Bringing cheer to senior year

After serving as co-captain in an online year, Eugenio Pavon is back on the field leading the squad on one last ride


Risa Darlington-Horta

Senior Eugenio Pavon waits in the spirit line just before the second half of the 2021 Taco Shack Bowl at House Park on Aug. 26.

Julia Husted, staff reporter

Senior Eugenio Pavon’s journey from self taught cheerleader to cheer squad captain started seven years ago. Through watching videos and tutorials on YouTube, his interest in the sport blossomed, and he has been holding pom poms ever since.

Pavon’s teammates hold him in such high regard that they chose him as a team captain for the second year in a row.

“I kind of just taught myself at home on my trampoline,” Pavon said, reflecting on the early days of his cheer career.

After instructing himself, he enrolled in Cheer Station, a professional cheerleading training center. When high school came around, he decided to try out for McCallum cheer.

Pavon said that his favorite memory on the squad was the time they went to Great Wolf Lodge for cheer camp. The team took classes during the day, then got to have fun and relax at the water park after. The camp offered them time to spend with each other and become closer as a group.

According to Pavon, there is a strong community surrounding cheer, but being the only guy on the squad comes with its struggles. For him, the locker room situation was one of them.

“It hasn’t been difficult other than the fact that I can’t change with everybody else,” he said.

Because the rest of the team is made up of girls, they’re all able to spend time together and chat in the locker room before practice. Unfortunately, Pavon does not get to share this experience. Instead, he waits in the field house for the rest of the group to emerge from the girls’ room.


Senior Eugenio Pavon leads a cheer with fellow captain Wynter Winston at a football game this year. (Risa Darlington-Horta.)

Pavon said everyone has his teammates and co-captains have been very supportive of his cheerleading. Not only the squad, but also his family and friends have all been very supportive during his cheer journey. He said it generally feels “normal” when it comes to equal treatment and there isn’t much of a gap or lack of fairness. In fact, his teammates hold him in such high regard that they chose him as a team captain for the second year in a row.

Being selected twice comes with great responsibility, but for the past year and a half, taking on the role of captain has looked a bit different than in previous years.

Pavon’s family and friends have all been very supportive during his cheer journey.

Because of COVID-19, many restrictions have been set in place, making leadership and growth harder. Many sports classes were held online last year—cheer being one of them—and due to that change, participation declined significantly. For Pavon, Zoom is not a very effective way of forming a successful, smooth-running cheer squad. Because of the disconnect, it was quite difficult for people to ask questions and come to the captains for assistance, making it harder to work together.

Coming back to school in person, however, “strangely felt normal” for him because cheerleading is generally so hands-on. So, naturally, the team got right back to work when they returned to campus.

Fellow captain Wynter Winston can also vouch for this odd sense of normalcy.

“It didn’t feel like a two-year gap,” she says.

Since most of the members on the squad had already met, it was easier to slip back into their same routines, especially because the senior captains had experienced almost two full years of cheer at McCallum.

As a senior, the thought of leaving the squad this year is bittersweet for Pavon.

“I thought I’d be sadder,” he says. Because of the pandemic he has more-or-less come to terms with parting ways from the squad, but the sense of friendship and trust will surely be missed.