Mizzou Tigers

More male cheerleaders seen on sidelines

Male cheerleaders growing in popularity

COLUMBIA, Mo. - More male cheerleaders are on the sidelines of football and basketball games.

Danny Heartwell is one of eight on the Mizzou sidelines.

"It is just a surreal, amazing feeling," Heartwell said.

His cheer career started out as a challenge from a friend on his high school squad, but once he tried it, Heartwell was hooked by the challenge of the sport.

"I was actually a runner and wrestler all through out high school and played baseball."

One obstacle Danny didn't have to overcome is the stigma attached with being a male cheerleader.

He was the first and only male cheerleader on his high school squad, and now with more guys in the sport, the more accepted guys are becoming on the mat.

"The guys are looking at it differently, this isn't a girly sport anymore because they see the routines they do and it requires muscle," said Heartwell.

In Jefferson City, Capitol City Cheer has one boy on their competitive team and in Chicago, one all star gym has 16 guys on their high school team, 40 in the gym total.

The gym owner  in Chicago echoed heartwell's message; cheerleading isn't just "rah rah" and poms poms, guys on the team play an important role is making the team better.

"It's actually what I live for, competing is just - you put everything out there and you know how hard you worked for and it's self satisfying knowing you did your best and you put so much effort into it and this amazing outcome just happened."

Right now the team is preparing for college nationals in Daytona Florida this April practicing at least three times a week. 

In the last four years the team's placed in the top 10.

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