Co-Ed Cheer Is Here

EHMS Eighth Grader Jackson Yates Breaks The Cheerleading Stereotype
The 2022-23 East Hardin Middle School Cheer Squad. Courtesy of Amanda Craft.
The 2022-23 East Hardin Middle School Cheer Squad. Courtesy of Amanda Craft.

Just 14 years ago a story was published on WLKY about a sixth-grade boy, Bobby Thorn, who was not allowed to join the cheerleading team at East Hardin Middle School.

“…she [Thorn’s mother] has sworn statements from other parents stating the coach admitted cutting Bobby because she didn’t want a boy on her team,” WLKY issued.

Unlike the coach who turned away Thorn, current EHMS cheerleading coach Amanda Craft has changed the narrative, recruiting eighth grader Jackson Yates to be on the squad this year.

“Jackson has impacted the cheer team in that the girls are more accepting. They treat Jack as one of the team and don’t see him as different. The rest of the team adores him,” Craft said.

To describe Yates in one word, Craft used “perseverance.”

“He never gives up, has a contagious smile with a great attitude, and often asks what he can do to improve,” Craft shared.

This is Yates’ first year cheering, and with his newfound experience, he has no intention of it being his last. The high school team can look forward to his appearance next school year.

On the flip side, many of us know middle schoolers can be ruthless when addressing those who go against a “societal norm.” Yates has tuned out any hateful comments that came with his addition to the team. 

“I don’t pay attention to them,” Yates said.

Both Craft and Yates encourage those who may be hesitant to try cheerleading to give it a shot. Contrary to popular belief, there is so much more to the sport than glitter and pom poms. If you don’t end up liking it, that’s okay, but it never hurts to try something new.

“My advice to anyone who wants to try out for the cheer squad is to show up [and] to show out, have confidence in yourself and your abilities, and bring the Bruin pride,” Craft said. 

“Don’t let anyone say you can’t,” Yates said.

According to NCSA Sports, male cheerleaders actually have a better shot at landing a full-ride scholarship. Some college programs will designate up to 14 scholarships for male athletes on their teams.

When it comes to the different categories of stunting, tumbling, dance, or cheers, Yates’ favorite aspect of cheer is tumbling, along with performing at pep rallies.

“I love it any time they hit a new skill, whether it’s tumbling, stunting, or being in sync with a cheer or dance. I love how the team comes together to support one another,” Craft commented.

For the remainder of the East Hardin cheerleading season, Yates strives to help lead the team toward a state title, and Craft has a strong belief that they will be coming home with a trophy in hand.

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  • J

    jackson yatesJan 19, 2023 at 10:08 am

    its really good