Maryland Twisters’ Cheer Controversy Leads to Policy Overhaul, Apology, and Coach’s Suspension

Published 12/11/2023, 2:39 PM EST

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Cheerleading is a sport where spirit and enthusiasm are key. However, the cheerleading team of Maryland Twister has recently been facing some issues. A 7-year-old cheerleader’s hair has caused a rift between the coach and the team, ultimately leading to their separation.

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What began as a routine competition took an abrupt turn into controversy unraveling an unexpected clash over the team’s hair policy. Maryland Twisters faced not only a revamped hair policy but a broader conversation about diversity, acceptance, and the lengths some are willing to go to uphold the spirit of cheerleading.

Unraveling of Maryland Twisters’ hair policy sparks debates and controversies 

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Recently the mother of a 7-year-old cheerleader from the Maryland team had a conversation with DC News Now. There, the mother of Ryan Brunson, SaRaya Woolridge spoke about a recent incident surrounding the team’s hair policy. In a recent competition, 7-year-old Ryan and team were given two options for their hairstyles for the day of the event. Either they were to tie a ponytail or they could tie their hair half up half down style only if the hair was up to shoulder. Woolridge chose the second style for her little daughter which she has previously done for several other events in past cheer seasons. 

This time things turned out differently as one of the coaches allegedly tried to tie up Ryan’s hair in a ponytail. Woolridge further shared that in a conversation over e-mail with the leaders of Maryland Twisters, they told her that Ryan “has much more hair” in person compared to her pictures. The team authority said, “Ryan does have a lot of beautiful hair. I know in your attached photos it seems similar to the girls in the photos. However, I did see her yesterday. She has much more hair than this photo shows. It is long in real life, because it’s all one length, and the other girls have their hair cut in shorter layers. With that said, Ryan needs to have her hair in a high pony.” This statement disappointed Woolridge as she took it as an act of indiscrimination.

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Things went out of hand as by the end of the conversation 7-year-old Ryan was left out of the team with the team stating in an e-mail, “Our values simply do not align. It’s best for both parties that you no longer continue at the Maryland Twisters program”.

This forced Woolridge to take this matter up on social media. She wrote, We are saddened at the allegations of racial bias and embrace our athletes of all races, creeds, genders, and experiences. All-star cheerleading and Maryland Twisters have provided an inclusive refuge for athletes and coaches alike for 26 years. We are proud of the diversity we draw to our cheerleading family and continue to provide options for our athletes that support inclusion, including genderless uniform choices and hair policies that support all races. We are open to course correction and continued inclusion is paramount.”

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Maryland Twisters face backlash and revamp rules post-allegations

After such a fiasco, a letter was sent by the CEO and President of the team to parents to apologize to those affected by this incident. The letter read, I am heartbroken for our athletes, coaches, and entire MDT family of gyms who have been impacted by the recent allegations that have now been shared widely. I want to wholeheartedly apologize to every family affected.”

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As the dust settles, the team has decided to modify and rebuild their rules and policies and has decided to take up such matters on an ‘individual basis’. Based on the unfolding of this incident, the coach involved in this particular matter has been removed from Maryland Twisters.

Watch This Story: Female Cheerleader Who Had a Career-Ending Moment of Tears During March Madness Drops Emotional 7 Word Message 

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Written by:

Disita Sikdar

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Words have the power to inspire and unite, and I am dedicated to making that happen! As a passionate Viral Sports writer at EssentiallySports, my past experiences as a content creator and social media manager have only fueled my drive to bring the world of sports to life. My love affair with American sports finds its epicenter in WWE. Since childhood, I have been enthralled by the dazzling world of WWE, captivated by its awe-inspiring storylines that blur the lines between sports and theatre! My coverage brings out the electrifying excitement of WWE, the poetic beauty of Soccer, and the fierce battles on the Tennis court.
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Arnima Shukla

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