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      Cheerleaders on the defense

      They run, they jump, and they even fly...all in addition to defending themselves daily.

      They're cheerleaders, and for the Negaunee High School squad, they have a constant battle off the football field when it comes to maintaining their title as athletes.

      "These girls are true athletes in the sense that they run--they run, they work out. In the summertime, they're doing different workout routines," said cheerleading coach Kristin Demarois.

      The team practices twice a week in addition to cheering at football games. Those practices aren't easy either. They start out stretching, then move onto cheering and practicing safe stunting, which involves lifting the entire weight of another girl.

      There's been five serious injuries on the squad, and every one of those girls has come back. They say it's frustrating when people discredit the sport that put them out for months.

      For senior Morgan Kontio, she broke her wrist while her team was stunting, making it impossible to cheer with her team.

      "It is a sport. We work really hard, and it's upsetting when people are just like, 'It's not a sport, you don't really do anything.' It's upsetting, but you know, I just leave it be and keep working hard and have a fun time at cheerleading and try not think about them," said Morgan.

      And Morgan has one thing to say to those who don't think her sport of choice takes hard work.

      "If you were to try it, you'd probably die from how hard it is. People just don't think that we do much, and we actually do. I'd just tell them to try it for yourself before you make an opinion about it," Morgan added.

      The Negaunee Miners will be playing against Iron Mountain Friday night, and the cheerleaders will be there in full spirit.