A cheerleader flies through the air chanting and clapping as another teammate guarantees she has a smooth landing.
Rather than watching three female cheerleaders catch her, a male cheerleader stands below anticipating her every move.
“Without guys you have at least three times as more girls because for every one guy putting a girl up, if she plans on standing there, it takes three or four girls to [do the same,]” said Tyson Hubbard, a junior finance major from St. George.
Although most of the men haven’t stunted before joining the cheer team, cheerleading coach Kristi Shaw said she doesn’t expect them to be pros in the beginning. Instead, she looks for those who show potential, strength and the desire to learn.
“I would honestly say 9 out of 10 of my male cheerleaders have never cheered before,” Shaw said.
Because most cheer teams in high schools are not co-ed, Shaw said this contributes to several male students’ lacking any knowledge about cheer. Not to mention, Shaw said it can also be difficult to find men who are interested in trying out for the cheer team because it is stigmatized as a feminine sport.
“It is an athletic sport for both men and women, and there is so much work, energy and time put into being a cheerleader,” Shaw said. “What I have found is if we can get the guys to go to one or two practices, they almost always stay for the year and end up trying out because it is so much fun and it is physically challenging.”
Not thinking much about it at the time, Tyson Hubbard and a friend showed up to one of the cheer practices to see what the sport entailed.
“I just thought, ‘Oh this will be fun to go hang out with my friend and some cute girls, maybe make some new friends and that will be that,'” Hubbard said.
After attending practice, Hubbard said coach Shaw approached them afterwards to see if they were interested in joining the team.
“So all of a sudden we’re sitting here thinking, ‘Should we join the cheer team?”’ Hubbard said. “We have these stereotypes running around in our heads like, ‘I don’t want to be a cheerleader; that’s weird.’ But we drove home that night and thought to ourselves, ‘You know, this would be a great thing to do and an awesome story that we could tell to our kids and grandkids one day that we were once cheerleaders.'”
Although he was hesitant in the beginning, Hubbard has been with the cheer team since last year. His family was also somewhat surprised when he told them he was a cheerleader; however, Hubbard said they have been supportive since day one.
Despite hearing the occasional comment or joke about being a cheerleader, Hubbard said the criticism doesn’t bother him because he met his wife on the cheer team.
“If you think it’s gay to hang out with a bunch of girls for 10 hours a week, alright, sorry you have that misconception,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard and his wife, Brecklyn Hubbard, are co-captains for DSU’s cheer team this year.
Because Dixie State University has a co-ed cheer team, Shaw said the students are given the opportunity to perform more basket tosses, pyramids and stunts, which are building performances that display a person’s skill.
When they aren’t showing off their skills on the football sidelines or cheer competitions, the team is expected to practice 3-4 times a week.
The students meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 a.m. on the football field to practice. They also meet at a local gymnasium Wednesday evenings to focus entirely on free form stunting, Hubbard said.
Taris Schramm, a sophomore criminal justice major from Payson, said during these practices, it is crucial for everyone involved to learn to how put their faith in another teammate’s abilites.
“You really have to learn how to trust people so you can learn [how to perform] cool tricks in the air with another cheerleader,” Schramm said.
For those interested in joining the cheer team, coach Shaw can be contacted at 435-757-1155 for more information.