Interview With The Male Cheerleader, Part 2: What It's Like To Be A Georgetown Cheerleader

Welcome back for Day 2 of the EPIC 4 DAY INTERVIEW with Georgetown hero The Male Cheerleader.  While Part 1's focus was The Male Cheerleader's upbringing and the path that led him to Georgetown, today we discuss cheerleading itself.  In case you missed it, here's yesterday's Part 1.  Onto Part 2...

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One Male Symbol.

Have you ever dropped anyone while doing a cheerleading formation?

I haven’t had any drops at a game, that I can remember, then again I’d never try any stunts or tumbling at a game that I wasn’t already pretty confident in. It also depends on what you mean by "dropped." Very rarely do girls just get dropped from a stunt and fall straight to the ground. That being said falls happen quite a bit, in fact one of the first things you’re taught in cheerleading is how to fall and how to catch someone who is falling. Statistics show that cheerleading has the highest risk of catastrophic injury of any sport or athletic event, even higher than football or rugby. That’s partly due to the nature of what cheerleaders do and the number of people that are involved in every pyramid or stunt (no one sits the bench in cheerleading); there’s a lot of high speed, hard impact maneuvering in all the jumping, tumbling, and stunting whether you’re landing on the ground or in someone’s arms by design or not. However, there are also a lot of safety precautions and rules that if followed eliminate a lot of the risks involved, making cheerleading a fairly safe sport. All coaches are required to have safety certifications from the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, a safety oversight body that usually defers to caution when deciding what stunts to allow and such. For instance, there are different limitations for what you can do on a football field versus what you can do on a basketball court due to the risks the playing surfaces present.

Part 2 continues after The Jump:

What advice would you give to any young boy out there who wants to grow up to be a Georgetown University male cheerleader?

I would tell him that he should be going to Georgetown for a lot more than cheerleading. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in the whole community, and if you only went to Georgetown to be a cheerleader you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Although many people knew me as "the male cheerleader," in my time at Georgetown I tried to use cheerleading to open windows into an innumerable amount of activities, charity events, and other campus organizations including the Georgetown Fashion Show, the Caribbean Culture Club’s Date Auction for Haitian Charities, Rangila, New Student Orientation, Blue and Gray Tour Guides, and Grassroots Hoyas, just to name a few. I have no doubt that I was often viewed as a cheerleader in those activities as well, but I was able to go far and beyond just getting people excited for basketball and football games, even within that one role. From purely a cheerleading perspective, there are a lot of perks to being one of only a few male cheerleaders on campus ranging from free workout clothes to just having people recognize you when you’re on a date or out with friends, but cheerleading is also a big time commitment at a school like Georgetown where there are few days without some kind of homework assignment, reading, or paper that has to be done. Beyond that you just need to love Georgetown to the end, not to the point that you’re just a blind follower of all things Hoya and Saxa, but in that you’re always committed to positively representing and promoting the University in everything you do, both in and out of uniform, in a manner that tries to make Georgetown better.

Are there any pregame rituals you or any of the other cheerleaders have to psych yourselves up for a big game? What about an awful game?

First off, there’s no such thing as an awful game for a cheerleader. You have to bring your "A game" to every pep rally, appearance, football and basketball game, because literally cheerleading puts someone in your hands and even a small slip up can result in injury, or sheer embarrassment for you and the rest of the team. As far as pregame rituals go, I have a routine that I stuck to with few adjustments since freshman year. It started in my room the night before when I’d pack my game bag with athletic tape, braces, water, throat lozenges, and water. I’d then lay out my uniform much like Deion Sanders did during his NFL career, laying it out like in a body outline on the floor, everything from my uniform to the sweatbands and socks I wore to every game (for all four years I wore the same pair of sweatbands and same socks to every game). While I did all this I’d put the movie Gladiator on and always made sure to watch at least the closing scene from when Maximus is stabbed inside the bowels of the Coliseum to the beginning of the credits. On the morning of the game, I always went to work at Senator Mary Landrieu’s Office, where I worked throughout my college career as an intern, and full-time staffer over the summer. I started doing this when I first got the job in January of freshman year because I was eager to make a good impression at the office, but it soon just became part of my routine to go to the office put the coffee on, and get things set for any early morning appointments or meetings before I’d either catch the Metro or just walk to Verizon. As the years went by I started wearing my uniform into the office which actually made it a bit humorous and fun to go to work, bringing a whole new take on casual Friday, occasionally it resulted in people with appointments seeing me at the game later that day. I always made a point to stop by the line of fans that had gotten to Verizon early to get good seats in the student section. Usually I’d just say hi, talk about the game, and then make my way into the press entrance. Inside the arena, I went through a stretching and warm-up routine that I’d done since my days as a high school football player, all the while listening to my pre-game playlist. The playlist had pretty typical pump up songs on it, anything from Rocky to the We Are Georgetown song that plays right before tip-off, but the last song I always listened to was Nelly’s Heart of a Champion. At some point during my routine the rest of the team would usually arrive on the buses for the pep band and cheerleaders, and we’d start warming up our performance, stunting, and tumbling for the day, after which I’d break off from the group again to go run the team onto the court with the big flag. Oddly enough as a freshman more people referred to me as "the flag guy" than "the male cheerleader." One of the newer parts of the routines involved the song "Forever" from, the Lebron James movie More Than a Game. The song became a part of the Verizon pre-game playlist this past year, and me and one of the other male cheerleaders would usually get pretty hyped at the opening line, "Last name Ever, first name Greatest." That pretty much brought me to tip-off, and by far the best part of the day.

Do the cheerleaders hang out together off the court? Is there any sort of no-dating policy among cheerleaders?

We become a pretty tightly knit group over the year, spending at least 8 or so hours together each week at practice alone. We really start to see a lot of one another when men’s and women’s basketball get into full swing. We also get together outside of cheerleading pretty regularly as a whole group probably about once every two or three weeks. Then within our individual groups of friends we probably hang out every weekend. You just can’t spend that much time with people and not make at least a few close friends. Although there isn’t technically a no-dating policy among cheerleaders, at least in my experience it hasn’t happened. At the same time it does happen in the cheerleading world, but at Georgetown we just never have had that kind of team dynamic, not to mention over the past few years we’ve only at most had 3 guys on the team.

How many days a week and for how long does the cheerleading squad practice?

The cheerleading squad typically practices three days a week for two to three hours, in addition to whatever games and appearances we may also have on the schedule. On top of that comes the somewhat implicit expectation that team members stay in shape and are well conditioned, so while you don’t necessarily have to go to the gym, most people do just to stay in good shape throughout the year. Over the course of the year, it really does wear on you physically, but also vocally. I usually lose my voice around the start of New Student Orientation every year and with the exception of Christmas break, I pretty much have a sore throat through the end of basketball season. By far the Men’s and Women’s Big East Tournaments are the most physically demanding portions of the year, especially if the teams are successful. You go three or four days in a row with games every day, and you’re yelling even more than normal because it’s not a whole arena of Georgetown fans and the games only get bigger. Plus we have to kneel or squat down at tournament games, which makes it rough on the legs as the week goes on.

What are your opinions regarding the film 'Bring It On!' and its impact on cheerleading globally?

Although I think Kirsten Dunst gave an excellent performance, I’d say the film as a whole isn’t a perfect representation of the cheerleading world. Certain aspects of it are fairly accurate, such as the intensity of cheerleading competitions, which is a whole different world from cheerleading at games, but as a whole product you can’t take it too seriously.

When you go to a non-Georgetown event, do you ever feel odd just being a normal spectator?

Definitely; I remember last Christmas my family went to a Hornet’s game and it was so awkward sitting in the stands, as odd as that may sound. Prior to that game, I can’t think of the last time I was just a regular spectator at football or basketball game. Even when it came to "non-cheerleading" sports, I always made a point to attend at least a few home games a year, somewhat trying to treat all sports equally and help get the crowd pumped even out of uniform. In that regard even though I was technically in the stands it was never like being a normal spectator at any point during my Georgetown undergraduate career.

Do you shake the opposing cheerleaders' hands at the end of the game?

I never have, but that’s not really a sportsmanship thing in cheerleading, because I’ve never seen it done. There‘s usually very little direct interaction between different cheerleading squads at games, although there is definitely some prideful competition going on, in that no one wants to be upstaged in front of a national audience, and everyone’s trying their best to make their respective school look good. But shaking hands like the competing teams do after games, is just something that isn’t done in cheerleading.

Please detail the impact that THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON had on the cheerleading squad. If the answer is "Absolutely none", please type "N/A" and proceed to next question.

Some of us have followed the blogs, and most of us grabbed a Casual Hoya headband at some point last year. I mean who doesn’t like headbands or free stuff? I know the Phenomenon is definitely growing as I’m now a regular reader, though first-time poster with this interview.

Everyone loves the movie 'Meet the Parents', in which Ben Stiller plays Gaylord Focker, a male nurse. In the film, Focker meets the parents of his fiancee, reveals that he is a male nurse, and hijinx ensues. Have you revealed to the parents of anyone you've dated that you are a male cheerleader? If so, what is the typical reaction?

Everyone I’ve dated pretty much knew what they were getting into when they started dating me, so there was never really any big revelation moment with them or their parents. Plus I came from a family where cheerleading was just like every other sport so I’ve never really considered it as something to address any differently than being on basketball or football team. A lot of the "stigma" associated with being a male cheerleader is really only a big deal if you pay it any attention and really feed the hype. It was never really anything that bothered me, and the Georgetown community has been very supportive and appreciative of my and the other male cheerleaders efforts over the years.

Do you think the stereotypes associated with the role of 'male cheerleader' are fair?

Stereotyping in general is really just not a way to go with just about any subject. Cheerleading is no different in that regard.

If memory serves, you cheered injured, with a cast on your arm. Can we safely assume that HGH is a part of your training regimen? How prevalent are PEDs in cheering?

Although I’ve drunk protein shakes for quite some time, I’m steroid and supplement free, unless you count a multi-vitamin. I don’t think that kind of stuff is particularly prevalent in cheerleading, just because it’s not all that necessary to be huge and big; a lot of the throwing girls around and tumbling is technique and really with just about minimal strength and good practice you can be a pretty good cheerleader. Throughout most of my cheerleading career I was only 5’10, 175 pounds, and I think I did fine. That said you can always get bigger or stronger, and strength certainly helps, but I’ve never heard of someone getting on steroids so they could boost their cheerleading career.

How did you react to Georgetown's loss to Ohio? Did the loss feel like more of a punch to your stomach or was it more of a steaming hot syringe being slowly pushed into your eyeball?

I’m not sure about a punch to the stomach or a hot steaming syringe, but it definitely hurt, and after the success of the Big East Tournament, I don’t think anyone saw it coming. It was very much a shock to go from such a high the week before to such an unexpected low. After the loss, we went straight from the game to the hotel and then to the airport within about 2 hours and we were back in DC that night. I think it all went by so quickly that it was one big sad blur, and I never really had that one moment where I realized I wouldn’t cheer at another Georgetown basketball game. For instance, just in the time it took to get on the plane, I was talking with Rich Chvotkin about whether or not Greg Monroe would stay? It’s not that it was easy to just move on, but in such circumstances, you really don’t want to linger in the moment. You find something else to look to and at the least distract you from what just happened. Besides, we had the women’s team out in California, and with the year they were having, I was still very hopeful that they could put together a run and would thus need cheerleaders in the 3rd and 4th rounds of the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

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COMING TOMORROW: PART 3

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