Flipping over barriers


Dom Nelson

Hammann prepping before a girls basketball game

Dom Nelson

Owatonna High School freshman Zander Hammann has recognized his athletic ability and crazy flexibility for years. He has been well aware of the flips and jumps he is capable of, and he has always intended to put them to use.

Hammann has not only been in gymnastics for several years, but he has recently joined cheerleading for the 2017-2018 season. He decided to join cheerleading due to his inspiration from a fellow cheerleader and close friend, Sky Dube. Dube dragged Hammann to multiple Cheerleading practices, and eventually he learned to like it.

Cheerleading is an activity that is mainly participated in by females, and he is the only male cheerleader in Owatonna. Coach Mara Oien says, “I’m not sure when the last male cheerleader here was. What I can tell you is that there has not been one since I started coaching here in 2007.” He takes pride in this, but that does not mean he has not had some struggles. Hammann said, “Although I get to show off my hard work, dedication and flips, being a male cheerleader also means getting picked on and not having the faith of some people around me.” Hammann says that he often hears of people calling him homophobic slurs or judging his decision to partake in a female dominant sport.

It’s not easy doing something this out of the ordinary, at least a dose of criticism comes with doing such a thing. Fellow cheerleader Hunter Zempel says “I haven’t been there when he has been picked on, but I’m sure he has. People have asked me about it but I’ve told them what’s up.” Coach Oien sees differently though. Oien says, “I have not noticed Zander getting picked on at all. In fact, it’s been the complete opposite. All I’ve gotten is compliments, thus far. Plus, if you haven’t seen him do a running tumbling pass, you’re missing out.”

Being a male cheerleader also means getting picked on and not having the faith of some people around me.”

— Zander Hermann

Hammann takes a lot of criticism, but deserves all kinds of praise. He has stepped up and taken on the challenge of being a male in a female dominant sport. He is simply just having fun in a sport he enjoys. Not to mention he has loads of talent. For the bravery he has to do this, he has gathered criticism for simply being different. Zempel says “I have noticed a lot of praise in his tumbling but I believe he should get more praise for being brave enough to become a male cheerleader in this school.”

Hammann says he deals with the doubters and hecklers by simply just ignoring them. He has aspirations to stick with cheerleading and continue to flip over adversity. He plans to be apart of the team again next year.