From headlocks to handstands

Senior+cheerleader+Michael+Williams.+

Gillian Boyce

Senior cheerleader Michael Williams.

Most high school boys spend hours in the gym to stay in shape for an upcoming sports season.
Senior Michael Williams and sophomore Marcus Heyder train differently.
When they aren’t rolling around the floor wrestling, they’re lifting girls, working on technique and cheering on the football players from the field.
“When our friends hear that we cheer, they are appalled that there are actually male cheerleaders. But it’s not as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of technique and we have to work harder than the girls because we have to lift them,” Williams said.
Heyder added, “While some people think we’re smart [the feedback from friends] is mostly negative.”
Cheerleading coach Sophia Stallworth, however, said having boys on the team will bring them to the next level at competition. “It’ll give the judges something different to look at and we are trying to make it more co-ed and grown up,” Stallworth said.
The other cheerleaders and coaches agree the boys have brought a lot of spirit to the team and encourage the girls to do better every time. Stallworth mentioned although they are a great addition to the team, she coaches differently to accommodate their talents. Instead of using cheer terms such as “a clean and jerk” they try to switch to weightlifting lingo like a “lift and press.”
Junior Sade Santana said, “I think the boys bring great attributes to the team and we don’t lose focus because of them.”
The cheer team has already gained two boys this season and plan on getting two more linebackers from the football team when football season ends and cheer competition season starts.
“It will bring us out of that pee-wee stage and bring us a more collegiate look with one boy-one girl stunts as opposed to a group [stunt].”