“I got made fun of a little bit, (but) I mean, I get to hang out with cheerleaders all the time.”
Yell leaders back on cheer squad
Emporia State can finally boast once again of having, among the ranks of its cheerleaders, five male yell leaders. And they all say they are happy to devote their time to the leaps and pyramids which provide for athletes and students alike both support and spectacle.
“This is the first year we’ve had yell leaders in a while,” said Angela Blaufuss-Nunley, head coach and ESU alum.
But seeing the guys out on the court during one evening practice, it seems hard to imagine there was ever a time without them.
“My favorite thing is the camaraderie of the team,” said Mike Bess, sophomore psychology major.
Many of this year’s yell leaders were asked by friends or girls already on the squad to join the team. But one, Kevin Flanders, junior psychology major, found his way to the squad by means of fellow a yell leader on his rugby team.
“It was very different, seeing as I’ve played full-contact sports,” Flanders said. “It’s definitely a different environment.”
Yet cheerleading and yell leading are not so different from most other athletics, the guys said – the key lies in trust.
“You have to trust everybody,” said Jacob Lakey, freshman business major.
Trust is especially crucial in the role of a yell leader. One of their primary roles, according to Zachary Nance, freshman psychology and criminal justice major, is to make sure the cheerleaders don’t fall when they are stunting.
“I got made fun of a little bit,” Nance said. “(But) I mean, I get to hang out with cheerleaders all the time.”
Cheerleading and yell leading, however, are not officially recognized as sports by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Blaufuss-Nunley said she does not agree with this ruling.
“It’s difficult to require so much of them physically, professionally, and academically and not also being able to tell them they receive that recognition as an athlete,” Blaufuss-Nunley said.
But Nick Donovan, former yell leader and ESU alum, disagreed.
“It takes a lot of athleticism,” Donovan said, “but until you get into the actual competitive side of it, I don’t actually view it as a sport.”
The sentiment differed amongst the team, but Jacob Lee Baker, freshman business major, best put the argument to rest.
“ESU recognizes it as a sport,” he said, “so I don’t care.”
Blaufuss-Nunley said she loves to work with the team as a whole – guys and gals both – and that she’s very proud of the dynamic the group has.
“I don’t know what the squad would be like without them,” said Samantha Jacob, cheerleader and sophomore Spanish and nursing major.