got to hit things that second night, and they really liked that" said Groves. "After three hours they wanted more."

Junior Ashley Wilson agreed.

"That part was fun," she said. "But, the officers emphasize how serious this is, and I think we all got it. You just never know if anyone might be hiding in your house or some other place you go. It makes you more aware of what's going on around you."

The squad will hold two more nights of instruction before they "graduate" from the class.

"We're substituting this for our regular cheerleading practices," said Groves, who is taking the class with her cheerleaders. "I think it's that important. I've learned a lot myself. It doesn't matter how old you are, this is good training. I hope I never have to use it, but I feel better knowing I've had some training."

Hoormann said word is going around school that the cheerleaders are getting tougher.

"Word's getting out that we're karate experts or something," she said. "But lots of other girls in school are asking us about the class, and I tell them they should take it. There's some scary things going on out there these days."

"I would recommend it to anyone," said Groves. "It's hit home with us lately because we go home after dark, and parking lots can be scary places. It's a sign of the world we live in now, that this is necessary, but it is. This is important information for any woman to learn."

The class is free, and Cavazos said he and Bustle have conducted four classes in the past five months. Anyone interested in scheduling a class should call the police department at (859) 238-1224.

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