Broad Run Cheer Makes History on and off the Mat

A zoom in on some of the Broad Run's Cheerleaders District champions

Alexandra Figueroa and Lyndsay Goodwin

Broad Run cheer keeps coming out to the mat fierce and ready to compete.

This year in BR cheer, three male cheerleaders made the team: Alex Birchmeier, David Pellegrini, and Ian Friedenberg. This is the first time in 50 years that Broad Run have ever had male cheerleaders on BR competition cheer. Friedenberg and Birchmeier stunt, while Pellegrini tumbles.

Pellegrini is a Freshman at Broad Run. As well as cheering for his high school, he does competition cheer at Maryland Twisters gym on a coed team Reign. Pellegrini has been doing cheer for three years.

Despite the hardships Pellegrini has encounter being a male cheerleader, he persits doing what he loves.

“I do get made fun of a lot or called gay by many of my classmates. This has never had an effect on me. I have so much fun doing what I love,” said Pellegrini. “… One of my biggest motivations is all my friends that do support me no matter what.”

Pellegrini really loves being part of the Broad Run Cheer Team with two other guys.

  “… It’s really good that I have people to talk to and it shows that any guy can be a cheerleader,” he said.

Pellegrini strives to win states for Broad Run this school year, as well as to place top three at Worlds, a national championship of the best cheerleaders in the world, for Reign.

Friedenberg is a senior at Broad Run. He decided to join the cheerleader team in his last year of high school because it seemed fun. Also as a fan of showing school spirit, cheerleading was a great way to accommodate spirit with a sport. As one of the first guys in the cheerleading team, he had first hand experience in how people responded to his decision. Unlike Pellegrini, Friedenberg has been filled with support and encouragement. He hopes that guys in the future would be more willing to step out of their comfort zone, like he did. He hopes more guys join the cheerleading team in the future.

Similarly to Pellegrini, Friedenberg enjoys being part of it and is glad he joined the team. He’s met a lot of people he doesn’t know if he would have met them otherwise, and he thinks that’s really cool.

He also mentioned how cheerleading training is time consuming and challenging. They started training back in June, practicing throughout the whole summer.

“Six days a week for three hours at a time. Sometimes we had two at a day, which was six hours with one hour break. It’s a lot of conditioning. Lots of running, and push ups.”

Pellegrini was not the only Freshman to make varsity cheer. Brooke Bowman, Camryn Alvarez, Jameson McKay, and Alison Smallwood all made Varsity as freshman.

Their dedication every day to be the best got them here. Smallwood and McKay are on one of the best competition teams in the world, called F5.

However, their success didn’t come without challenges.

The struggle of time management is something that most student athletes can relate to. Managing two different cheer teams, school work, and a social life can be very difficult.

“Managing Broad Run and F5 is definitely something that I strive my hardest to do. I have practice every day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday I have BR practice. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday I have F5 practice. My schedule is crazy busy,” said Smallwood.

“I just try to get my homework done as soon as possible, most of the time I do my homework on the car rides to and from practice.”

Just as it’s a challenge now to balance cheer and school, there were many obstacles Smallwood had to face and many sacrifices she had to make to reach her goal of becoming part of F5.

I just knew what I had to do to make it on my dream team, F5. I’ve had to sacrifice not going to that party, giving time up with my family, driving 2+ hours to my gym and so much more.”

And even great athletes have doubts.

“There have been so many times when I wanted to give up and I thought I couldn’t keep going, but something inside of me keeps pushing me every day. If I had given up I wouldn’t be where I am today. Even with all of these sacrifices, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. This was and is my dream!”

Broad Run cheerleading has many goals for their team this year. They of course already accomplished one and that was to place top-five to move on to Regionals. Not only did they make it to Regionals, they also placed first in Districts, which was a tremendous accomplishment for this BR cheer team.

“We have a long road ahead of us as we try to make it to states. Although we got first place we still have much to improve on. We could be so much sharper and tighter in our cheer, and we need to continue to perfect our skills. Our tumbling in Districts was amazing, everyone was on time and stuck their landings. We also have a few changes for the next competition to make us stand out that much more,” said Smallwood.  

As much as Ali Smallwood hates to admit it, she has many superstitions before going out on the mat. As well as BR cheer.

“One thing I do is I eat a whole bag of airhead extremes…. Yes I know not the best before a competition but after I just feel much more prepared and ready to compete. One thing our whole team does together is our coach puts one song on before every competition for us to listen to, we all close our eyes in the dark and we just get into our zones and listen to the words of the song. Finally we get in a circle and just pray. Then we are ready to get out on the mat and compete.”