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First-years bring gender diversity to Drake cheerleading

Story by Ashley Beall

Photo Courtesy Fallon Parker

cheerleaderzFor the first time in a while, the Drake University cheerleading team has three male members.

The team welcomed three first-year students at the start of the school year, Brandon Chan, Wayne Stratbucker and Juan Hermoza.

“I really think they are a great asset to the team, and I hope they stay with cheerleading all four years,” said sophomore cheerleader Elizabeth Worrell. “It would be wonderful if we got a couple more guys because they bring more muscle to the team. Brandon, Juan and Wayne enhance the team, and their energy and humor brings the team together.”

All three first-years were recruited by members of the team.

Stratbucker was the first to approach head cheerleading coach Fallon Parker. Stratbucker had been his high school’s mascot and had experience lifting girls in show choir.

Even though there weren’t any men on the team until last year, that didn’t deter Stratbucker from joining the team.

“That was actually kind of exciting for me because the team is starting out where I was starting out,” Stratbucker said. “I have never really done cheerleading before, and they had never really had that many guy cheerleaders that stayed the whole years.”

Hermoza had done soccer, discus and throwing in high school, so he was accustomed to lifting and found the transition into cheerleading smooth.

As for the typical stereotypes that go with male cheerleaders, Hermoza doesn’t let that get to him.

“My dad and I had a little discussion about it, but in the end he decided, ‘Hey it’s your life, go ahead and do whatever you want,’ and I’ve made some really good friends, and I get free books so that’s pretty awesome,” Hermoza said.

Chan is the only one of the three first-years that cheered in high school and decided to join once he got to Drake. For him, the transition has been easy.

The difficulty level has increased. Chan is also ready to get the students more excited during the games.

“The only way that the students are going to be active is if we are more active,” Chan said. “We have to be extra pumped up, extra happy and just bring as much energy as we can. They’re not going to get pumped up unless we get pumped up.”

As for what the upcoming year brings, Parker is excited to be able to accomplish new tricks the team hasn’t been able to do before.

“The guys fit in just perfectly,” Parker said.

The team is now able to do a few more stunts because of the men due to their strength. They are currently working on partner stunting, and the team has never had the opportunity to do that before.

Last year, the team had two male members for basketball season, and this year, the team started off football season with three men.

Parker said the men bring a different element to game day and help get the crowd more energized..

Now, the team is working on perfecting the back-tuck where the men are able to throw the female cheerleader high enough so she can execute the full rotation.

This hasn’t been done before because they didn’t have the strength to ensure the safety of the women being thrown in the air.

With a lot of work put into the season so far, the male cheerleaders will be in action, along with the rest of the team, at the next home football game on Oct. 26 at Drake Stadium at 1 p.m.

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