Varsity cheerleading team in need of male participation

Hailey Grubich, Staff Writer

“When I first joined cheer, there were many people who would come up to me daily and ask me if I was gay. I still get asked that question time and time again. . . that’s just how things have been since,” junior cheerleader Max Lesher said.
The stereotype of boy cheerleaders being a certain sexuality has been around for decades. This stereotype is recognized by the cheerleading team at DGN, and they are actively working to break it in order to recruit boys to compete with them this season.
“We would love for boys to see it as an actual sport and a way to stay in shape rather than just an activity that we just go jump around on the sidelines because that’s not what we are all about. We do love cheering for our teams, but we do a lot more than that,” head varsity coach Allyson Passarelli said.
The team advertised a ‘Bring-A-Boy’ to practice on Nov. 8. Each varsity member brought a potential male to practice, and the team showcased their stunts and tumbling in hopes that a boy might be interested in joining their squad.
“Right now, I think that a lot of the boys think that it is a more feminine sport, and they feel like it is embarrassing to cheer at the football and basketball games with all the girls. I think that they realized this wasn’t true when they saw us practice at ‘Bring-A-Boy’,” three-year varsity cheerleader Cece Cogger said.
Typically, boys that are a part of boys gymnastics participate in cheerleading as well due to the similarity of skills between them.
Lesher, the only male cheerleader on the team, has been on the varsity gymnastics team throughout his high school career.
However, other gymnasts are hesitant to join the cheer program due to the stereotypes associated with boy cheerleaders.
“Being on cheer doesn’t give you as much of a reputation as an athlete as it would if you were on another sport. . . (Going from gymnastics to cheer]is like going from a tough guy sport to a [soft]sport,” senior gymnast Nikita Lukhanin said.
The varsity cheer team is expecting to have a great season ahead of them. Although their sport is often criticised, the cheerleaders stay positive and focus on the reasons they stay in the program.
“I do it because it’s a sport I enjoy. It’s something I can’t just do anywhere with anybody. The team I am with, it’s a family,” Lesher said.