Avon Introduces New Co-Ed Cheer Team

By Laura Reynolds | Reporter

“Mental confidence.”

That is what junior Seth Lewis said it takes to be a male cheerleader.

This year, the cheer program has expanded its diversity by adding boys into the mix. Coach Denise Handlon sought this change for many reasons, including the hope that it will contribute to a more spirited student section at basketball games.

“During basketball season, the fan participation seems to drop off,” Handlon explained.

She said that this year’s winter cheerleading tryouts were more popular than in previous years, noting that the formation of a co-ed team could be the reason why.

“We have a lot of talent during this basketball season, which is unusual because we don’t usually get a big turnout [at tryouts],” sophomore and cheerleader Abby Birch said.

Some of the guys on this team have been showing up to tumbling on Sunday nights for over a year, which has helped build skills and talent.

Senior Kelly Carr, one of six boys now on the cheer team, said it is a positive addition to Avon because “guys and girls are working together for their school.”

Along with many positive effects of a co-ed team, there are also many challenges.

Several girls that said that, when it comes to what they wear during practice, they now have to be a little more mindful of their surroundings.

“We have to make sure of what we’re wearing to practices now because it’s not just an all-girls team anymore,” Birch said.

Now that there are boys on the team, there are not only girls to account for. The team has had to find a uniform that would look acceptable on a guy’s body as well.

The men on this team have some worries of their own, however. Many of the guys worry about whether or not they can truly perform the stunts the team will be doing throughout their routine.

“I think a challenge that may come up could be trying to catch the girls and make sure they don’t fall,” Seth Lewis said.

The reasoning behind why the guys on this team originally tried out varies. Some wanted to show they can do something different; others said it would be a fun activity to try.

“Most [students] are surprised that I am on the team,” Carr said. “They always knew me as the mascot.”

While Carr decided to try out in order to show his support for our school in a different way than everyone knew him for, Lewis tried out simply because he “thought it would be fun.”

Many people think this team is a good investment to our school, for a plethora of reasons.
Abby Birch said she is excited that this team could actually happen because it allows the team to do harder things, such as their stunts.

“I think it opens up the gateway so [cheerleading] is not as much of a ‘not sport.’ And, hopefully, people won’t look down on cheerleading like they used to,” Lewis said.

Not everyone is so sure about how this new team will turn out for Avon. Some team members say it comes down to how seriously the guys take it.

“Hopefully, I think that other people will see that we are serious about this and the guys are serious about this too,” Birch said. “I hope more guys turn out for this next season.”

Photos by Rachel Moore 

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