DHS students who have attended the numerous spirit assemblies and games that have occurred over the years have watched the cheerleading squad instill excitement and spirit within the student body. For the past two years, amid the typical red and white skirts and pom poms, stands Jr. Jay Fuchs with his megaphone leading classic DHS cheers alongside his team.
Historically, cheerleading in the US has been largely segregated. But over recent years, there has been a significant increase in male participation in the sport. Many agree that creating a more co-ed environment for high school athletics can bridge gender gaps, so students can further their understanding of each other and strengthen as a team. By providing an open environment, cheerleading attracts athletes who haven’t found a home in other sports.
Many male cheerleaders report that the sport gives a chance to further improve athleticism, as well as providing a unique team environment that develops as difficult stunts are mastered. Remaining positive and determined in the face of petty heckling has proved to be a struggle for many male cheerleaders. Although Fuchs is the only current male cheerleader at Durango High School, he hasn’t let this status hinder his passion for the sport, his dedication to the squad, or his positive attitude.
“Many people were apprehensive at the idea of a male cheerleader,” said Fuchs. He struggled to push past stereotypes, but found that those who had at first been hesitant about the idea were very accepting after he explained the positive aspects of cheerleading, which, according to Fuchs, greatly outnumber the drawbacks.
“It’s a great group of people, lead by very passionate coaches, and practices feel much more like having fun than work,” said Fuchs.
Jr. Aja Nakai says that Fuchs brings a unique element to the team as well as being a welcome force of positivity and kindness. “He is the only person who can do coed stunts. He brings a deeper tone when cheering,” said Nakai. Although most teams that the DHS squad competes against have at least 4 male cheerleaders, Fuch’s unique skills that contribute to the team do not go unrecognized.
Nakai also said that “Jay, as a teammate, is always happy and nice to everyone. He gives advice to anyone learning something new, and when there is tension with all of the girls he makes jokes and tries to calm us.” Jay has enjoyed cheerleading with his supportive, tightly-knit team than any other sport he has tried.
“Being the only boy on the team is probably hard for him, but he is a necessity to our squad and we wouldn’t be the same team without him,” said Nakai.
Fuchs has found a home within the cheerleading program, and had nothing but positive things to say, even about the challenges he faces. The DHS cheer squad has proven to create a positive, competitive, and accepting environment for all who enter the program, and welcomes anyone who has interest in the sport with open arms.