Cheer Bros: Male seniors compete in order to qualify for coed


Submitted Photo

Seniors Ty Hafer, Dino al-Sayyed, Archer Spelman, Alex Witt and Jonah Sims pose at NCA National Championships. The tournament took place in Dallas on January 21-22.

Aisha Rashid, Editor

At the center of the amphitheater, lights shone in their eyes, blocking out the crowd and judges. Their heart rate surged up, butterflies fluttering across their stomachs. The past season flashed before the boy’s eyes; making new friends, goofing off during the bus rides, having long and deep talks in conference rooms, amusing practices. Five months of hard work all came down to this. 

Seniors Dino al-Sayyed, Ty Hafer, Alex Witt, Jonah Sims and Archer Spelman trained with the cheer competition team as male cheerleaders during the 2022-2023 school year in preparation for the state and national cheer championships.

“I’ve done this competition for many years,” varsity cheer coach Brianna Roughton said. “[And], we found that our style of cheerleading is more successful in the Coed division.”

In state competition, the cheerleading team would traditionally fall into the 6A category, a division with around 75 teams. However, inducting the boys moves them into the Coed division, narrowing down their competition as they would only be competing against approximately 30 teams. Since the competition team first went coed in 2018, senior girls have maintained the tradition of recruiting their male friends as cheerleaders.

“I got asked by a couple of the captains to do it,” Witt said. “And, I thought, ‘why not?’ They cheer at my football games so I thought it was deserved.”

The boys are a part of the 35 member competition team, which is a combination of Varsity Cheerleading and JV Cheerleading, with five of the members as alternates. Since the boys aren’t part of these individual teams, they didn’t participate in cheering during the Friday night football games. Instead, since September, they had been preparing for their upcoming competitions..

“[The training] is definitely more challenging than people expect,” Hafer said.

Initially, practice occurred 1-2 times a week during the boy’s fourth and eighth off periods, but as the tournament date neared, practice shifted to a first priority. Around early December, they began practicing everyday for one and a half to two hours. 

“[It’s nice to] have louder voices on the team,” senior and cheerleader Cady Wong said. “They don’t have to do motions or anything so they just focus on yelling.”

The boys learned how to stunt, or lift people in the air and focused on waving flags, yelling and dancing with the microphones and other specialities throughout the routine, such as Hafer’s backflip.

“They were just as invested in it as the girls were,” Roughton said. “Dino asked me probably like 100 questions a day about different things that he needs to be doing better, so I was really impressed with how bought in they were.”

In addition to the boy’s dedication, the team also heavily benefitted from their strength. With them as the bases, it was easier for cheerleaders to perform stunts that are typically difficult for all girl groups to do.

“My favorite part was the chance to be on stage and get judged,” al-Sayyed said. “I’ve never really played a sport on a national or state level, so my heart was pumping so fast at the beginning.”

The team’s first competition was UIL Spirit State Championships in Fort Worth on January 12-14, where they placed sixth in their division. On January 21-22, the team traveled by bus to Dallas to compete in the NCA High School Nationals.

“It was actually really fun,” al-Sayyed said. “I got to meet new friends. It was a nice environment and a cool way to learn something new.”

The five male cheerleaders highly recommended boys interested in cheer to consider joining next year, as the juniors are currently seeking out new  replacements.

“I wish I could go through it again,” al-Sayyed said. “I learned that cheer is really important. All the cheer girls were dedicated and I really respected that. I could probably have done cheer from before because it was really fun.”