Students break gender barrier in sports

Cecilia Carrero, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Football and cheerleading have always had a certain gender tied to them. This year, sophomore Nesyrion Alawode and junior Angely Valentin, have both changed the way people look at sports and who can play. 

Alawode has participated in other activities in the school but this is his first year cheering. 

“I was looking at stuff I could do besides acting and my friends were cheerleaders,” Alawode said.

 They encouraged him to try out, despite his uncertainty of the rules, but he was able to and eventually score a spot on the Junior Varsity(JV) cheerleading squad. Who Alowade is cheering for has a unique storyline too. High school football is a tough sport compared to high school cheerleading. For a girl to join the team is a big deal. 

I would not recommend football to other girls unless they were mentally and physically prepared for the work that actually goes into football. I would also not recommend this to girls who aren’t ready to get hurt because it is inevitable,” said Valentin.

When joining the football there was some discrimination against Valentin, but that only motivated her. With common controversy around who can play which sport and who can’t, Alawode and violation have broken those barriers and found their own path.

“Tackle football has traditionally been a boy’s sport, but that’s starting to change,” said the National Football League (NFL), Football Operations department in 2020. “…states saw an increase in the percentage of girls who play high school tackle football in 2018 compared to a decade ago,” they said. 

To most, cheerleading is perceived as an= easy sport. Some don’t consider it a sport at all. But it is more than just standing on the sidelines at football and basketball games. This sport also teaches its athletes life skills. 

“I learned more discipline and how to be more responsible with remembering stuff, and it has also helped me realize that it’s definitely not for the weak so it helped me grow stronger,” said Alawode. 

Most high school sports are not just about the sport. Athletes represent the school so the coaches reference that being part of a team is about more than the successes and failures of the team, but also about their future. Just like cheerleading the football coaches emphasize values because football is the biggest sport in the school. 

“[It] has taught me more about discipline than anything else has. It has prepared me mentally for a lot and has made me tougher as a person,” said Valentin.

Whether other athletes follow in their footsteps is to be determined, but these two athletes have paved the way for future athletes to come.

Alawode gets in uniform just in time for the last JV game.
Photo submitted by Alawode.
Valentin is unfortunately unable to continue her season due to an injury.
Photo submitted by Valentin.