SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Cheerleading used to bring a huge smile to 16-year-old Laylonie Dowdell’s face.
She says lately it’s brought her nothing but heartache and embarrassment.
Dowdell claims her cheerleading coaches at Shaker Heights High School went too far.
“She stood up in front of the team and said ‘Laylonie, you’re always eating something. What are you putting in your mouth now?’ I was just so sad. I did gain a few pounds, but you know it’s hard coming from your coach. You’re supposed to be there to help and mentor me.”
The teen says the coaches made her wear a uniform shirt that’s too small, even after her mom offered to pay for a new one.
When she told them her warm-up pants didn’t fit, she says they were mean again.
“They told me to run up and down the street to the stop sign until my ride got there, and they laughed afterword,” said Dowdell.
Her mother, Lakessa Taylor, couldn’t take seeing her daughter so upset.
“She wasn’t just crying tears. She was broken. She couldn’t breath,” said Taylor. She says she spoke with the assistant principal on Monday.
On Thursday night, she sent an email to the principal describing the effect this situation was having on her daughter’s mental health and self-esteem. She also asked why she wasn’t updated on the situation.
A letter went out to all families Thursday explaining the head coach decided she no longer wanted to coach.
Taylor said, “I think the school is trying to cover this up. I have reason to believe this is not an isolated incident. My daughter has to have therapy and counseling because of something you did to her. I sent her to you unbroken, and you sent me back a broken child.”
Cleveland 19 also sent an email to the school and the now-former head cheerleading coach.
We have not yet heard back.