Southampton Uni's one and only male cheerleader reveals all
Can you imagine being the only male cheerleader at your University institution? This year, for the first time, Southampton Vixens opened up tryouts to guys as well as girls. Ben […]
Can you imagine being the only male cheerleader at your University institution? This year, for the first time, Southampton Vixens opened up tryouts to guys as well as girls.
Ben Franklin, a second year Law student, made the cut, subsequently becoming the Uni’s first ever male cheerleader. He reveals all in this Soton Tab exclusive.
We were curious to find out whether Ben had any previous cheerleading experience. It turns out he was a cheer virgin, claiming that he’d only ever seen the sport in bad American TV and films. When asked what prompted him to join the team he joked:
I’ve always been a popular, pretty girl on the inside. A friend of mine who was already on the team knew I wanted to try out and sent me a message saying that [the Vixens] were thinking of going Co-ed and I knew I had to try out.
Racked with nerves during the tryout, he told us that he was taught a few basic skills, such as a prep (basic lift) load in, which he had to perform in a group in front of the coaches.
Having made the team, a male cheerleading kit had to be specifically designed for him in the run up to competitions. Despite a few teething problems with sizing issues, Ben loves the kit and will be wearing it everywhere when the right size is delivered.
We asked Ben what it was like to be the ONLY male Vixen.
It’s great! So many people are so surprised, but I love it – I’m a massive attention seeker (sorry ‘bout it) and I love that I got to be the first.
It also means I got to know everyone on the team really quickly because they all knew who I was, but I honestly still don’t know some girls names because I had so many to learn at once.
With the three Vixen squads comprising of approximately 100 girls, it’s not surprising that he struggled. Ben settled in to the team quickly, but we were eager to find out whether he faced any prejudice along the way.
Luckily not! Most people, being 20ish years old, of typical intelligence and aware that they live in the year 2015, can see beyond gender stereotypes and my sexuality and see that I just love the sport.
I’ve had some guys pull faces and run their mouths but to be honest, I don’t care – I’m loving life and their negativity isn’t welcome in my party.
So what does he love most about Vixens? Ben accredited the team’s spirit and the girls themselves. Having recently won first place with his level 3 co-ed stunt group at ICC Southerns, he noted that his stunt group was everything to him, but he’s also fond of the Game Day and Competition girls.
[Game Day girls] are some of the funniest and most dedicated people I know, and the competition girls have been so wonderful and accommodating and they all make me feel like I’m part of something much bigger than myself.
It’s the first time I’ve been part of any kind of team, and now I know why so many people love team sports. I genuinely love the Vixen girls, in both a fond friendly way and a loyal, protective way.
Of course, being on the Game Day squad as well as Comp squad, Ben cheers for the American Football team alongside the girls. He tells us what it’s like:
It’s cold, wet, long, and incredible. If you get stuck into the game the time passes, you don’t notice the cold and you feel for the team – their wins makes you proud, their losses make you feel for them, and you end up screaming your lungs out on the side of the pitch because you so badly want to see their hard work and training pay off.
We asked Ben to dish the dirt on cheer socials…
These girls could drink most of the lad-iest sports teams under the table. I’ve had an incredible time on every single social. They’re messy and fabulous and the gossip the next day is always incredible.
The social secs pour so much into getting everyone to have a good time. Honestly, they could make a bunch of pensioners feel young and reckless again…but what happens on socials stays on socials I’m afraid.
Training so often with so many girls means that Ben has an insight into girl-world that other guys can only dream of, and he noted that he has definitely become more aware of just how much some guys’ shitty behaviour can upset them.
We asked what Ben would say to any other guys looking to try out next year:
Don’t let stereotypes or stigma hold you back. Remind the haters that stunting is literally weightlifting people, jumps are like extreme squats, tumbling is bloody difficult and the dance is so much fun.
Seriously, lifting the girls above your head dozens of times each session gives you huge arms and broad shoulders. Just get stuck in and get passionate about your sport would be my advice. Just don’t try to come for my position… I’m totally kidding… but seriously.
The Soton Tab wishes Ben all the best with the Vixens and their upcoming competitions.