Avon coaches react to viral video of cheerleader forced into the splits

Coaches react to disturbing cheerleader hazing

AVON, OH (WOIO) - A Denver Public Schools cheerleading coach has been fired after video went viral of him forcing cheerleaders into the splits.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said what he saw in the videos was "wrong," "dangerous and unacceptable."

Cleveland 19 News asked coaches at Top Gun Ohio how they felt about the technique Denver East High School Coach Ozell Williams used on athletes.

Top Gun Head Coach George Karadimas said he'd never seen forced flexibility done to that extreme. He said it was part of an old gymnastics practice done in other countries. It's not used at Top Gun in Avon.

"We're not pushing a child down to make them more flexible," said Karadimas.

Karadimas walked through the steps he takes to help athletes stretch into the splits. He said it can take athletes years to get flexible enough to do the splits.

"If you're a bodybuilder, you're not going to get big muscles overnight, or if you're a track star, you're not going to get fast overnight. It's all working progression to get to the flexibility, the desired flexibility, we look for in an athlete," said Karadimas.

At Top Gun they don't push athletes into painful positions. "Lyla can't get all the way down, and that's fine, it's not like I would come over here and physically put myself down on her," Karadimas said.

Instead, they take it slow and stretch. The athlete's body weight becomes the driving force for flexibility. It's a trusted way to help athletes get better, and also, stay safe.

At Top Gun, coaches are safety certified. Karadimas said athletes need to listen to their bodies and not push to the point of physical pain.

If you haven't trained and aren't flexible, it is possible to get seriously hurt if you're forced into the splits.

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.