Many people unfamiliar with the history of cheerleading may think of men in cheerleading as a “new” trend, or even a taboo idea, but in fact the first cheerleaders were all male! The roots of cheerleading in the United States reach back more than 100 years. The first documented appearance of cheerleaders dates to November 2, 1898, when Johnny Campbell led the first cheerleaders at a University of Minnesota football game.
Men have been instrumental in the creation of many of the foundations of cheerleading. For instance, Lawrence Herkimer, renowned as the father of modern cheerleading, created the herkie jump (which was appropriately named after him) and received a patent for the creation of the pom-pom. In 1966, Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer asked his brother-in-law, James Hazlewood (current owner of Cheerleading Company), to join the cheerleading industry as general manager and partner of the original Cheerleader Supply Company.
As cheerleading progressed, women began to become the majority on the sidelines. Currently, it is estimated the 97% of all cheerleaders nationally are female. Contrarily, it is also estimated that at least 50% of collegiate cheerleaders are male. There are currently co-ed all-star teams that are comprised of more males than females. If you are interested in viewing co-ed cheerleading at its best, check out any of the programs that boast successful co-ed teams: University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, Top Gun All Stars, Georgia All Stars, Maryland Twisters, World Cup All Stars, and Spirit of Texas.
Men Bring Special Skill Sets to Cheerleading
Male cheerleaders can be seen in every aspect of cheerleading, from recreational squads, all-star teams, school squads and collegiate level teams. There are many benefits to co-ed cheerleading. Male cheerleaders typically bring an added level of strength to the team, which is beneficial in both stunting and tumbling. From a stunting aspect, male cheerleaders present an opportunity to conduct one-on-one partner stunts. This is commonly seen in all-star cheerleading and, more specifically, at the collegiate level. This, in turn, typically allows a team to perform a larger number of stunts without significantly increasing the amount of members on the team. Male cheerleaders also have a tendency to learn tumbling techniques quickly, and good technique combined with male strength makes for high flying tumbling skills!
Males Interested in Becoming Involved in Cheerleading
If you are a male interested in becoming a cheerleader, there are many options available to you. Depending on your current skill level, seek out a recreational team, school team, or all-star squad located close to you. Ask if they have a co-ed program in place, or if they are interested in starting one. You may have to build up your skill level before actually becoming a member of the squad. If you are interested in seeking assistance in preparing yourself to cheer, try to contact local college or all-star cheer coaches. They can usually refer you to other male cheerleaders or coaches that can offer you assistance.