Saturday, May 28, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

Chattahoochee High School 2010-2011 Competition Squad

This small squad of only 12 girls, with a crazy name, proves that you don't need a lot of girls to rock the floor. With some creativity, this squad pulled off stunts that normally would be done by a larger squad. Even though they placed second at this competition, they still did an amazing job.

We Do More Than You Think

,Today was my first day back to the work force. After a long school year, it was time to put my lifeguard suite and whistle back on and sit up in that chair. This will be my third year guarding and I'd like to fill you in on 15 things we lifeguards won't tell you, according to

1. We clean the bathrooms ...
Everyday my duties include wiping down sinks, cleaning mirrors, and the extremely dreaded chore of cleaning the toilets.

2. ... and run the concession stand

3. We can't watch everyone
 "Even the best lifeguards can miss something while watching a crowded beach with over 200 swimmers. Never assume that the lifeguards will do their job perfectly."
-- Noah, a Jersey Shore ocean lifeguard for more than 10 years

4. Our pool shouldn't smell like chlorine

5. We don't always clear the pool after an "accident" ...

6. ... and if we do, it's not always real
 "At one point, a fellow lifeguard and I sank a Snickers bar so we could have an hour break and make everyone clear the pool. It was the best time ever ... we ordered lunch from a local pizza shop."
-- Alan, a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, lifeguard for two years

7. We need you to watch your kids

8. We swim after we eat

9. Thunder is our best friend
On days when we know that there is a chance of a thunderstorm, all the guards pay especially close attention to the sky and for thunder. The second we think we hear some, even if it might be a passing truck, we clear the pool. And we're not letting you back in for 30 minutes.
10. We hate floaties
"Arm floaties or swimsuits with life jacket-like belts sewn in are, in fact, dangerous. It's a false sense of security. An arm floatie can pop and strand a weak swimmer far from a wall or shallow water. The life jacket belts can just as easily hold a kid upside down on the surface as right side up. There is no replacement for teaching your kids water safety skills and keeping a close watch."
-- Mary, a San Francisco lifeguard for 10 years

11. The thought of doing CPR scares us

12. We know when you drop your kids off
"If you're leaving your children at the pool for more than four hours every day, we're going to be on a first-name basis and know your entire life story -- even if we've never met you."
-- Greg, a Texas lifeguard and pool manager for five years

13. We have rules for a reason

14. We care about tan lines
Although highly discouraged by medical experts everywhere, tanning is a part of sitting in the sun all day. So it makes sense that lifeguards are the unofficial experts.

15. We're still kids ourselves
 I started life guarding when I was 16 years old.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Genetic Testing To Find Your Inner All-Star

I tried gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball, and field hockey before I decided to stick with cheerleading. Most children, like me, will have tried at least three different sports by the time they are in middle school. According to The Washington Post, two companies have begun selling tests that claim to help match kids with the sports they are genetically programmed to play best.

The DNA scans, the first of an expected wave of attempts to use genes to enhance athletic performance, can steer children toward games they are most likely to win and perhaps get scholarships to play, the companies say. The tests also let children and adults tailor workouts to their innate skills, the firms say, as well as spot those prone to life-threatening heart problems, concussions and other injuries. “The main purpose of the test is to maximize performance in the minimum amount of time and minimize risk,” said Bill Miller, chief executive of American International Biotechnology
Services in Richmond, which began selling the test three weeks ago.

Critics, however, see the kits as the latest in a flood of questionable genetic tests that entrepreneurs are hawking. No one can accurately gauge the influence of genes on athletic abilities or vulnerabilities, they say. The results may be needlessly alarming or falsely reassuring, they say. Skeptics also fear that the trend will encourage overzealous parents and coaches to push kids into sports they dislike or discourage them from physical activities they enjoy and might succeed at despite their genes.

“This is really disturbing,” said Lainie Friedman Ross, a pediatrician and bioethicist at the University of Chicago. “Sports and physical activity should be fun for kids. It shouldn’t be, ‘You’re going to be the world’s greatest athlete’ or ‘Give up now, kid, because you won’t have a chance’ because of your genes.”

This seems like an article straight from the movie GATTACA. While our genes might hold some secrets into which sports we will be best at, I see more bad coming out of these tests than good. What if everyone is made to get these tests done before becoming part of a varsity sport? And what if their test comes back saying that they are not a good match for the sport? Can the coaches discriminate against them and not even let them tryout? I feel like this would become a big issue, because lets face it, sports coaches are out there to put together the best team possible and if someones genetic test says they're not a good match for the sport then coaches are probably going to cut them. Also, these tests take away the experiences a child gets from trying new sports. These experiences teach a child to persevere and how to fail. But with all those pushy parents out there, who want their child to be a super-star athlete, these tests might be done more often then we'd expect.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

Grave County High School Competition Squad 2011

This coed squads performance at the 2011 UCA National Championships looked more like that of a collegiate squad than a high school squad. Grave County definitely used their man power to their advantage, using them for their amazing stunting and tumbling abilities to set them apart from the other coed squads. They received the title of National Champs in the Large Varsity coed division. With this title they became the second team to win the division 3 years in a row. Also, the second team to win the division 5 times.

International All-Levels Championship

Varsity All-Star created this program in order to give all squads, no matter what level, a chance win a first place title. During the competitive season, squads qualified at over 400 partner events.

Watch the --eightpart award show on Varsity TV. The show includes highlights from every level. And who knows, maybe the hosts will mention your squad if you participated in this event.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Immunizations for Children in Haiti

For most countries, immunization for all is something that has been going on for a while. However, this is not the case in Haiti and a few other third world countries. According to The New York Times, Haiti has come up with a plan to immunize 90 percent of its newborns by 2015. However, the country now needs over $100 million to carry it out.

Assuming that GAVI — the former Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization — approves the plan, Haiti will be the last country in this hemisphere to adopt a pentavalent vaccine that protects against Haemophilus influenzae type B, or Hib, and hepatitis B, as well as diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. The plan will also include the relatively new rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.

The ambitious plan depends on international support, which poured in after the earthquake and cholera epidemic. Major improvements will be needed, said Dr. Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, liked building a solar-powered “cold chain” to keep vaccines refrigerated as they are distributed to rural clinics. And even assuming GAVI approval, donations are still $21 million short.

Immunization is something that all children should have done; it keeps them from contracting deadly diseases. And it just does not seem fair that children in Haiti cannot have this life saving procedure done. With a little research you could probably find out where you can send donations to help Haiti reach its goal so they may have the equipment to immunize their children.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

Chapin High School Competition Cheerleading Squad 09-10

This squad placed 1st in their division for this performance. This squad obviously has a lot of tumbling experience; I mean, the whole team did round off tucks. However, what I did not like about this routine was the length of their cheer, it seemed too wordy and you could hardly hear what they were saying. But, what I did appreciate was the originality in their stunts and how their choreography seemed to match their music.

Senior Prom

With senior year coming to an end, prom was my last big event before graduation. And this years prom was everything I had hoped it would be. The week started out with tanning, nail and hair appointments and a dress fitting, along with all my other responsibilities like homework. Then Saturday finally came and the day got started right at noon with my aunt messing with my hair. By 1:30 P.M. my make-up was done and it was time to put my dress on. Then the picture taking began and lasted till 5:00P.M., needless to say I have enough photographs to remember every second of that day.
After we were finally done getting pictures taken, we ate dinner at my friends house. There was tons of food:  we had our choice of chicken or steak or, like many of the guys choose, both; then there were twice baked potatoes, cheesy potatoe casserol, pasta salad, salad, fried rice, shrimp, rolls, and maccoronie and cheese; and for dessert we had chocolate covered strawberries, sugar cookie cake, boston cream pie, cupcakes, fruit pizza, and brownies. After we gorged ourselves full of delicious food, we then headed off to prominade to show off our outfits. Then it was time for the main event, the prom. Easily the best part of the night, we spent hours on the dance floor having a blast and taking even more pictures. At the end of the night we returned to where we had our dinner and began to eat what was left over from our meal. I now feel like I'm in a food comma from eating constantly all last night and this morning, but it was worth it because we all had a blast.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Team USA

Ever wonder if there was an Olympic team for cheerleading? Well not quite, but close; Team USA competes with over 60 countries at the International Cheer Union World Championship. The team conducts a national search for America's top cheerleaders to put together one all girl and one coed cheer team. I would love to try out for the team one day, and if there's anyone else who would like information on tryouts go to USA Cheer.

Want to find out what it would be like to be on the squad; visit Varsity TV and watch the 10 episodes called Going for Gold, which documents the teams journey to the International Cheer Union World Championship in 2010.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

Japan Cheer MIXED Cheerleading World Championships 2009

Cheerleading may have originated in the United States. but it has now become a popular sport all over the world. This Japan team from 2009 is amazing. This squad is not a high school squad, well at least I do not think they are, but they member of the team seem to be around the high school age at least. One major difference between U.S. squads and Japan squads is their stunts. Japan teams, including this one, have extremely difficult stunts jam packed through out their whole routine; where as a U.S. squad would only have a few. However, the U.S. squads seem to have a lot more tumbling through out their routines and seem to have more difficult passes. All in all, cheerleading have now become a global sport and it's interesting to see how each country performs their routine.

Low-calorie Lunches

Every once and a while, it's nice to go out and grab a bite to eat with a friend. But for those of us watching what we eat, this could be a major set back in our new diet. However, it doesn't have to be, here are seven healthy lunch ideas for when you're dinning out, according to

1. Pizza
Choose 2 slices of Domino's medium hand tossed Philly Steak Pizza:
400 calories, 14 grams fat (6g sat), 840mg sodium.
2. Asian
P.F. Chang's Asian Grilled Salmon Lunch Bowl:
320 calories, 5 grams of fat (1g sat) and only 570 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Round out the meal with a side of garlic snap peas:
64 calories, 2g fat, 107mg sodium.
3. Burger
Surprisingly, go for a McDonald's Hamburger:
250 calories, 9 grams of fat (3.5g sat) and 520 milligrams of sodium.
At such low numbers, this burger leaves room for a 20-calorie side salad (add a serving of Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette for only 40 calories if you prefer) and small fry (230 calories, 11 grams fat (1.5g sat) and 160mg sodium).
4. Salad
Our top salad pick is Atlanta Bread Company's Salsa Fresca Salmon Salad. This corn and black bean salad adds fiber (6 grams) to this 560 calorie main dish salad with an appetite quenching 38 grams of protein, just 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 590 milligrams of sodium.
5. Chicken
Wendy's Grilled Chicken Go Wrap:
260 calories, with 10 grams of fat (3.5 g sat) and 750mg sodium.
Add a garden side salad (25 calories, 30mg sodium)
and a Mandarin Orange Cup (90 calories, 10 grams of sodium).
6. Sandwich
Ask for 9-grain wheat bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers and your tab for a Subway 6-inch Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich:
320 calories, 4.5 grams fat (1g sat) and 750mg sodium.
7. Seafood
P.F. Chang's Mahi Mahi:
420 calories, 17 grams of fat (8g sat) and 605mg sodium

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Revising the MCAT

As an aspiring doctor, once I make it through my first four years as a biology major, I'll have to start studying for the most important test of my life, the MCAT. The MCAT is basically the "wanna be doctor's SAT" and as a wanna be doctor, I'm going to have to take it. Now, it's not like this will be my first big standardized test; I mean, ever since high school started I've been bombarded with PSSA's, finals, PSAT's, SAT's, AP tests, and just regular everyday exams.  Even though I do not agree, it really seems like testing is the preferred way to asses if a person knows the material or not. However, if that doesn't cause enough stress, the creators of the MCAT are going to revise it, according to The New York Times.

The first MCAT, then referred to as the Scholastic Aptitude Test for Medical Schools, was administered in 1928 and represented an effort to address the significant medical school dropout rates of the time. Over the years, the MCAT has gone through four major revisions and has only strengthened its ability to predict success in medical school, particularly when evaluated in combination with grades. But the MCAT has had one major failing in its otherwise brilliant performance: It has been unable to consistently predict personal and professional characteristics. As early as 1946, medical educators were trying to design the MCAT in a way that might tease out such information, but they, and those who followed, were unable to succeed.

Now the MCAT is about to undergo its fifth revision, the first in nearly 25 years. Last month, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the national organization that administers the MCAT, recommend, among other things, lengthening the four-and-a-half hour exam by 90 minutes and adding questions on disciplines like sociology and psychology. The new exam would also test analytical and reasoning skills in areas like ethics, philosophy and cross-cultural studies, which could include questions about how someone living in a particular demographic situation, for example, might perceive and interact with others.

Lengthening an already four-and-a-half hour exam, they have to be kidding. I've taken the five hour SAT's and it was awful. Sitting there and trying to concentrate for that long was almost impossible and the SAT's tests you on easy topics like math and reading, not on the functions of different enzymes in your body and the dreaded organic chemistry. Maybe if the creators feel this part of the test needs to be added it could be a separate test, taken on another day coupled with maybe an interview to find out if you have strong people skills.

Despite what some view as a long overdue re-examination of this linchpin of medical school admissions, many medical educators, including members of the advisory committee, remain cautious about tampering with a test that has proved successful so far.

The science of personality testing has advanced tremendously over the last 25 years, but the committee felt it was still unclear how accurately a test could predict traits like integrity, altruism and the ability to collaborate. Some members were uncomfortable, too, with the long-term implications. “Will we end up labeling someone forever with a 9.2 for their personality?” Dr. Franks asked.

Only time will tell whether this newest version succeeds where earlier ones have not. But one thing is certain: Taking the MCAT is likely to remain a rite of passage for doctors-to-be for years to come. The new exam will be administered beginning in 2015.

And to top it all off, this new revised version of the MCAT will be administered for the first time, the year I graduate from my four year college. Looks like I'm going to be one of the many guinea pigs for this new revised version. I better start practicing my sitting and concentrating skills.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

High School Competition Squad of the Week

Mount Saint Charles High School 2011 Competition Squad

This Coed Varsity squad performed this routine at the New England Finals and received third in their division. Even though this squad did not finish first, they had a very nice routine, which is actually why I choose them this week. This is one of my favorite routines. And even though they finished third, this squad has a lot of talent; they just need to clean up their timing and tumbling skills. But the number one reason I'm in love with this routine is their dance.