“Let’s Root for the Boys:” The Reimagining of the NFL Cheerleader

He said the team would have thought about men first – auditions used to be open to anyone – but nothing came of it until last year. Both Jinnies and Peron knew the women were already with the Rams and were encouraged to try. But each was surprised to see the other on the day of the exam, they had competed against each other many times before.

“I walked up to him and I said, ‘Hey, since we only have two guys here, let’s root for the guys.’ our position,” said Peron. “‘If they take us, they will take us. But I don’t think they can choose between one of us.’ ” Turns out that feeling was correct.

“They call my name, and I make this weird sound, like, ‘Aaauuhh,'” Jinnies said. “They give me my shirt, and [I’m] like, ‘I did it,’ and rivers just run down my face.”

The following season ended for the Rams in the Super Bowl, and it became a new year for Jinnies and Peron, who became the first male dancer to play in the NFL’s biggest game. Last year, they traveled with their team, danced, spoke, did volunteer work, even visited soldiers overseas.

When I met the two at the Starbucks across the street from their practice building, they had just returned from military tours in Guam and South Korea. Peron, who is also a dance teacher, said he spent part of his time teaching the children on the foundation in fun ways. “Some of the boys tried,” he added, smiling.

For Peron and Jinnies, getting to that point was a long and, at times, painful road. Peron didn’t discover her passion for dance until her junior year in high school—too late for someone who is now a professional athlete. He credits So You Think Can You Dance for inspiring him: Watching tWitch and Will—black people like him—perform, he knew he wanted to do that. He quit his basketball team on the weekend, angering his father, the teacher, and began attending classes at a local school.

Her parents strongly opposed her pursuit of dance, in ways big and small—scolding her for wearing pants to ballet class, complaining about daily competitions, and refusing to pay dance tuition. As a result, Peron, who was tall and broad-shouldered and often flashed a big, warm smile, attended classes on scholarship, staying for hours to clean the classroom after. his friends at home. It wasn’t until he signed with an agent and started collecting paychecks for his modeling work that his parents came around.

Jinnies parents, on the other hand, moved mountains to afford their son the best dance training. When she started taking dance seriously in high school, her mother would drive two hours from Santa Barbara to Costa Mesa after a full day’s work so Jinnies could attend class. , then they drove home. They did that twice a week, until he saw his high school dream team play. He decided to find out, although he knew that if he did, he would have to live in the school district, in Anaheim, which meant leaving his parents’ house.

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