The truth about being a male in a female dominated sport


Villalpando and Purdy have had different experiences being on female dominated sports but they both agree that their gender helps them stand out. Photo by: Rachel Gonzalez

Rachel Gonzalez

Through the eyes of two VHS student

Cheerleading and dance are female dominated sports, this is no different for Ventura High School. Senior Preston Purdy and junior Dominic Villalpando are two students who actively fight gender norms by participating in these female dominated sports.

This is Villalpando’s second year on the VHS hip-hop team. Although he has been a dancer for 5 years.  Finding the right dance program for him took trial and error. Villalpando said, “A lot of the dance studio’s weren’t fitting for me and then I found this program at the school.” 

Purdy recently joined cheer for his senior year after wanting to join the team for years. He wrote, “I joined the cheer team because I’ve always wanted to be a part of a ‘sports’ team and to also do something that isn’t so common at our high school (being a guy on a cheer team). I wanted to show people that you shouldn’t be afraid to do something, just because it’s different/not a part of our economic standards. I wanted to be a big influence to anyone who needed to see a boy, who is also a part of the LGBT community, on cheer.”

Villalpando enjoy’s the spotlight he said, “Because there’s a lot less guys, I stand out more.” When asked if he’s had any negative experiences because of this he said, “Surprisingly no actually.” He continued, “I haven’t personally experienced negative feedback.” 

At VHS dance is a P.E. credit. In Villalpando’s eyes dance is 100% a sport. Photo By: @vhsdance on instagram

Purdy has had a different experience. He wrote, “There were some people who were completely shocked and judge me that there was another boy that joined the cheer team (who is gay). The guy who was originally on the team, was more masculine than I am so it was a little shocking to the Ventura community. When we would do our performances, I gave it my all, just like the other girls did. […] There were some guys who would make fun and laugh, but I knew that there were so many people behind me with love and support for what I was doing.” 

Purdy wrote, ” I do believe that cheerleading is a sport, but then there are moments where it’s more of a ‘club’. For cheerleading to technically be a ‘sport’ it would have to be competitive cheerleading. But, I still give all the girls credit for doing cheerleading, it is a very different type of sport that uses different types of muscles and body necessities; For when we stunt or tumble on the hard floor/grass.” Photo from: @vhs_cougarcheer

He said, “Honestly, I did have some moments where I just wanted to quit completely, because of all the stress and anxiety I had while being on the cheer team. It was really hard because I really loved cheer, and to go to the games to just be me, and to later get made fun of for it was hard. It was even harder having to be seen as something that’s having to be seen as someone outside of the social norm.  But I pushed past the hate and all the attention and continued to do what I loved, because I was doing it for myself, not anyone else.”

It isn’t all negative though, Purdy said, “My favorite part about being on the team is to be loved and accepted by a whole group of people. I loved the unconditional support by my team, coaches, and friends that went to the games to show their love.”

Villalpando expressed how fun it is to be a part of the hip-hop team. He said, “We do a lot after school practices […] A lot of us have a close bond.”

Villalpando is teaching free dance classes along with other dance program students on Feb. 9, Feb. 16 and Mar. 2. He has helped choreograph the dances that are taught during the open beginner dance classes. He said, “How I get into my choreography is I first go through my playlist. I find some trendy songs depending on the genre I’m choreographing. […] I like to have headphones in, I kind of just move around to see what I can do with it. Then from there, my process for choreographing, I have my music playing, I videotape myself and I freestyle.” Villapando explained, “The whole purpose for recording is so that I don’t forget. I can go back and listen to what lyric [and] what beat it was on and I can go on choreographing.”