Two Captains answer what it’s like to be male in a mostly female-dominated sport
“A lot of people come up to me and say, ‘You’re so good, you’re even better than some of the girls,” junior Antoine Massdin said with a smile when asked about how people react when they learn that he is one of Christopher Newport’s few male cheerleaders. “It’s so crazy how many people [tell me that.] I’m like ‘oh, thank you, I don’t think so, but thank you!’”
Massdin, along with sophomore Matthew Delano, are Christopher Newport’s only male cheerleaders for the 2019-2020 school year.
Both Massdin and Delano took an interest in the sport from a young age.
Massdin said, “The middle school coach wanted me to try out in eighth grade, and I was like, ‘Um, I’m not too sure,’ but then I did try out. In 9th grade, I tried other sports, but then I was like, maybe that coach has an idea, maybe she saw something in me. So I tried out for cheerleading my sophomore year.” The rest was history.
Delano’s background in gymnastics and encouragement from a coach during his senior year of high school inspired him to pursue the sport as he transitioned into college.
“I actually took my little cousin to her gymnastics practice [one day], and just watching her at her practice, it made me really miss it, and I thought it was going to be my last chance, so I had to take it,” said Delano. “I fell in love with cheerleading that year, which made me try out here [at CNU.]”
Delano and Massdin both love the many different aspects that cheerleading encompasses, including tumbling, stunts and jumps. “I always get wrapped up in performing, and making an appearance in front of the crowd,” Massdin said. “I was like ‘oh, wait, I really like doing both of these things!’ I like the physical aspect of it and I like being the center of attention.”
When asked about any possible discrimination or negative comments they may have received due to being male in a sport dominated by women, Massdin said, “I get the opposite, actually.”
Likewise, Delano said that he typically receives positive reactions from people when they hear that he is a cheerleader, but this isn’t always the case. “Most of [the reactions I receive] are like ‘oh, that’s really cool,’ but I have gotten the typical comment and the stereotype asking me if I’m gay,” he said.
Massdin, who is gay, responded, “Yeah, you’ve got two different viewpoints of actually being a gay male and not being a gay male.”
According to their accounts of their experiences on the squad, Delano and Massdin both expressed that the main problem that their gender could create on the team is the decision of what division the squad will fall under if they compete. “[That’s really one of] the only negatives about being guys within this sport,” Delano said.
Massdin explained, “Because we’re males, [it has to be considered that] if we get put on the competition team, we have to go coed, which is a harder division. [Does the team] choose to satisfy me and Matt and put us on the team because we work so hard and have the skills, or do they stick with what they know and what the best formula is for winning and go in an all-girls [division]?”
He and Delano expressed that the girls on their squad are extremely supportive of them and that they rely on them to be their support as well, both emotionally as a team and physically.
They all support one another in several ways. Massdin said, “I feel like [as men] we’re looked at as a higher standard because people think, ‘Oh, they’re men, they should be strong’ and we are strong.”
The sense of teamwork and camaraderie is strong within CNU’s cheerleading squad, and each member of the team gets a sense of that no matter what their gender or their background is.
Delano and Massdin have created a lasting place for themselves among the ranks of CNU’s cheerleaders throughout the years.
They have created a legacy for more male cheerleaders to follow in their footsteps for years to come.
~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~