cHEerleading

%E2%80%9CYou+don%E2%80%99t+have+to+be+gay+to+do+cheerleading%2C%E2%80%9D+Ahr+says.+%E2%80%9CYou+can+do+cheerleading+if+you+want%3B+%5Bpeople%5D+should+be+like%2C+%E2%80%98Oh%2C+it%E2%80%99s+a+fun+activity.%E2%80%99%E2%80%9D
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cHEerleading

“You don’t have to be gay to do cheerleading,” Ahr says. “You can do cheerleading if you want; [people] should be like, ‘Oh, it’s a fun activity.’”

“You don’t have to be gay to do cheerleading,” Ahr says. “You can do cheerleading if you want; [people] should be like, ‘Oh, it’s a fun activity.’”

DeLila Green

“You don’t have to be gay to do cheerleading,” Ahr says. “You can do cheerleading if you want; [people] should be like, ‘Oh, it’s a fun activity.’”

DeLila Green

DeLila Green

“You don’t have to be gay to do cheerleading,” Ahr says. “You can do cheerleading if you want; [people] should be like, ‘Oh, it’s a fun activity.’”

By Maya Kim, Kirkwood High School

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“Sophomores! Battle cry!” the JV cheerleaders shouted. It’s the first pep rally of the year, and the cheerleaders are leading the infamous battle cry.

“V-I-C-T-O-R-Y is the sophomore battle cry!” The sophomore class cries. The gym is filled with cheering, yelling and booing as each class spells out ‘victory.’ A tall, red-haired boy can be seen waving pom poms in the air. The students in the bleachers cheer louder for him.

David Ahr, sophomore, is the only male cheerleader on the junior varsity cheerleading team. Ahr tried out for the cheer team during the spring of his freshman year.

“[Tryouts were] quite scary,” Ahr said. “I’m just so self-conscious, and it’s like, ‘Am I doing it right?’ But it went pretty well.”

Ashley Stevens, the junior varsity cheer coach, began coaching at KHS this year. While she has never coached a team with a male, Stevens said Ahr is an important member of the team.

“[He has] quick wit, [he is] super funny, energetic and outgoing, which I think adds to a really good vibe for the team,” Steven said. “He is also looking to help everyone, and really wants to encourage others.”

There are the girls who are super supportive, [who say], ‘Go David! He’s an icon!’ and then there’s the guys that are just like, ‘Yay, go David.’ They’re just jealous that I get to be with a bunch of girls.”

— David Ahr

Ahr said he found a lot of motivation and support from his teammates. Emelia Pierre, sophomore, and junior varsity cheerleader, is a close friend of Ahr’s. According to Pierre, they all support each other.

“[At tryouts] I didn’t expect him, but when I saw him I got really excited,” Pierre said. “We were both really rooting for each other too.”

Pierre said she views Ahr as a big contribution to the team. She said he’s good at encouraging others, and everyone benefits from having him on the team.

“He has a megaphone, so he really amplifies his voice,” Pierre said. “[He’s] very helpful, especially if one person in a stunt group is hurt, he fills in for them.”

According to Ahr, there is a very different energy when he’s performing versus when he’s practicing. Ahr said he feels positive energy when doing what he loves in front of the school. However, Ahr said he isn’t blind to some of the mocking coming from his fellow students.

“At the sophomore assembly you could tell who was doing the mocking,” Ahr said. “[Students saying], ‘Eh, go David,’ and ‘Hahaha, he’s gay.”

Despite feeling mocked by students, Ahr loves the reactions he sees when performing. He said watching the people mocking him.

“They get jealous sometimes,” Ahr said. “There are the girls who are super supportive, [who say], ‘Go David! He’s an icon!’ and then there’s the guys that are just like, ‘Yay, go David.’ They’re just jealous that I get to be with a bunch of girls.”

Ahr said he wants people to know he simply doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of his decision to be a cheerleader. He enjoys being on the team, and doing what he loves. Unlike Ahr, Pierre said she doesn’t take the inappropriate comments as lightly as he does.

“It’s really inappropriate and immature,” Pierre says. “I really don’t understand why people can’t just accept him for who he is, it’s just offensive.”

Pierre said that reporting instances of inappropriate commentary can help put a stop to mocking. She said that she views males in cheer as something that shouldn’t be a big deal, and Ahr should be treated as equal to the girls on the team. Ahr and Pierre both hope that in the future, males in cheer can be more accepted.

“You don’t have to be gay to do cheerleading,” Ahr says. “You can do cheerleading if you want; [people] should be like, ‘Oh, it’s a fun activity.’”

Pierre said there’s a stigma revolving around males involved with cheer at KHS. She said males should be able to do anything they want, free of judgement from other people.

“Unfortunately, [males in cheer is] uncommon for this school, since there are only two boys that tried out,” Pierre said. “I feel like we should encourage them to try out because that’s probably the reason why some of them don’t try out.”

Aside from hoping the future for cheer can become more diverse, Ahr said he also has some personal goals. Ahr expressed his hopes for growing this year in cheer, so next year he has a chance of being on the varsity team.

“I want to be good enough so that the varsity coach will notice me,” Ahr says. “Not just because I’m a guy, but notice me [because], ‘Oh he’s actually pretty good, and maybe I’ll put him on varsity next year.’”

This story was originally published on The Kirkwood Call on September 17, 2019.