Cheer, but for Men!

Senior guys partake in annual man cheer

This+years+Seniors+pose+for+a+group+photo+after+their+performance.+Photo+courtesy+of+Jack+Carmichael.

This year’s Seniors pose for a group photo after their performance. Photo courtesy of Jack Carmichael.

Carolina Zamorano, Reporter

In 2013, an FWCD tradition was born. Man Cheer is exactly what it sounds like. Man. Cheer. Every year, the senior boys perform a cheer routine, choreographed by the varsity cheerleaders, during the Homecoming Pep Rally, and famously, Lower School teachers usher out their students before the show. 

In 2013,  Sydney Wood ‘14 went to then Varsity Cheer Coach Robin Willis with the idea of starting Man Cheer at FWCD. After some brainstorming, they decided to host a routine during the annual Homecoming Pep Rally. 

During the first routine, the senior boys, with the help of Willis and the cheerleaders, played a prank on the coaches and the student body. In the prank, the quarterback pretended to get an injury. The music was stopped as JR Gideon ‘14, fell, laid on the ground, and gripped his ankle. 

“It was funny and we fooled everyone,” Willis said. After the trainers ran over and the coaches became concerned, the music came back on and everyone completed the routine. 

Last year, due to COVID protocols, changes were made, but the show went on. Firstly, following FWCD’s mask policy at the time of the event, everyone was required to wear a mask throughout the routine. Rather than the traditional huddling and group stunts, everyone had a designated spot 6 feet away from each other. Because of this, most of the choreography had to do with various dance moves and jumps. 

Stunts during the first Man Cheer performance in 2013. Photo courtesy of Robin Willis.

In 2013, when the cheerleaders, seniors, and coaches were trying to keep the performance a secret, practices were held after school hours and on weekends. Even the then Athletic Director, Frank Gendusa, had no idea what was going on. He was only made aware that “something” was being planned.

In 2020, rather than the traditional two practices, only one was held the week before the pep rally. The boys learned the entire choreography in one night. 

“It’s hard to get everyone together on the same evening after practices but the whole group came together really well,” Varsity Cheer Coach Tiffany Wallace said. 

After the practice, the cheerleaders sent out videos of the routine so that everyone could review the routine before the Pep Rally.

For the practices for the October 2021 Homecoming pep rally, the group was split into two so the cheerleaders could focus on everyone more individually and clean up some mistakes. One practice was held the week before and the other was held the week of Homecoming 

“Man Cheer was really fun this year … I think we performed the greatest routine of all time,” Henry Brookman ‘22 said.

The Man Cheer outfits are always an interesting, yet essential part of the routine. Traditionally, the senior boys will receive a t-shirt which details ‘Man Cheer’ on the back. Then, they will, either with friends, themselves, or family, cut up, fringe, and then decorate the t-shirt in marker. The first year, the seniors wore the cheer team’s jerseys. 

As for the bottom part of the Man Cheer “uniform,” recently, denim short shorts have reigned supreme. It wasn’t always that though. In the first year, 2013, the boys just wore khaki shorts, excluding the few who wore neon pink athletic short shorts.

At this point, one may wonder: Who are the masterminds behind this whole operation? The answer: the senior cheerleaders. Since 2013, they’ve truly been the stars behind the scenes. They create choreography, order food, and assist during the actual routine. 

“Man cheer has always been my favorite part of pep rallies and I couldn’t wait to do it senior year,” Lily Senter ‘22 said. 

And this year’s routine did not disappoint.

“I was proud of everyone involved and have received many compliments on the Man Cheer as a whole and that praise should go straight to the cheerleaders and Man Cheer participants,” Wallace said.

For students, Man Cheer provides an enthusiastic (and often laughable) experience to look forward to at the annual Homecoming Pep Rally. To many, it’s seen as a rite of passage. It gives something to look forward to in Senior year, especially for those participating.

“I think [Man Cheer] gets everyone really hyped … I’m so excited to help run it senior year,” Alyssa Rollings ‘25 said.