Never one to simply follow the crowd, Chandler took a bold step last fall when he decided to become a basketball cheerleader. He’s a member of the JV squad this season, owing to his inexperience.
Q: How did you decide you wanted to be a cheerleader?
A: I was talking to a friend of mine who was a cheerleader and I remember thinking how fun it would be and how cool it would be to be one of the few guys to be a cheerleader. What a cool experience.
Q: What was your family’s reaction?
A: I never told them until literally the day before cheerleading started. I came home and announced “I’m on the cheerleading team.” They were like, “When did this happen?” But they’ve come out and watched me and they’ve supported me in doing this.”
Q: Any backlash or criticism from other students?
A: I haven’t run into very much. I’ve only been told a few things, but people and the teachers at the school have been very supportive. People ask me if I’m gay and I say, “Nope. I just joined cheerleading.”
Q: It takes a lot of confidence to do something so far outside the mainstream. Where does that come from?
A: I have amazing friends. They’ve always treated me like I can do anything I want to do. They don’t judge me at all.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise?
A: One of the hardest things about cheerleading is how together you have to be on every stunt. Everything has to be timed perfectly. I found that out with some of the more advanced stuff. It’s a lot tougher than it looks.
Q: Are you going cheer next year?
A: I’ve made cheerleading my priority. I’m told if I stick with it, I can make the jump to varsity next year. I’m very proud to be a part of cheerleading. It’s cool to be one of the few boys to do it. I, 100 percent, have no regrets.