Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Sept. 30, 2005

Making it as a male cheerleader

by Natasha Prados, Online Managing Editor
Twenty-eight pairs of hands clap. Twenty-eight mouths shout in unison. Twenty-eight bodies move rhythmically in perfect formation on the field. Twenty-eight bodies are wearing 28 white t-shirts and 28 black skirts that read "Cheer" in italics. Wait, make that twenty-five skirts.

Lurking in the back row of the formation are three striking characters wearing shorts instead of skirts. But looking past the glaring discrepancy in dress code, one notices a bigger difference between back row occupants and the rest of the team: they are male.
James Gillette, Anton Do and Casey Wallis are the three male cheerleaders this season.
Diana Frey
James Gillette, Anton Do and Casey Wallis are the three male cheerleaders this season.

In a culture where males are often ridiculed for crossing gender boundaries, three male cheerleaders, senior James Gillette, sophomore Anton Do and sophomore Casey Wallis, are taking a risk at Blair for a variety of reasons. Do wanted to master back-flips, Wallis wanted to stay in shape and Gillette did not say no when approached.

Gillette, Do and Wallis are not the first male cheerleaders on Blair's squad. According to co-coach Roxanne Fus, boys helped the team place third in the 1995-1996 school year Montgomery County Cheerleading Competition. Senior James Gillette was also on the team last year, but only participated during basketball season after being injured in a car accident. This year, not only is he fully recovered, but he is no longer alone since Do and Wallis joined the team.

Between four and seven percent of the 3.25 million college cheerleaders in the US are male, making Gillette, Do and Wallis in the clear minority, according to a 2002 article published by Observer Sport Monthly.
The male cheerleader's strength helps the cheerleaders perform more complicated stunts. Here they demonstrate an example of a basic one deck stunt. Diana Frey
The male cheerleader's strength helps the cheerleaders perform more complicated stunts. Here they demonstrate an example of a basic one deck stunt.

Wallis recalls being "very uncomfortable" and acutely aware of his gender when trying out for the team. "Being in a room with over 60 girls [as] one of the only guys and [having] to do the things the girls do and feel un-masculine" was an awkward situation for Wallis.

Going head-to-head with the girls

Once practices starts, the girls are all about business. "We're pretty much nothing once we enter the dance room. We're just tools," Wallis says.

The boys are cooperative team-players when it comes to cheering. "They will do whatever we ask of them," says Fus. "They are great."

Although the boys do not need to dance or know all the moves, they have to learn the cheers. According to team member sophomore Morgan Nixon, the boys are not the best at cheering. She complains that they "clap off beat."

Do, however, is confident and feels he can match the girls step for step. "I can do whatever they can do, or better," says Do. Gillette disagrees; there are some things he simply refuses to do.

"I'll always have a problem doing splits," says Gillette. "[You're] never gonna catch me popping my [butt] like they do. It's just not gonna happen."

Sometimes the boys use megaphones and cheer with the girls, but for the most part they do stunting. This includes acrobatic moves such as back-flips, which co-coach Fillman McLean is teaching Do and Wallis, tossing girls and holding a flier.

McLean, who has been cheering since the age of ten, says that the strength required for some routines has forced cheerleading to evolve beyond "just a girl sport." The boys' muscles have been a welcome addition to the squad, though Fus contests that some of the girls can hold up a teammate just as well as the boys.

Suiting up comes with stereotypes

At the beginning of last season, after five years of coaching the cheerleading squad, Fus encountered herself faced with a challenge: a male cheerleader. Although Gillette, the newest member of the squad at the time, joined because of a joke by wrestling team managers, he quickly became a dedicated team member.

At first, Fus was concerned that Gillette would face harassment and catcalls. Her anxieties proved unnecessary, since most Blazers were open-minded about Gillette's participation. "I'm really proud of the Blair community, I was worried about my guys," reflects Fus. She says that if insults are being uttered, "at least people aren't shouting [them]."

Gillette, on the other hand, is less certain that the civility he is afforded is due to acceptance. "I wrestle and I'm a big guy, so [no one] says it to my face," Gillette says.

Do and Wallis, on the other hand, say that they have been taunted. "People make fun of you all the time," says Wallis.

Blair Resource Counselor Marcia Johnson feels that taunting will not necessarily affect the boys. "I think if it's something they really want to do, they'll be fine with it, though it depends on the person," Johnson notes.

Regardless of any teasing, all three of the boys say they do not take any negative comments to heart. They have the encouragement of family and friends, most of whom tease the guys in jest. "My parents thought it was a really good idea because it got me out of the house," laughs Wallis.

All three of the boys claim that the most common misconception about male cheerleaders is that they are all homosexual. At one football game, a male cheerleader on the opposing team's squad even hit on Gillette. Teammate and senior co-captain of the squad Jen Nguyen affirms that the stereotype is a common one. Nguyen notices that people often ask her, "What are they, gay?"

(Not a) gender bender

Despite the stigma associated with male cheerleaders, having guys on the team has not upset team chemistry.

The cheerleaders often have bonding activities, such as sleepovers, which Fus knows will not be a problem because of adult supervision. However, having a multi-gender squad has raised minor problems. "I just had to speak to the guys and tell them that they couldn't stand around in their boxer shorts," explains Fus.

"Everybody is really comfortable with everybody else," Fus states.

Do might be comfortable with the girls, but he does not necessarily understand them. "I know just as much about girls as before I joined. Which is not much," Do muses.

Wallis does not worry about understanding the girls. He gets along well with his female teammates and attests to their mutual camaraderie. He says they are "fun to be with and fun to hang around." He adds, "even after practice we'll still chill."

Nixon is similarly appreciative of the guys. She attests that Gillette, Do and Wallis are "always around to entertain us." Perhaps the guys' biggest fans are their female counterparts, who enjoy having the guys with them. "They really add to the squad because they bring not only their strength but also their humor and a good attitude," says senior co-captain JoAnne Rogers.

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  • Michael on September 30, 2005 at 11:20 PM
    Great article, Tasha! A good example of breaking the gender barriers. You obviously worked hard on this.
  • hey on October 1, 2005 at 1:27 AM
    yeah ANTON! :)
  • 07 on October 1, 2005 at 4:58 AM
    The norwegian guy last year did cheerleading, why wasn't he on the squad?
  • yeah james on October 1, 2005 at 10:55 AM
  • Shinsou_ (View Email) on October 1, 2005 at 11:25 AM
    Ahhh this is awesomeee <3

    Def one of my fav articles -le grin-
  • Hokuma on October 1, 2005 at 12:08 PM
    Awesome article!!
    I think it was a great idea to write about the guys on the cheerleading squad, because now we know more about them. The article itself was excellent. You had good quotes and the article flowed perfectly!
    Good job! =)
  • o.O on October 1, 2005 at 2:44 PM
    GO ANTON!!!!!!!
  • af on October 1, 2005 at 4:00 PM
    That's interesting. Backflips are cool.
  • cheerleader on October 1, 2005 at 4:48 PM
    haha james and casey and anton are AWESOME cheerleaders =)
  • . on October 1, 2005 at 5:53 PM
    james,casey,&anton :]
  • sofa on October 1, 2005 at 8:44 PM
    wow, cool article. go anton and casey, whooooot.^^
  • CB on October 1, 2005 at 10:56 PM
    yeah tash! this is a pretty awesome article. not to mention mind-boggling-ly long ;). good work :)
  • cheerleader on October 2, 2005 at 10:28 AM
    AIGHT BOYS! You guys rock my socks!
    And the norwegian guy only came the second semester, and he wasn't really informed about it.
  • Becca on October 2, 2005 at 1:33 PM
    awesome awesome article, Tash!
    best feature I've seen on SCO all year :)
  • ^^ on October 2, 2005 at 2:39 PM
    Yay Anton!
  • Warumono on October 2, 2005 at 7:06 PM
    xDD Yay for cheerleader Anbo!!
  • jason on October 2, 2005 at 9:28 PM
    If that what they want to do then let them.
    Don't stop them from reach their goal. We must treat each atlhetic with respect and love. That means supporting them.
  • antonfan on October 3, 2005 at 4:23 PM
    anton is the man
  • sorry on October 3, 2005 at 7:18 PM
    but cheerleading is definitely not a sport
  • Peach on October 5, 2005 at 6:30 PM
    Its so cool how James if friends with that freshman. She is a really great person. She should get to know him better.
  • Peach on October 5, 2005 at 6:42 PM
    I think its so cool how James is friends with that freshman. They make a good match.
  • nicely (View Email) on October 5, 2005 at 7:01 PM
    my deepest respects to mr do and mr wallis. they are most deffinitly great men participating in a feild primarily of girls. james, you can kick my butt anyway, but i have it on good athority that the guy cheerleaders are stronger than most of the football players.
  • 07 on October 6, 2005 at 4:28 AM
    RE: Cheerleader
    Too bad he wasn't informed, because he showed me some neat jumps (perfect toe-touch and pike), a back flips and vaults.... he even showed be a video of him doing partner stunts.

    He was really really good
  • anton on October 6, 2005 at 8:23 PM
    HOLY CRAP LOL, I ONLY MEANT I COULD DO THE JUMPS AS GOOD OR BETTER NOT THE DANCES @_@ hope u guys dint think i could do all those dances cuz that'll jus b scary
  • anton on October 6, 2005 at 8:30 PM
    oops dint mean to type in caps lol
  • sssock on October 6, 2005 at 8:56 PM
    funny how anton's gettin known as a cheerleader. i thought he wuz gon go down as da kid who continued da chain of azn breakers XD
  • new kid on October 7, 2005 at 6:14 PM
    how can a male ask his parents to do cheer?
  • i <3 male cheerleaders on October 9, 2005 at 8:54 PM
    president bush was a cheerleader in high school
  • john (View Email) on October 10, 2005 at 1:00 PM
    it takes a real man to be a cheerleader!!
    i support you all 180%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i love you boys soooo much
    love always
    john c.
  • peach2 on October 10, 2005 at 3:31 PM
    peach is mean!!!! guy cheerleaders are AMAZING!
  • peach2--again! on October 10, 2005 at 3:34 PM
    peach is a mean and hurt my BEST friend.

    (ps. guy cheerleaders are awesome!!)
  • new kid on October 10, 2005 at 6:18 PM
    why is it hard to ask your parents to join cheer if you are a male? HELP!!!
  • new kid on October 10, 2005 at 6:22 PM
    you see i'm a great cheerleder and I can't tryout for any teams because she doesn't understand.
  • Me!! on October 11, 2005 at 5:11 PM
    GO JAMES!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • ??????? ? on October 11, 2005 at 5:15 PM
    i <3 james!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =) *hug*
  • Peach on October 11, 2005 at 7:56 PM
    ??????? ? is the same freshman girl I was talking about before.
  • Sceptic on October 12, 2005 at 1:02 PM
    Peach is kidding around, and "that freshman" needs to give it a rest, as well as her "best friend." Trust me, I know these things.
  • to the new kid on October 15, 2005 at 10:42 AM
    your parents should understand. just tell them how important it is for you to join the team.
  • ethan (View Email) on October 28, 2005 at 11:30 PM
    how old do you hve to be
  • Naimmmmmm (View Email) on November 9, 2005 at 6:28 PM
    Hey guys, nice work!:D
  • Edgar (View Email) on January 4, 2006 at 8:46 PM
    How i can be in my cheerleader team if we dont have guys in the team
  • sylvia on January 21, 2006 at 8:31 PM
    I think it is a great thing! I am a flyer myself for Faifax High school and we only have one male cheerleader. He has gained the respect of the team by demonstrating his dependability, positive attitude, and determination. I wish there were more male cheerleaders, but I know there are large obstacles to overcome when taking on such a task. I admire them for their courage and loyalty. The fact of it is that there are still major gender barriers that urge talented and eager males to stay unfortunate...
  • Qwinatil (View Email) on January 29, 2006 at 3:13 AM
    Waz up u guys im thinking about trying out for the Cheerleading team for Atherton High
  • Andy (View Email) on February 14, 2006 at 12:27 PM
    Hey My name is Andy, I'm 19 years old, I am a Freshman at Columbus State University. I've been a Male Cheerleader since 7th grade, and it is by far the most physically demanding sport I have ever participated in. I got into cheerleading back in the 7th grade because of this one girl named Stephanie, i had a crush on her, I had always been a football player since I was 6 years old, so I was a pretty Decent sized boy compared to my other classmates, she asked me to help her out with her team, they needed some muscle. At first i was very Self-consious about the whole thing, would people make fun of me?, would people not accept me anymore?, would i wind up being a social outcast? of course, everyone tormented me, until i learned my first cheerleading Routine, thats when all the wise-cracks stoped... Immediately. I was at a pep-rally in the 9th grade, I tossed a girl into a Toss Cupie, means I toss her up and catch her on one hand. and the room went silent. next thing i know everyone was cheering for me. From then on we had guys trying out for the team, I join an all-start team.

    Fast Forward 3 years. Here i am, 6'1 265lbs. can bench press 365lbs. and i owe it all to Cheerleading. Not to mention I met my girlfriend who ive had for 3 years through cheerleading.

    I strongly Encourage male to join cheerleading. I promise you it will make you stronger more quickly than any other sport. the only requirements you need to meet are, some what flexible, a good memory, dedication, be able to take a punch, elbow, kick, or whatever gets thrown at you and have the mental strength to sacrifice yourself for your flyer, even if it means you get a broken nose.

    ive had more injuries from cheerleading than all 3 of my roomates have had in their whole lives.
  • Terrence morris (View Email) on March 22, 2006 at 3:13 PM
    hay this is Terrence im am looked apoun as a very popular kid in my School and i am gonig to go through with this and become a cheerleader in spite of what the 06-07 class might say o by the way i am 18 6/3 179 pounds i can flip a lill and a i am a good croud pleeser so i think i will be just fine,
  • Carla Farrell (View Email) on March 29, 2006 at 12:05 AM
    I think it's great that guys cheerlead. My grandson is 15y/o and cheerleads on a competitive team. He has been on the team 2 years and does the routine,bases and throws double fulls in the tumbling part.He too has people call him names or voice negative opinions to him.So far he just lets it go.Now he's out for a few weeks with a broken collar bone he got while riding his motorcycle.Now the team sees how much a guy adds to it. By the way he.s dtraight like your guys.
  • seth (View Email) on May 1, 2006 at 10:18 AM
    im inspired
  • francisco (View Email) on May 1, 2006 at 1:44 PM
    i think if ur a guy and u got what it takes 2 be CHEERLEADER GO FOR IT i have always wanted to cheer for ma skool but i cant because they dont have guys on the team. but i can dance and thats and thats good to so what do i do to be CHEERLEADER. AND I LUV ALL MA MALE CHEERLEADER MUCH LUVE TO U GUYS
  • LORENA TORRES (View Email) on May 9, 2006 at 5:29 PM

  • jamie (View Email) on May 28, 2006 at 8:14 AM
    i am a male cheerleader for nrg extreme in leeds i think if boys want to cheerlead go fot it because its so fun and u r really athletic after aswell and in a way it can boosst ya populartiy up aswell lol i didnt join fot that but GO FOR IT LADZ.
  • Ashley Sidney (View Email) on June 23, 2006 at 12:15 PM
    Hey, my name is Ashley(I am a guy ,not I am a student at PaintBranch High Achool who just recently try-out for cheerelading. I did it becasue I liked and because i wanted to show other guys in my school that anyone can be a male cheerleader
  • JUAN (View Email) on July 5, 2006 at 2:42 PM
  • nicki on July 10, 2006 at 12:44 PM
    hey i cheer 4 Katz Elite Cheerleaders in leeds and we have 4 male cheerleaders, ranging from 13-26. their great and really enjoy it! the number of male cheerleaders in Britain are growing so fast!
  • Izzy (View Email) on August 14, 2006 at 6:22 PM
    Hey i cheer 4 Cornish Shark All-Stars in England... although we don't have any guys on the squad, i know quite a few men who were cheerleaders when they were in highschool then moved over here. We need more men on the squad though!!!
  • john robert (View Email) on August 23, 2006 at 9:16 AM
    i am a guy cheerleader also. but i dont get teased because the guys are jealous they cant hang with all these girls. but unlike you guys i dont do cheer just to do a back flip. i do it because its what i love.

  • Alethea Manahan (View Email) on August 24, 2006 at 7:17 AM
    i want to be cherleadre because i watch cheerleading shows and i really wont to be one can you sebd me information about cheer groups and some poms poms 4 practice and i good at making up cheers

  • Aaron Armstrong (View Email) on August 29, 2006 at 4:22 PM
    I have been wanting to be a male cheerleader. Ever since i was young and now i got a chance to im going to do it. Because i have lots of spirit all the time.
  • jane spence (View Email) on September 23, 2006 at 10:29 PM
    I really enjoyed this story. I definitely support guys who are confident and comfortable enough to do something they enjoy without worrying about other people's ignorance. I also applaud the Blair students. Kids are not nearly as cruel as people imagine them to be.
  • Kimberley (View Email) on November 5, 2006 at 10:52 AM
    Hi, I found this article really helpful. I run a squad in the UK with younger children, and have just recently had four boys join the team. They get a bit of abuse from some of their friends, but inside the squad all the girls have accepted them brilliantly. The one thing I am having difficulty with is getting their uniform sorted. What do your male cheerleaders wear, and where do you get it from?! Thanks for a great article, Kim
  • daquan thompson (View Email) on December 8, 2006 at 3:34 PM
    hey guys just droped by to show some support im a male cheerleader to at bhs (bartlesville high school well keep up the good work and have fun doing what you do
  • Chelsea (View Email) on January 26, 2007 at 12:58 PM
    i think its great that guys are interested in cheerleading but strength has NOTHING to do with any stunting you have to have the right techneique or even the lightest girl could weigh 3 tons

    and another thing boys dont settle on your chest you have to kep the girls feet at your chest in the air NOT on your chest or it looks wrong and it could feel like she weighs 3 tons
  • Derek Kelly (View Email) on February 15, 2007 at 10:48 AM
    hey guys !! im a male cheerleader at hollister high school its cool to see other guys doing what most wouldnt........... keep it up
  • Nic keeling (View Email) on April 18, 2007 at 11:12 PM
    hey i am going to be a cheerleader but not really i'm only going to do stunt comp. cuz i used to be in gymnastics and i am a diver do i know a thing or two and come on who wouldnt want to grab gurls butts all day... i mean come on. representing Cedarburg high school in wisconsin word...
    ~ps. i dont speak like a hick and am not a farmer so dont judge the wisconsin people kk k peace out
  • jordan (View Email) on July 2, 2007 at 1:38 AM
    shit... if a guy can do cheer then shit, he did it alll.

    'in any sport if you fail, all you lose is the ball, in cheerleading you lose more'
  • Jamaal (View Email) on August 2, 2007 at 1:03 PM
    hey i am 16 now my b-day was yesterday. i play football,baseball,track and i am goin to be a cheerlaeder. i suppose to cheer at basketball seasons. i have been goin through a lot and the only people i can really talk to is the cheerleaders. i can tumble just as good as any body i know, im really good. all my use to be friends talk bout me and i use to feel bad but didnt let it show. i have practiced and to tell u the truth its been a blast. i would have never thought of doin this stuff. people still talk about me bad but i try to let it go and know that school is about to start its gonna be even harder. oh i have a myspace so you can send me emails and stuff. i just need some advice. help
  • daniel (View Email) on October 29, 2007 at 4:55 PM
    I want to be a cheerleader people sould not judge me because im a guy they always say play football its a real sport but who cares
  • COLTEN MEDDOCK (View Email) on November 6, 2007 at 2:31 AM
    hey whats up im a 2 year cheer leader and a 3 year football player and i love both sports alot im the captan of my sqaud and i also got most of the stunts all on lock but thats all GO!!!! big B
  • Jennifer (View Email) on September 29, 2008 at 9:33 PM
    hey.... im working on my social studies fair and i was wondering who Nguyen was. it would be nice if you could please respond ASAP. i just need to know if she is another cheerleader on the team or a coach or something. thanks
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