The First Boy in HBHS Cheer History


Matthew Klotz ‘22 effortlessly practices a classic cheer stunt, a backflip. He has spent four years working hard and improving his craft. He is now one of three captains of the Varsity Cheer team. “Starting off was really difficult because I had to find my footing and I wasn’t particularly good at the sport at first,” said Klotz.

Emma Harley, Staff Writer

Matthew Klotz ‘22 has been a member of the HBHS Cheerleading team since freshman year, participating in both the fall and winter seasons. He has earned the title of captain, as well as an equally impressive title: the only HBHS male cheerleader.  

Klotz, a senior at Hollis Brookline Highschool, started cheerleading after previously doing gymnastics. Although he has remained dedicated and passionate about the sport, it was never easy. “I’ve faced a lot of challenges, especially when I started. A lot of people thought that it was very weird that I did cheer and it was a whole new environment, one that the school has never seen before. I was the first guy cheerleader ever in our school’s history,” said Klotz. Interestingly enough, cheer was once a male dominated sport, until World War II when women filled in the roles of men who left to fight. According to USA Cheer, 85% of all cheerleaders are now female. 

Many stereotypes surrounding female-dominated sports can create a challenging environment for male team members. A lot of people only see the sport for what we do on the sidelines, in football games and basketball games and that is a very small portion of what we do, and it’s not the most interesting part of what we do,” said Klotz, “they also only see one guy on the team.” Lillian Sullivan ‘22, one of Klotz’s fellow cheer captains, finds that the gender-norms of cheer stops male students from becoming interested. “I think that cheerleading is a female dominated sport at HB because there just isn’t much interest in it in our community from boys. In the past the team has even had issues getting enough girls to try out for the team, so getting boys is even tougher. Sure it would be great to have more boys be interested in the sport at HB, but we are happy to have the team that we do right now,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan also recognizes expectations for boys in cheerleading that adds even more challenges. “Being a male cheerleader could definitely be challenging, to me it seems like boys in the cheerleading community are often just expected to be able to do crazy stunts, such as one mans, where Klotz would be the only one holding a flyer up in the air. Girls don’t typically even try that stunt,” said Lilli. Girls are battered with unrealistic expectations as cheerleaders as well, but unlike the rest of the team, Klotz must face these challenges solo. While they acknowledged the room for improvement, both captains expressed so much gratitude for the team they have. “I feel like this is a really good team and I have high hopes for us this season,” said Klotz.

A study done at the University of East Anglia, by Dr. Pressland, researched the potential in co-ed sports and showed that boys who participate in feminized sports can positively influence ideas surrounding gender. Specifically, cheer can create a bond within a team and nurture mutual respect between sexes. “With many sports the focus often ends up being on who is the fastest or strongest. Cheerleading is a very physical, and potentially dangerous, activity where skill is just as important as strength. We found that because of the specific safety issues, people rallied round and were very protective of each other, which you don’t find in other sports… For the boys, the team was of most importance, more than the masculinity,” said Dr. Pressland. Klotz is living proof of how quickly bonds can form when thrown into a team. “I definitely think that I’ve grown a lot, I’ve been put into this family of cheerleading and I don’t know where I’d be without them. It’s been pretty much all my life has been for the past few years,” said Klotz.

The HB cheer team has been very successful and has created an environment for Klotz and other team members to become close friends while still working hard. “I do hope that one day there is another guy that decides to do cheerleading. It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t there to witness that and help guide him,” said Klotz. 

To cheer on Klotz along with the rest of the HB cheer team, attend their state meet at Pinkerton on March 10th.