Elias Sifford is making history at Nestucca High School.
On Aug. 31, when the Bobcat football team takes on Toledo High School in Cloverdale, Sifford will make his debut with the Nestucca cheer team. He becomes the first male to ever cheer for the Bobcats.
Sifford is going into his junior year at Nestucca and said the thought of joining the cheer squad never even crossed his mind until his freshmen year of high school during a school volleyball game.
“I would always do a little jump or cheer to get my class pumped up and then afterwards one of the senior cheerleaders came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you should join the cheer team,’” Sifford said. “My friends always told me that I was good at lifting people’s spirits and making them all pumped up.”
Despite the support of many of his fellow classmates, Sifford admits he questioned whether he should try out or not.
“Ever since I was told I should join I’d ask myself, would it be a good idea for me to do it?” Sifford said. “There’s never been a male cheerleader here so I was nervous and I didn’t even know if I’d be any good at it.”
During her tenure as Nestucca’s cheer coach, Renay Barham has never had a male tryout for her team. However, she was quite pleased to see Sifford come out for the team this year.
“Elias had more enthusiasm than anyone trying out,” Barham said. “You could tell he wanted it more than any of the others and that temperament shows in everything that he does. He has such great school spirit and a real genuine personality.”
Sifford will serve as the back base on the team, where he said he makes sure everything is stable and together during cheers and stunts. Barham is also excited to have Sifford’s voice presence during their cheers this year.
“When we are doing the cheers and the dances I’m the one who’s going to be the loudest since I have the deep voice and Renay wants me to be extra loud,” Sifford said. “She even wants to designate one of the megaphones to me, which should be interesting.”
At many schools across the state, it is not uncommon to see male cheerleaders at the high school level. Which makes many wonder, why has there not been any at Nestucca?
“Personally I think Nestucca hasn’t had one because the men don’t really want to hang out with the women very much, they want to hangout with their buddies and play baseball or whatever,” Sifford said. “But I wanted to be different.”
Sifford has received a lot of support from friends and the school as he looks to cheer alongside his teammates. However, Barham knows that probably will not be the case for everyone.
“There’s always going to be haters out there, even adults who come to watch games could say something or have thoughts about it,” Barham said.
Sifford said he already has had a few people question his decision to join the team, but ultimately decided it was what he wanted to do.
“There have been a few people that have said things like, ‘Oh I don’t know about cheer, maybe you should just play football instead,’” Sifford said. “But I didn’t really like football and I never liked the thought of hurting people. I always liked wrestling but I was afraid I’d hurt someone, so I felt like I was holding myself back.”
With the backing of his coach and teammates, Sifford is excited for the upcoming year and hopes to see more males try out for cheer in the future.
“Generally the guys are stronger and they are taller and can hold others up higher for everyone to see,” Sifford said. “I think the whole team would be better if we had more of a mix of males and females.”
Barham is also looking forward to the year and is happy with what Sifford brings to their team.
“He produces a great level of encouragement to everyone and is a great teammate,” Barham said. “He’s a part of our team so he’s got our full support.”