Rough and tumble

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 12:38 PM.

Of course, the girl cheerleaders had an ulterior motive for wanting a boy on the team, especially a strong one, with patience and an outgoing personality.

“The reason is they can do more stunts. They’ve got the strength; they can throw their flyers higher,” said Jamie Rohrer, an assistant director at the Florida High School Athletic Association who has overseen the implementation of competitive cheerleading in the state ever since it started a decade ago.

The FHSAA doesn’t govern sideline cheerleading, such as Franklin County has, which is considered an extracurricular activity. But the sport that it does govern, the competitive variety, now boasts of anywhere from 300 to 500 male cheerleaders from about 250 schools, about three times as many as took part in the first state championship in 2007.

“It’s grown pretty quickly,” said Rohrer. “We’re the largest state in the nation for competitive cheerleading.”

She said the coed division is one of the largest divisions at the state level, with 40-50 teams. “You’re looking at half the teams in Florida have male cheerleaders,” she said.

While male cheerleaders are uncommon in rural North Florida, there are plenty of boys taking part at high schools in central and south Florida .

“Some recruit football players and wrestlers just to enhance their stunts. A lot of males are tumblers too,” Rohrer said.

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