Rhodes Breaks Tyrone’s Cheerleading Gender Barrier


Brandon Escala

Paul Rhodes

By Grace LeGars, Tyrone Area High School

Sophomore Paul Rhodes may be the first male cheerleader in Tyrone High School history. Whether he’s truly the first is debatable, but either way, Rhodes is history in the making.

Rhodes got his start in cheerleading in middle school.

I did it as soon as I could which was my seventh-grade year,” said Rhodes. “After that, I took a bit of a break, and now I’m doing it this year. I plan on cheering for the rest of my high school career.”

This is his first year on the varsity team, and he has contributed a lot to the squad already.

“Paul brings a neutral balance. He is willing and helpful to all squad members. He also brings his own style. He makes the chants and dances his own,” said Coach Amy Fleck.

Coach Jess Anderson added by saying that he has such a great attitude at practices and events. She says he brings enthusiasm to the squad.

With cheerleading having so many different aspects, there is not one he doesn’t like doing. From band dances to cheers to just showing school spirit, Rhodes enjoys them all. But if he had to pick, stunting is definitely his favorite.

“It’s fun to put girls up, and [stunts] can be really cool,” said Rhodes.

This season he has learned some new two-man stunts and has been working with his group on perfecting their basket toss. Rhodes is a back spot this season but was previously a base.   

Cheerleading also has several aspects of difficulty according to Rhodes.

“People think cheerleading is easy and they mimic it, but there is a lot that goes into it. You have to remember all the cheers,” said Rhodes, “You have to be strong and have endurance. Going from a cheer straight into a dance is difficult and tiring.”

Although some may view cheerleading as an all-girl sport, that doesn’t stop Rhodes.

Being the only guy has not been fazed him and he fits in seamlessly with the rest of the squad.

According to captains Jayde LaRosa and Arian Hicks, Rhodes is a delight and a benefit for the squad.

“[Paul] has helped shape us into a better squad by being there for his teammates when it’s needed. If anyone has met Paul they know it is impossible to not smile when he’s around,” said LaRosa.

All the girls support me, and I don’t really have any trouble with it. We all have a common goal, so gender doesn’t really affect anything”

— Paul Rhodes

Hicks agrees. “Paul brings a sense of purpose to the squad. Not many can accomplish what he does,” said Hicks.

As for Rhodes, he just loves being a part of a team. 

“All the girls support me, and I don’t really have any trouble with it,” said Rhodes. “We all have a common goal, so gender doesn’t really affect anything.”

And he hasn’t been nervous of what people might say.

“I’ve always been confident and always sought out what I wanted to do regardless of people’s opinions,” said Rhodes.

Gender doesn’t affect his ability to fit in, but when competition season starts, the squad will have to compete in the co-ed division.

“Paul puts us in a whole different category, co-ed!” said Coach Fleck. The co-ed division will increase difficulty, but the squad has big plans.

Paul and the rest of the squad are looking forward to the upcoming competition season.

“I am so looking forward to competition season,” said Rhodes. “Adding a competitive element to it makes it ten times better. It’s going to be harder but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Paul loves Tyrone and strives to stay out of the box.  So naturally, cheerleading is a match for him.

“I would encourage other males to try cheerleading. It’s a lot of fun,” said Paul.

For the competition season, the squad will go up against teams with many guys. So anyone interested in joining, the squad is always welcoming members at the start of the new season.

This story was originally published on Tyrone Eagle Eye News on September 18, 2018.