Story by Stephen Wise, Photo by Goflashwin
When you picture your typical high school cheerleader, chances are that sophomore Josh Schoolmeester doesn’t quite fit that description. Josh is now in his third year in the Dutch Fork Cheerleading program and his first on the Varsity team.
There’s a reason that Josh is on the team, and his teammates praise his ability to execute the roles that cheerleaders need to master in order to compete on Saturdays or cheer at games.
“Josh does a lot for the team, he’s an amazing tumbler,” junior Lindsey Kirtley said, “He’s really good at setting and he really brings a lot to the team.”
As the only male cheerleader in program history, Josh has faced some adversity in the past. When people are too used to an all-female team, they may not be accepting of change.
“They have, just people in general, will say rude things to me, like names that should not be said,” Josh said.
When one member is not quite like the rest of the team, they will have a different perspective on team dealings. His teammates say that Josh helps a lot when it comes to easing some of the tensions that may come up as the season goes on.
“I love having Josh on the team because like with all the girl drama that can sometimes happen being an all girl team,” freshman Gracie Dawalt said, “Josh kind of evens it out and mellows it. He brings a good personality to the team.”
In any sport, team chemistry is vital to success. Even though he is in his first year on the team and a guy, his team has embraced him and they enjoy what he brings to the program.
“He doesn’t really feel so much like another guy out there,” said Lindsey Kirtley, “He’s like a brother to us we have gotten such a close bond to him like it’s fun having on the team.”
Senior Ally Nielsen agreed, saying that Josh helps bring the team together. That is incredibly high praise for someone who is in their first year with the team.
“He is probably the core of the team, he is awesome,”Ally said, “If I was in his shoes I could not deal with us like he does with the amount of drama we have and he just stands there and smiles.”
Josh was encouraged to tryout for cheerleading in middle school, and has not looked back since. That decision has seemed to work out well, as he is on the varsity team as a sophomore.
“I did a project for my English teacher in seventh grade and she was a varsity mom and she was telling me to tryout and I ended up doing it,” Josh said.
No matter who you are, the expectations are the same as a member of the Dutch Fork varsity cheerleading team. Josh says that even though he is a guy, the standards remain the same.
“The only thing different is the clothes I wear but I have the same standards. If I have to throw a tumbling pass I have to throw a tumbling pass,” Josh said, “I don’t have any leeway because I’m a guy.”
Although there are challenges along the way, Josh thoroughly enjoys the experience that goes along with cheering for a state championship cheerleading team.
“It feels good,” Josh said, “It’s definitely different but it’s a good feeling”