The USD cheer team includes three men, who provide extra strength and voices for the group.
The men do a lot of partner stunts, which involve one flyer for each. They’re often back bases, typically the stronger members of the team.
“The stunt is made up of four people: the back base, two girls on the side and the flyer. As the back base, you are basically the back bone of the stunt,” said Richard Sauer, a graduate student and back base. “It’s very important for you to secure the stunt and make sure the flyer is stable and also that you ensure the safety of the flyer coming down.”
Sophomore back base Tyler Ehrp said trust and safety play important roles in stunts.
“It takes a lot for the flyer to trust the three bases,” Ehrp said. “We emphasize safety a lot at practice. We always have extra people spotting, so if the stunt fails, there’s extra people there to catch it so no one gets hurt.”
Sauer said he has a responsibility to the flyer.
“Specifically as a back base, my mentality is that if the flyer drops, no matter what, you catch her,” he said. “As soon as the flyer knows that no matter what, we’ll catch her, that’s when the stunts will get better.”
Ehrp said he joined the team in fall 2016 because it seemed interesting.
“I just wanted to get involved,” he said. “It gave me something to do.”
Sauer joined in spring 2016, but has been interested in cheering since high school.
“I wasn’t able to be on the team (in high school),” he said. “I just love tossing people around and using my strength.”
Sauer said there are a few negative stereotypes surrounding male cheerleaders.
“A lot of times, guys think that if a guy does cheerleading he’s more on the feminine side of the ‘dude’ spectrum, but frankly speaking, it couldn’t be further away from that,” Sauer said. “I think it’s quite manly to throw a 120-pound girl up six feet in the air and then holding her there for a couple of seconds, controlled, and do that several times for several different stunts.”
Despite this, Ehrp said he doesn’t see male cheerleaders as a strange thing, even though the team consists mainly of women.
“We enjoy it and it’s fun, actually,” he said. “It is a physical sport — you’re using almost every muscle and throwing girls, holding them, doing stunts. So it is physical. Some people look at it like, ‘Wow, you guys are studs,’ and some people don’t respect it.”
The male cheerleaders’ tryout process is a little different from the women, Sauer said. They focus more on stunting and leading chants.
Male cheerleaders are an important addition to cheerleading teams, Ehrp said.
“The girls are obviously leaders, but the guys are kind of the backbone of the stunts, so we take pride in doing (a lot of work),” he said.
Sauer said having male perspectives on the team helps provide a balance.
“If you’re on the field and it’s just loud, it’s kind of easier for a guy to grab the megaphone and scream into it to start a cheer,” he said. “Overall, it’s also nice to keep the general energy up. Having someone from the opposite gender helps to sympathize with you sometimes.”
Cheering at the football games is what Ehrp he enjoys most, he said.
“I enjoy everything,” he said. “Full house, loud, great game — that’s the best part.”
Darko Antevski was unavailable for an interview before the article was published.