The fact is that male cheerleaders make up approximately 50% of cheerleaders at the collegiate level, despite cheerleading being a female-dominated sport in middle school and high school. The male cheerleaders are just as committed to training and making their routines perfect for competitions.
It All Started With Male Cheerleaders
1898 was the year. Johnny Campbell was a Minnesota Gophers fan, and his team needed some encouragement. The first cheer was led by him on the sidelines, and cheerleading was born.
In addition to being started by male cheerleaders, cheerleading traditions were perpetuated by men such as Lawrence Herkimer and Fred Gastoff. Herkimer founded the National Cheerleaders Association and invented the herkie jump, among many other “firsts” in cheerleading.
Vinyl pompons were invented by Fred Gastoff.
Skills for the Men on a Squad
All cheerleaders practice routines, but college cheerleaders’ stunts differ from those of their female counterparts. There is less emphasis on flexibility and splits, and much more on flips, pikes, and handstands. In addition to having very strong legs, this requires a great deal of core strength.
Additionally, squad members often serve as spotters and bases. Many of them chant with pride: “Any man can hold a cheerleader’s hand, but only the elite can hold her feet!”. For some cheerleaders coming from all-girl squads in high school, the larger hands and stronger arms of college male cheerleaders provide a sense of security.
After a fall in high school, Morgan Earley, a cheerleader for the University of Utah, spent a year recovering. When she got to college, however, she noted that she had never been dropped.
A Daily Utah Chronicle article also quoted Earley as saying that having men on the squad helps to “mediate” some of the tempers and strong wills that can arise among women. The men do not have sexual tension or awkwardness despite holding up the cheerleaders like chairs, contrary to popular belief.
In order to improve their routines, male cheerleaders learn to respect their female counterparts, and women learn to trust the men.
Traditions New and Old
If you have male cheerleaders on your squad, you will have some traditions – for example, Brigham Young University and the University of Utah cheerleading squads have a “Cuple” contest in which each squad competes for the longest amount of time holding up a cheerleader.
Besides showing strength and trust, they incorporate other moves into the simple stunt, making it a routine.
Former Presidents Eisenhower and Bush, actors such as Steve Martin, and even Samuel L. Jackson, a super-tough guy, have all been cheerleaders. Despite the fact that male cheerleaders are becoming more common in high schools, they still do not receive the respect they deserve.
Squad mates can always let them know they are valued members of the school community.