BY EMMA SUNDEEN & JUSTINE YEYKAL
“Being a cheerleader is about friendship, family and just being happy,” says Josh Williams, one of the few male cheerleaders on the Bozeman High cheer squad. Williams goes on to say that it takes a lot of courage for a guy to be a cheerleader when dealing with the possibility of teasing or backlash.
Williams, a cheerleader on the varsity squad, says he first began cheer because of a girl.
“I liked a girl that was on cheer and I wanted to get to know her better by doing something she liked,” he says.
He realized afterwards that he loved cheer and wanted to continue on with the sport. Williams says that being the only male cheerleader on the team was awkward at first, but the team became a family.
For head coach Lacy Browne, Williams’ presence is a positive one.
“He has a great personality, he’s always optimistic, he is a very kind person and has a lot of the characteristics personality wise in a cheer teammate,” says Browne, who adds that he brings “a fun diversity to the squad. I think it’s great to show there’s collegiate male cheerleaders all the time.”
A senior this year, Williams assures us that he hasn’t received any backlash for being a male cheerleader and his peers’ reactions were encouraging.
“They’re supportive [and] they don’t make fun of me,” he says.
He adds that there is occasional teasing but nothing done to intentionally hurt him.
He was then questioned whether or not he believes there is a bias against male cheerleaders in society.
“I think outside of cheer there might be [a bias], but inside cheer they love having guy cheerleaders because it helps with stunts, helps with routines,” says Williams.
Browne adds, “[Williams] adds a lot of positive energy [and] is motivated. In a teammate in any sport it’s good to have just genuine care and optimism, passion for the sport.”
Williams teammate Megan Ely, also a senior, had more positive words to say about Williams.
“He’s super positive and uplifting for us; his energy is a main thing that is different for us and it helps when one of us is down,” she adds, “I think it brings something different that you can’t have with all girls, like especially when it comes to stunting, he can help out in a lot of ways. And it’s also just like a different dynamic than having all girls on the team.”
Ely adds that, “Having a male cheerleader is something so new… It might open up a new opportunity to have guys on the team and maybe in the future it might change something. He just adds to the team.”