Flying High

A glimpse at one of IHSA’s most fearless athletes

Sophomore Mia Testa is hoisted into the air

Courtesy of Stuart Rodgers

Sophomore Mia Testa is hoisted into the air

Katy Donati, Executive Editor

Standing at just 4’10” and weighing under 90 pounds, sophomore Mia Testa doesn’t have the stature of a typical athlete. However, her size and flexibility make her the perfect candidate for a flyer: cheerleading’s most dangerous position.

A flyer is an athlete who is lifted and tossed in the air during cheerleader routines, a vital member of every stunt group. It is a position that requires focus, trust, and unwavering courage.

“To be a good flyer you have to be able to have good balance and take the blame if you fall,” says Testa. “It is also important to have confidence in your bases and your backspot, without it anyone in the stunt group could get hurt very easily.”

In addition to the mental hurdles of the sport, flyers have to overcome physical boundaries as well.

“Being in the air takes body control,” says Testa. “If your body is loose and you are not staying tight, you could fall a certain way and injure yourself.”

According to a 2013 Washington Post article, cheerleading was the cause of more than half of the “catastrophic injuries to female athletes,” with flyers leading the cause. Stunt groups must practice constant concentration and communication to prevent a fatal misstep.

Along with focusing on their body control and surroundings, flyers must also be aware of their face and body language. On top of being lifted and tossed through the air, flyers are also expected to maintain a smile and happy facial expressions at all times.

“At first it was one of the scariest things ever,” admits Testa. “But as I learned more and got better I have been more confident  to try new things.”

“However, I do I still close my eyes sometimes,” Testa confesses.