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Unvaccinated cheerleaders allowed to compete for state championship after NYSPHSAA decision

New York State Public High School Athletic Association will limit the event's capacity, which means no spectators can attend March 5 in Rochester.

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. — After some pushback, high school cheerleaders who are not vaccinated will be able to compete for a state championship on March 5.

"We're just so happy," Starpoint High School mother Deanna Buttittia said.

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon after many parents and coaches complained about the venue's vaccine requirement, on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology.

"Over the course of the last few days, we have heard a tremendous amount of concerns pertaining to the vaccination requirement at the RIT facility that is scheduled to host our state cheerleading championship," said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA executive director.

Giuliana Colella, a freshman at Starpoint, told 2 On Your Side she was disappointed when she realized only half her team would qualify to compete with the vaccine requirement.

"It was really upsetting because it was one of those moments where it's like, we went through all of these competitions, we came so far, started from the bottom up, and built a routine just for our team to be split in half," she said.

However, during Friday's meeting, the executive committee voted to limit capacity to under 400 individuals to accommodate student-athletes on teams who qualified for the event. No spectators will be allowed in the venue.

“Although today’s action of the executive committee will result in spectators not being able to attend, all student-athletes will have the opportunity to represent their school and compete for the title of state champion.”

"We're just so happy, when we got this news I couldn't stop smiling because it's just awesome," Buttittia said.

The event will be live-streamed in the NFHS website.