The Vandalia Leader

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Athlete of the Week

Posted on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 6:41 pm

Jackson Fischer, sophomore

By Brandie Gay

Every cheerleader gets fired up when someone sparks the “Is cheerleading a sport?” debate. Whether it’s a football player in one of your classes, a teacher who talks down about cheerleading, or a friend who doesn’t understand why you’re not involved in something else “more athletic,” you want people to know that cheerleaders are athletes.

History shows that cheerleading was never female-dominated in its initial years. Cheerleading began with males and was the acceptable norm back then, contrary to the popular belief and current stereotypes regarding the sport. Van-Far is helping break the stereotypes by adding guys to the squad.

This year, Jackson Fischer joined the cheer squad for the basketball season. In the 18 years of coaching cheerleading, Angela has only had two other guys try out—Dominic Ramirez and Parker Hull. Every year the cheerleaders do a courtwarming routine and invite high school guys to participate with the cheerleaders. The guys learn a dance and stunt.

Angela said she always tells the guys that tryouts are in April. She noted that Jackson asked her after his performance when tryouts were again, and right before tryouts, she had the squad remind him when tryouts were.

Angela said that when she saw him walk through the door she was so excited. He basically wanted to yell and throw girls, and she said, she could work with that. It isn’t a cakewalk for most men to enter the field of cheerleading. There isn’t anything related to athletics that male cheerleaders cannot achieve. The co-ed varsity cheerleading teams have male and female cheerleaders performing together, and they put up the best show you can ever see.

There is more to cheerleading then yelling and clapping hands. A great attitude and encouraging the squad, the team and the crowd, is what Jackson does best, according to Angela.

“What’s not to love,” she said. “He has an awesome work ethic and a big booming voice. Jackson is a huge asset to the team, and has so much power and strength. The basket tosses have literally been taken to new heights. Jackson along with his flyer, Faith Griffith, learned the toss up one man’s that he presses to extension. This stunt is college coed type of stunting and Van-Far has never been able to accomplish this stunt until now.

“Having Jackson on the squad pushes the ladies harder when it comes to our stunting and cheering,” Angela said, adding, “we all want him to be proud to be a part of the team. The ladies are excited and love having Jackson on the team. We could see the potential he has plus he has a great personality, which makes practices fun.”

Even having guys on the team, Angela said, her coaching style doesn’t change, but she does find herself apologizing to Jackson frequently because the ladies on the team can get a bit wild at times.

“Cheerleading is a great sport because its teamwork, it’s all about athletes working together in unison to create something spectacular,” she said.

This year Jackson was also awarded District Offensive Lineman and also First Team All-Conference Offensive Lineman. Jackson also participates in FFA, track and baseball.