Cheering on Jose


Photo courtesy of Jose Gandara

Savanna Kerr, Staff Reporter

This Spring we are happy to announce that Shorewood has accepted both male and female cheerleaders. One of our juniors, Jose Luis-Gandara took his chances and worked hard to achieve his goals at tryouts before spring break. Throughout this interview he expresses the pros and cons of trying out for cheer behind the scenes of a high school boy’s perspective.

What motivated you to join cheer?

“As I’ve been a student here at Shorewood, I feel like I’ve always been a cheerleader. I love going to events, cheering people on, and getting others to join in to create a fun and inclusive environment. When the opportunity opened up, I just knew that it was only natural that I take it.”

How did you feel being one of only a few boys at tryouts?

“Initially, I felt pretty out-of-place—not really because I was a guy, but because so many of these girls had experience as dancers and gymnasts and here I was, one of the most uncoordinated and inflexible people in the school. However, Ms. Sturm was very encouraging and really expressed her desire to not let anything stand in the way of me putting my best self forward in the tryout process. A few times she suggested small changes to the choreography as I learned it—like toning down some of the hip work and somewhat “feminine” features—but honestly, I’m not afraid to swivel my butt a little or come across as a little less manly during my performances over the next year. It really doesn’t matter whether or not a guy acts “manly” or not; I am who I am, and I’m going to be unashamedly myself, no matter who is watching. I don’t care about acting like a man—I care about acting like Jose, and being authentic to who I am.”

I feel like I’ve always been a cheerleader,”

— Jose Gandara, junior

Did the girls treat you differently? Did you feel out of place?

“The girls really didn’t treat me any different than they would to anyone else. The most out of place I felt was when I finally made the team and was at a team dinner—and it was only because all the girls had been given ribbons to put in their hair, and I guess that wasn’t the best look for me.”

Did trying out for cheer have anything to do with you losing the ASB election?

“I’ve always been really interested in trying out for cheer, but losing the ASB election certainly did play a part in my decision to try out because I now had my 2nd period open to take cheer instead of Leadership class. On a more personal note, the ASB election really did reveal quite a bit about the nature of Leadership and some of the people within it. The lies and rumors that were intentionally spread by people about me breaking campaign rules—which were proven false every time—and how I was treated convinced me that I wasn’t wanted or welcome within the ASB establishment any longer. It hurts when you hear some of your best friends lying about you. I love serving my school, and I still believe in everything I campaigned for—but I didn’t want to put myself back in that environment for my last year in high school. Instead, I want to continue to pursue what I am passionate about—supporting my school—while also taking care of myself.”

What are you most looking forward to being on the Cheer team?“

As of for what this next year will bring, I am most excited to just be able to work to not only support our athletes but create an even greater sense of community and spirit at our school. Shorewood has the capacity to be one of the most spirited and energetic schools in Wesco—we just need to bring it out. I’m so pumped to see what great things are in store for our school and how we will work to create a lasting legacy of T-Bird Pride at our school.”