Home Sports Local Sports Cheerleading is not just for girls anymore

Cheerleading is not just for girls anymore

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Cheerleaders from left, Cristian Castro of Goddard, Issac Dominguez of Roswell and Antonio Lara of Goddard, shown after the Roswell-Goddard basketball game at Ground Zero Friday. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

There used to be several stereotypes regarding sports. Girls played volleyball, basketball and softball, etc.; boys played football, basketball and baseball, while girls cheered for their teams. This goes all the way back to Roswell Youth Football League.

Alberto Manuel Perez holds a medal from winning at Clovis competition on Saturday. (Submitted Photo)

Today, society has debunked that old myth that restricts which sports athletes play and who cheers for whom. Girls are playing football against boys and baseball against boys. Times and society have changed what is normal and acceptable.

Many people will follow their favorite college basketball team on TV. During the games at timeouts, the camera will focus on the cheerleaders doing their routine. While the cheer team is doing their routine, the cameras will inevitably show a male cheerleader tossing a female cheerleader up into the air and catching them.

Many fans watching don’t think twice that there is a male cheerleader on the team. Nor do they consider the male cheerleader is extremely physically fit and in good enough shape, so much so, they could be competing on the athletic field. To be able to throw the cheerleaders up in the air and catch them without dropping them requires strength, as does holding up the cheerleader with one hand. And then there is the tumbling aspect, which requires them to be limber and have the flexibility of a gymnast.

Many of the male cheerleaders at the Division I schools were recruited for cheer and are attending college on a cheerleading scholarship. Cheer has become so popular that ESPN broadcasts the collegiate championships each summer.

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The New Mexico Activities Association has recognized cheerleading as a sport as early as 2006, and maybe earlier. The NMAA website only goes back to 2006 in dance, cheer and spirit winners, with several of the area schools winning first place many times.

The Roswell Daily Record would like to recognize two male Goddard cheerleaders, one in Roswell and one Dexter male cheerleader.

Antonio Lara is a senior at Goddard who has been a cheerleader for four years. Cheerleading is in his blood.

“I wanted to be a cheerleader because my whole family does cheer,” Lara said. “My mom and sister were cheerleaders and everybody I’ve known does cheer. I wanted to be the first male cheerleader to do all four years.”

His family is very supportive of him cheering, and they want him to keep cheering once his high school career ends. Lara has been offered scholarship opportunities at the next level.

“I’m going to go to Dallas, Texas,” Lara stated, “to compete for a spot on the Cheer Athletic All-Star Team. I’m going to move up there and dedicate my whole life to cheer.”

Issac Dominguez is a ninth-grader at Roswell. This is his first year on the team.

“I just always wanted to be a cheerleader,” Dominguez said. “My family is OK with it.”

Dominguez knew that it would be hard work for him before he tried out but believes that anyone can do it if they have the heart and dedication for cheerleading. He tried out for the cheerleading team when he was in sixth-grade and missed the grade-school team that year. Dominguez was determined to make it his seventh-grade year. He has been on a cheerleading squad ever since.

“My parents think it is amazing,” Dominguez said. “I like the tumbling aspect of cheer. I like how people underestimate cheerleading. If people tried it, they wouldn’t be as good.”

Dominguez wants to continue with cheer until he graduates. His immediate goal is to do a full (backflip) before he graduates in the next three years. He would like to become good enough to get a scholarship for cheer to attend college.

Cristian Castro is a senior at Goddard. Castro has been on the cheer squad for the last two years. Castro, a dancer who has done modern and contemporary types of dancing, says it comes naturally to him and he often dances with his siblings.

“I had an interest in cheer for a while,” Castro said. “I tried out my sophomore year and made it. I’ve been on the team ever since. My parent supports me 100 percent. They appreciate a male cheerleader doing a female sport.”

Castor likes the enthusiasm and good spirit about the sport. He feels like his favorite memory from his cheerleading days at Goddard will be when his team wins the state title this year.

Alberto Manuel Perez is a sophomore at Dexter. Perez’s friends talked him into trying out for cheer when the announcement was made. His friends told him to try it, and if he didn’t like it, he could quit. If he did like it, he could stay.

“I like it,” Perez said, “so I’m sticking with cheer. I want to get good enough to go to college and cheer.”

Perez has been a key cog in the resurgence of the Dexter cheer squad. On Saturday, Dexter won first place for technique, sharpness, game day and showmanship in Clovis, and they beat 6A Clovis as well. Perez is a back spot on the team.

“I like cheer because it keeps me active,” Perez said. “I’ve made a lot of friends on the team. Cheer has kept me out of trouble and helped me keep my grades up. It is a getaway from everything going on around us. Cheer has made me realize that it doesn’t matter who you are, you can still do it no matter what.”

Dexter has been on a roll and this is the second consecutive event they have won, winning in Portales against 3A competition on Dec. 16.

Dexter assistant cheer coach Melanie Estrada credits Perez for his hard work as he won the jump-off between all the sophomores competing in Clovis. Cheer has made a difference in the life of Perez, who was quiet and shy when he first tried out for the team.

“For a person who has never done cheer or tumbled in his life,” Estrada said, “he has grown tremendously. When he first came out, I thought he was at the wrong meeting because he was very quiet and stood by himself. He has just amazed me. If I had to pick a cheerleader who is most improved, it would have to go to him.”

In keeping with the times, the Roswell Daily Record sports department would like to give the local young men who cheer their teams to victory their day in the sun.

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