The LA Rams are about to have some company.
Last year, the LA Rams and the New Orleans Saints made made headlines for breaking gender norms. First, the Rams announced the arrival of two male cheerleaders. Then, the Saints debuted their first male cheerleader. Afterward, the Rams went to the Super Bowl and so did their pioneering cheer team. But now, it looks like the New England Patriots are on their tail.
NBC Boston reports that two male dancers have joined the cheerleading team for the first time in decades.
“Walking (into tryouts), I knew people were going to look at me — one, because I am over 6 feet tall, and two, because I am a male,” said 23-year-old Driss Dallahi of Londonderry, New Hampshire to NBC Boston.
But once he made it to the workshop phase, Dallahi realized that he wasn’t alone.
“I attended that workshop and walked in and heard there was another boy, and so I was immediately looking around trying to find him,” said 22-year-old Steven Sonntag of Colchester, Vermont.
From that point on, both men worked together through the rest of the audition process. They coordinated colors and clothing styles so that they wouldn’t stick out in the wrong way.
“We didn’t really know the criteria for male cheerleaders auditioning for the New England Patriots, so we kind of created that together in texting back and forth,” said Sonntag.
Now, both men have made the official team and have become the first male cheerleaders on the Partriots’ cheer squad since the 1980s.
As for why they decided to audition, they both expressed the influence of the LA Rams’ team.
“At least in my lifetime, it was the first time I had seen two men do something like that,” said Dallahi.
Now, Dallahi and Sonntag hope to add to that representation and change cheerleading and the NFL.
“Two genders on the squad is a big step for any team in the NFL, because that’s not what people are used to seeing sidelines, so I encourage it to progress even more across the NFL board,” said Sonntag.
h/t: NBC Boston