It started out as a joke, but the more he thought about it, the more serious he felt about doing it.
Offseason football practices hadn’t started yet, and Benjamin Gannon, a senior offensive and defensive lineman at Richmond High School, had time. He grabbed a friend to support him and took off.
What did Gannon do, exactly? He joined the cheerleading team. His friend eventually quit, but Gannon didn’t.
“I stuck with it, and it was fun. Something different,” Gannon said.
Gannon has been playing football since his junior year of high school, and during the offseason of his sophomore year, he decided to do something different to stay fit for football. In doing so, his perception of cheerleading changed.
“The cheerleader is [definitely] a sport,” Gannon said. “I had to follow them, and I couldn’t. It’s hard but it’s fun.
Gannon spent most of his time as a cheerleader – shouting chants into a megaphone to energize the crowd – but on occasion he served as the backbone – one of the people who supports the cheerleaders during acrobatics – for some of the more complicated routines.
Along with the sporting benefits, Gannon learned valuable interpersonal skills as a member of the team. “They do this unity circle where they come together and talk about what’s going on,” he said. “So it gave me more team spirit.”
Although cheerleading is often seen as easy or soft, that’s not how Gannon would be described. According to his coaches, he is one of the toughest linemen on the field.
Although cheerleading has been a valuable experience, the grill is where Gannon feels he truly belongs.
“I love football,” Gannon said. “It didn’t strike me how much I loved him until the end of my second year, when I transferred to college. I have to show that I’m tough and I don’t have afraid of these guys.
This year, Gannon has big goals he wants to accomplish before the end of the season.
“I want to get All-League again. I want to get more rewards, as much as possible,” he said. “I would like to get an athletics scholarship, but the coaches tell me that I am too small. But if I ever get my chance, I’ll prove them wrong.
Despite the odds against him, Gannon puts his all into football, and his reason for doing so is simple: he has the support of his coaches and family, encouraging him to stay the course and keep going. to improve.
“When you’re told you’re good at something, you want to keep doing it,” he said.
Gannon wants to go to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Davis, San Jose State, or the University of Hawaii. Gannon says his coaches have played a vital role in his campaign to get into college: they make sure their players keep their grades high enough to be competitive.
Now that football season has begun, Gannon has traded in his cheerleading uniform for a football jersey, but he credits the two for molding him into the person he is today. Cheer gave him friends – especially the female variety – and confidence. Football gave him a goal, Gannon said.
“Football changed my life a lot. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or how I was going to get there until football. I rarely watched football,” Gannon said. And here I am now.