Sophomore Sreyas Kadiyala’s journey with cheer


Courtesy LAHS Cheer Team

Sreyas stands as a flyer at a football game.

Cheerleading is a notoriously demanding sport. Having to flip, twirl and pull off carefully choreographed stunts all while making it appear effortless requires hours of dedication and practice — in other words, it’s far from something that’s easy to walk into.

In the 2021 fall season, now sophomore Sreyas Kadiyala decided to give cheer a shot. He admitted the journey was a bit haphazard, especially not knowing what to expect going in.
“My dad didn’t let me do football, so I was like — what’s the exact opposite?” Sreyas said. “And that’s how I arrived at cheer.”

Despite being completely new to the team, Sreyas was relatively unfazed by the transition. Sure, getting up at 6 in the morning for 7 a.m. practices and having little natural flexibility weren’t easy to adjust to. But even standing out as the only boy to join the team that year wasn’t a challenge he credited as being difficult.

“I can be friends with anybody, so that didn’t really affect me,” Sreyas said. “It was more that [my teammates] knew what they were doing and I didn’t, that made me nervous.”
What wasn’t so easy was his position. Typically, male cheerleaders have roles in the foundation of stunts, as they’re better able to provide support to from below.

However, because of his smaller stature, Sreyas was appointed to be a flyer — a position in which you’re literally tossed up in the air by your teammates.

‘’It was my first time for all of this, so it was kind of scary,” Sreyas said. “I was really bad, but I enjoyed it.”

While he gained a tightly-knit community within the team, being the standout boy in a female-dominated sport subjected him to tired tropes about appearing “gay.” Even those who he considered friends piled on with the insensitive remarks.

“If you look at colleges, you’ll see lots of guys on the cheer teams, but in high school it’s just so stereotypical [for girls to be in cheer],” Sreyas said. “I wasn’t really fazed by the jokes, but the idea that it’s even okay to make them is what pissed me off. I think it’s a problem that happens a lot if someone doesn’t do something that’s ‘straight’.”

As the season progressed, though, he began to find his niche. He jokingly recalled being known as “the guy in the wolf mask” from a Halloween performance during homecoming and nearly mastered the backflip — a far cry from the skillset he began with.

“I won most improved, which isn’t saying anything,” he said with a laugh. “I was really bad, and just became bad.”

Sreyas has since gone on to pursue his passion for distance running, but he doesn’t hesitate to recommend giving the sport a try. Through it all, the friends he made and the exhilaration of performances made the decision all the more worth it.

“Go ahead — try it. Worst case scenario, you don’t make the team, and in the best case, you find something you love,” he said.