“My favorite thing about Red Rhythm is everything”

The third installment in a special report on students challenging stereotypes within sports

Sophomore+Simon+Pham%2C+breaks+gender+stereotypes+by+becoming+the+first+male+dancer.+Although+Pham+has+received+some+criticism%2C+he%27s+not+planning+on+letting+that+get+to+him.

Provided by Simon Pham

Sophomore Simon Pham, breaks gender stereotypes by becoming the first male dancer. Although Pham has received some criticism, he’s not planning on letting that get to him.

By Remi Williams, Liberty High School - TX

Only one year after the first male cheerleader and first female football player, Redhawk students continue to defy gender norms in sports and fine arts as the campus has their first male dance team member, junior Simon Pham.

The dream of becoming a dancer didn’t start at Red Rhythm, but it made it a reality.

“I decided to join the Red Rhythm because ever since I was younger I wanted to dance so badly,” Pham said. “The moment I decided to join was freshman year when I watched Red Rhythm practice field kick with the band.”

With no history of dancing outside of school, Pham got mixed reactions when he first expressed interest in joining Red Rhythm.

“At first parents thought that me trying out for the drill team was a joke and they were not really supportive of me,” Pham said. “I kept pushing and pushing for it until they finally gave in. My friends both in school and outside of school have all been really supportive which is such a blessing and they always show me their support.”

Adding a boy to the mix brought some new elements to the dance team.

“We have had fun collaborating and creating a field uniform for Simon to wear at football season,” Red Rhythm director Nicole Nothe said. “We enjoyed celebrating Simon as the first Rookie Rhythm of the Week at the first football performance.”

In addition to new costumes, Pham adds a different element to the dances.

“He brings a lot of height to our team,” Red Rhythm captain senior Abby Strater said. “We lost a lot of our tall dancers two years ago, and that is important to have in routines.”

However, joining the team came with some whispers throughout the school.

“The biggest challenge I would say is being in a Red Rhythm is facing criticism from both the student population and the parents of those students,” Pham said. “I know that they do not voice their opinions about me on the drill team publicly but I have heard many things behind my back. I have learned to ignore it and carry on with my life because as long I am happy doing the thing I love, I don’t really have the energy to care what people think.”

Even with some negativity, Pham appreciates the environment he is surrounded by.

“My favorite thing about Red Rhythm is everything, from practices to social time to football games and even roll calls,” he said. “I treasure every single moment with this team. I love how we are not just a team but a very close family.”

Aside from the dance routines and morning practices, Pham sees Red Rhythm as a family away from home.

“The directors are always there for everyone on the team and they are such amazing teachers, coaches, guides, and mentors,” Pham said. “I am so blessed to have them as my coaches. In the drill team, they take their time with practices and understand mental health and problems meaning that there will be hardships in practice and in the team sometimes but we stop and take a group breather and take a step back for a second. and a key factor is that they know that not everything in life is about dance.”

This story was originally published on Wingspan on October 29, 2020.