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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Male cheerleading more than meets the eye

    Courtesy+of+Andrew+MaggioBiomedical+engineering+junior+Andrew+Maggio+%28bottom+center%29+with+the+UA+Cheerleading+line+outside+of+the+MGM+Grand+Garden+Arena+in+Las+Vegas+during+the+2015+Pac-12+mens+basketball+tournament.

    Courtesy of Andrew Maggio

    Biomedical engineering junior Andrew Maggio (bottom center) with the UA Cheerleading line outside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas during the 2015 Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament.

    While most UA students enjoy watching the Wildcat basketball and football players demolish their opponents comfortably from the ZonaZoo section, biomedical engineering junior Andrew Maggio, cheers them on in a different position: on the field itself. As a sophomore here at the university, Maggio said he encountered a unique opportunity — to become a male cheerleader.

    “The experiences I’ve had in this last year alone, from the bowl games … to the Pac-12 Championship in Las Vegas, to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games, are amazing,” Maggio said. “I never thought I would be on the court or a part of the game experience.”

    Maggio loved being a member of the ZonaZoo his freshman year, but he said cheering for the Wildcats out on the field definitely takes the cake.

    “I enjoyed being a fan, but it’s a whole different experience seeing the experience right in front of your eyes,” Maggio said. “It’s very breathtaking.”

    He said his first game experience made him appreciate his openness to give the stereotypically female sport a try.

    “One of my most memorable [cheer] experiences was being able to run the flag out,” Maggio said. “Running out there, with the fireworks exploding — I’m on the field. Knowing that I would be doing this for the rest of the year really hit me.”

    He said he craves the adrenaline rush that cheer brings him, “[loving] every minute of it.”

    Though incredibly involved in UA’s cheerleading scene now, Maggio said he was not always so convinced that cheerleading was the sport for him.

    “As a freshman, … I remember [thinking] it was kind of goofy, guy cheerleaders and all,” he said.

    Maggio, not anticipating he would ever be a cheerleader, said he became involved in a somewhat random way.

    “I ended up dating one of [the cheerleaders], and she asked me to come check it out,” Maggio said. “I was here for [resident assistant] training, so I thought ‘why not give it a shot?” 

    He added that, aside from the sport fitting his schedule, his friend, Mitch Wagner, who was Wilbur his sophomore year, also convinced him to join after telling Maggio about the athletic opportunities cheerleading offered.

    Maggio said he does not regret giving the presumably female sport a chance. He said it provides him with many more benefits than he ever thought it could. 

    “You really have to work at it,” he said. “[Cheerleading] is definitely not easy. Once I learned the technique, though, everything got a lot easier.” 

    Cheerleading goes beyond entertaining the thousands of Wildcat spectators at every football, basketball and volleyball game, according to Maggio.

    “We do a lot of volunteer events around Tucson,” he said. “I teach cheer clinics for younger kids and high schoolers. … I never thought I would teach cheer clinics. I didn’t expect there would be people who look up to us; … being around that group humbled me.” 

    After becoming a more skilled cheerleader, he said his new goal is to “give back” to his community through cheer. He said he wants to occasionally return to his high school and help out its cheer team.

    Of course, as a male cheerleader, stereotypes of the sport always persist. Maggio said that although he finds college to be a much more accepting environment of those who break stereotypes, especially those of gender in sports, a couple stereotypes still persist.

    “The the number one stereotype that we get nagged on most is, ’Are there a lot of gay guys on your team?’” he said. 

    He said he thinks the stereotype is unimportant because, regardless of his teammates’ sexual orientations, he has made great friendships.

    “None of us came to college to cheer,” Maggio said regarding his male teammates. “We just came to college and ended up finding cheer through opportunities through people. I’m proud that I was able to step forward and actually attempt it. … My college experience is unique because of it.”

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    Follow Brenna Bailey on Twitter.

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