the cheerleading worlds

Flipping the Status Quo with Cheerleader Kylana Whitley

For more on Kylana’s life as a competitive athlete, follow @kylana_whitley on Instagram.

For the safety of athletes like 16-year-old competitive cheerleader Kylana Whitley (@kylana_whitley), intense practice and concentration is required. “We put all of our phones in a box during practice, so we can really concentrate on what we’re doing,” says Kylana, who does both tumbling (acrobatic flipping) and stunting (lifting people into the air). Kylana spends much of her day in school, but continues her hard work long after classes are finished. “I’m on my school’s cheer team, so I stay after school for that. Then I typically go home for 15 minutes before I go to my cheer gym for up to three hours, five times a week.”

When she’s not defying gravity, Kylana gathers motivation from the athletes around her, both on the mat and online. “Black Girls Cheer (@ officialblackgirlscheer) features African-American cheerleaders and inspirational quotes, which is a great way to represent the diversity of the cheerleading world,” says Kylana. “When we go to competitions, we’ll have cheerleaders from different countries, but everyone is coming together for the love of the sport.”