Cheerleaders are a great way to get a crowd hyped up, especially during sporting events.
NKU’s group of cheerleaders cheer for and support a variety of different sports at NKU, but one support system that goes unnoticed is between the male cheerleaders on the team.
NKU’s cheer team for the 2019-2020 season consists of three male cheerleaders: Zachary Stone, a senior Communication Studies major and the eldest member of the cheer staff, Collin Talbert, a junior Health and Physical Education major and Koran Givens, a freshman Pre-Nursing major.
To cheer coach Shayla Myles-Aaron, male cheerleaders shift the atmosphere of the game. They make the female cheerleaders look forward to more, and they bring the squad together to give the team a more collegiate look.
“I think it’s something refreshing to see in the stands,” Stone said. “Myself as well as the other guys on the team love to just have fun out there. It really boosts the morale on the court and on the sidelines. I think the fans can really tell.”
Givens could also tell that the fans get excited to see male cheerleaders.
“The crowd reacts really well to me. During games, I can see people’s faces light up when they see me throw up a stunt by myself and when they see me tumble. I feel that it takes the fans by surprise because they aren’t used to seeing it,” says Givens.
“The females work just as hard as the males, but the crowd likes to see male cheerleaders be a part of the team because it brings a different effect to the game and atmosphere to the game,” Myles-Aaron said.
Stone is glad to live in a day and age where “male cheerleaders are not only accepted, but encouraged.”
“It’s so exciting to help end the stigma with male cheerleaders, to ultimately show how beautiful this sport really is regardless of your gender,” Stone said.
The addition of more male cheerleaders brings a sense of connection between the current male cheerleaders and the male alumni.
“We have a lot of male alumni, but we haven’t had a lot of male presence in most recent years, so it helps the alumni bond with the kids,” Myles-Aaron said.
The connection goes beyond alumni status, and connects with Greek Life at NKU as well. Both Stone and Givens are brothers in the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.
“There is a bridge between the crowd because we have a lot of our kids in the fraternities right now,” Myles-Aaron said. “It helps frat brothers see another frat brother doing something and recognize them, and it brings more excitement to the game.”
NKU cheerleading goes deeper than getting crowds pumped up for game day. To the male cheerleaders, it builds character and dedication like any other sport.
“To be a male cheerleader, you need to have heart. The heart to go out and cheer for your team no matter the situation. You need to be there to lift up your teammates and keep them safe.” Givens said. “You need to have confidence. Confidence is key because cheer is a mental game.”
Being a male cheerleader for NKU’s cheer team has plenty of benefits, but to Stone, the biggest benefit is the memories and friendships you make along the way.
“Cheerleading has been such a positive influence to me in a multitude in many ways,” Stone said. “During this journey, I’ve made the best of friendships, met the greatest mentors, all while having the opportunity to represent a phenomenal university. I’m forever indebted to everything the NKU cheerleading program has done to benefit me as an athlete and as a person.”