Mariah Gaines, Cora Myers (Juniors)
After the conclusion of the fall sports season, the Obama cheer team hosted a second round of tryouts to determine who would be on the team for the winter season. An estimated 65 people tried out for the 30 spot team. Usually the team contains only girls, but this time, things were different.
Rayshawn Alexander, a junior at Obama, was one of three boys to try out for the winter cheer team and the only one to successfully make it. The last time the Obama cheer team had a male cheerleader was in 2012 when the current cheer coach, Ms. Clarke was a member of the team herself. The Eagle Times sat down with Alexander and Clarke to ask a couple questions about the experience thus far.
When asked if the thought of him being one of the first boys on the team was scary or exciting, Ray responded saying he felt really good about it. He said, “to know that I was one of the first boys in the program and the only boy right now was kind of fun.” He added that he does feel like there is a lot of pressure on him to exceed, but that he believes he can “do that better than anyone.”
In regards to the team dynamic, Alexander explained that everyone is just getting used to the fact there is a boy on the team. Ms. Clarke reiterated the same sentiments, adding that the only thing that is new to her is addressing the group in a gender neutral way and having to make sure the uniforms are cohesive.
“Cheer is such a generalized sport that’s strictly related to women,” said Alexander on a serious note. “When you think of things like football and cheer you think [of] men and women separately, but look at me and [Senior] Icebox changing that.” He continued, “Why does cheer have to be only for girls? That’s really why I wanted to do this. There’s so much toxic masculinity in the school and I want to be the change. I don’t want to sit back, watch, and wait for someone else to do it.”
The cheer team is more than open to having more boy members but Ms. Clarke wants people to know that “it’s not about if you’re a boy or a girl, it’s about what you can bring to the team, and what skills and talents you have.”