Predominantly a female sport, male cheerleaders are typically harder to find. However, four men found their way to the BYU-Hawaii campus and became cheerleaders, and it all started with a breakup.
D.J. Johnson, a sophomore in intercultural peace building from Phoenix, Ariz., said he had just broken up with his girlfriend when he started contemplating joining the BYUH cheerleading team.
“I suddenly had all this free time and needed something to do,” he said because of the breakup. Johnson said he thought joining the cheerleading team “it might be a fun way to meet new people and spend my time.” Then he decided to get his friends involved too, Johnson said with a laugh.
“I really would have never joined the team if it weren’t for D.J. He was very convincing,” said Justin Mason, a rookie cheerleader and sophomore in business from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
After joining the team and convincing one of his roommates to join the squad, Johnson continued recruitment with Jonathan Kouts, a junior in biology from Mesa, Ariz. “I had a few friends already cheerleading. They enjoyed it and said that it would be fun so I gave it a try,” said Kouts. “Jon played hard to get,” added Mason.
“It took Justin and me a while to persuade him. After a couple practices, he realized that it was going to be worth it, as we all did,” said Johnson.
Besides being a good way to spend their leisure time, the three friends said they are really enjoying their time on the squad.
Kouts said he likes performing in front of a crowd and the pressure that comes with it. “It’s the thrill that gets my adrenaline racing,” he said. While it may be thrilling, being a male cheerleader is also hard work.
“The role of the male cheerleader is to show the girls’ talents off. We are there to throw the girls in the air and to help them do amazing tricks,” said Johnson.
Kouts said, “Cheer is not as easy as I imagine. Everyone should have mad respect for what these girls do.” Although females are the stars of the squad, the male cheerleaders bring more to the gym than tumble support.
“The boys really help support the team and bring us all together as a one big family,” said Haley Bleazard, a sophomore in biology from Cedar City, Utah. “It’s a lot more than just getting the crowd riled up and the boys know that.”