A funny thing happened when Montpelier (Vt.) High held its sign-up day for fall activities. Not one of the school's 380 students—about half of whom are girls—expressed any interest in being a cheerleader. Never before had the Solon football team gone into a season without the support of at least a few waving pom-poms.
"Cheerleading is not so much a way of gaining social status anymore," says principal Peter Clarke. "It's now judged on its own merits." Indeed, more of the girls at Montpelier High are playing sports, a development worth cheering about. Last year the school had 10 fall cheerleaders, but most of them graduated. This year's freshmen prefer playing field hockey.
Lest the Solon football team, which is 0-2 so far, feel unloved, parents and teachers are trying to organize their own cheerleading squad. "The women faculty members are planning something for an upcoming game, but I'm not sure what," says Clarke. "I think they're out seeing what uniforms they can fit into."
WOOD STRIKES BACK
Former New York Yankee scout Dave Cook has invented a new wood bat that is harder to break and therefore might hold off the projected switch to aluminum bats in the major and minor leagues (SI, July 24). Call it the Neapolitan: It has a 23-inch-long handle made of white ash, a seven-inch section of hickory in the middle and three or four inches of soft maple at the top. The three pieces are held together by finger joints and an epoxy-type glue.
Cook, whose family owns a wood and adhesives business near Chicago, says his bat is more durable than other wood ones because he uses such high-quality ash in the handle. This might help offset the main advantage aluminum bats have over wood ones: The metal bats don't break, and thereby save teams a lot of money. Cook's bat won't break that often, either.
Cook's bats also have a larger sweet spot—those seven inches of hard, heavy hickory—than aluminum or traditional wood bats and, thanks to the lightweight maple at the end, are lighter than many aluminum models. Hillerich & Bradsby, the maker of Louisville Sluggers, has been testing Cook's model and is producing a small batch for use by college teams this fall.
As for his bat's sticking power, Cook says, "If the job is done right, the bat will never fall apart. The strongest part of the bat is where it's glued."
HOLD THE MUD, PLEASE
There were several noteworthy developments at the recent World Wrestling Championships in Martigny, Switzerland. The U.S. team turned in its finest performance ever, placing six wrestlers in the finals and finishing second in the team race, just nine points behind the Soviets (79-70). Olympic gold medalist John Smith got his second world title at 136.5 pounds—only two other U.S. wrestlers have won three world or Olympic crowns—and fellow Seoul champion Kenny Monday stunned Arsen Fadzaev of the U.S.S.R. 6-1 to win the 163-pound class. The Soviets had moved Fadzaev, the defending world and Olympic champ at 149.5 pounds and perhaps the best wrestler alive, up a class to try to defeat Monday.