Cheerleaders in pants ?

This year on the Towson University cheerleading team, there is something a little different. You may notice two masculine voices cheering on the Tigers.

Towson’s cheerleading team can always be spotted on the sidelines. Captains Lexi Weir and Athena Kominos have high goals for this years team.

“Whether it is at a football, basketball game, or another school event, we always give great energy and strong spirit leading the crowd,” Lexie Weir

This year, sophomores Tim Flaherty and Ben Rosenthal decided to join, making Towson cheerleading a coed team.

“Cheering at Towson has given me a whole new outlook on cheerleading; I’ve seen a whole new side of it just by learning different skills and seeing so much talent,” Tim Flaherty said.

In the past two years, Towson Cheerleading has grown in different aspects. Last year the girls faced extreme difficulties when faced with the amount of injuries during the season and the loss of their coach. This made competing at nationals and keeping a team together seem impossible.

“No one said it was going to be easy, but we knew what we wanted, and we wanted Towson Cheerleading to be known and successful,” Lexie Weir said.

The girls chased their dream after finding Towson’s new head cheerleading coach, Edy Pratt, and assistant coach Nick Santolla. Together, they helped the team accomplish their goal: to compete in NCA nationals and make it to the second day of finals. Towson ended up finishing in fourth place. Since this has never been done in Towson history, the success and pride had the girls preparing for the next year.

Both coaches were extremely excited to start their new co-ed team after Tim and Ben showed up to tryouts in the beginning of May. Coed cheerleading opens more opportunities for different stunts due to the amount of strength the men provide for the team. It allows the team to achieve new things they have never accomplished before.

“As a male cheerleading coach I was thrilled with the prospect of having a coed team,” Nick Santolla said.

Both men have experienced activities related to cheerleading. “Ben has been in martial arts, which really helped him in his tumbling skills. Tim cheered in high school giving him experience, as well as an advantage in stunting, “ Nick Santolla said.

“Both boys have so much to learn, but they learn so fast! It impresses me how badly they want to learn new skills, and the motivational vibe behind it that they give off to the team,” Lexie Weir said

“The girl’s reactions to the new members of their team were welcoming and supportive. Many of the girls have never cheered with males on their team before, so they were excited they were able to experience a coed team for once.” Tim said.

“There is no judging or stereotyping, they treat me just like they treat every other member of the team,” Ben Rosenthal said.

The girls explained that the boys really give a positive attitude to the team. They are motivational and are always ready to try anything, no matter how difficult it may be. They don’t complain about the small stuff, and have the work ethic of getting things accomplished. It keeps the competition up between the girls.

Sophomore Sharnita Brice said, “A positive attitude is contagious, and that’s what the boys have, it spreads to get the whole teams support.”

“With 23 girls on the team and 2 boys there is a tough competition everyday for the 20 spots on the competition floor.  The coaches are still unsure if the team will be competing coed or all-girl. No spot is guaranteed, right now the boys have and equal shot as the girls. Everyday these athletes work harder and harder to fight for their spot to make the competition team, “ Edy Pratt said.

“The boys don’t have a guaranteed spot, but we all know that the coaches expect more from us girls,” Sharnita Brice said.

“These girls live for this; they work so hard and they really don’t get enough credit,” Tim Flaherty said.

“The boys have started something great for this program, and the team is welcoming any new boys wanting to tryout. We hope that Towson cheerleading keeps this new trend, and can continue even after Tim and Ben graduate and hope to bring in more male cheerleaders,” Edy Pratt said.

“It is nice knowing that I may be starting a long trend of male cheerleaders here at Towson,” Tim Flaherty said.


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