Something to cheer about: Football captain relishes role as cheerleader
Personal evolution happens at various speeds, and Wareham High School senior Angel Rodriquez is a great example of a highly-evolved high school student.
Rodriquez is the lone male cheerleader on the Wareham High School cheerleading squad, but last fall, he sported shoulder pads and a helmet as captain of the Wareham Vikings football team.
Within the four walls of a high school is a large group of kids who may or may not even associate with one another, were they not required to attend school. Being who you want to be is whole lot easier when you get to choose the company you keep, but for Rodriquez, that doesn’t seem to be much of a factor.
“There are people who are going to judge, why should I care what they think? I’m going to do what I want to do,” said Rodriquez.
Rodriquez says that in some ways, his previous role as captain of the football team helped ease the transition to the cheerleading squad.
“I’m kind of respected," said Rodriquez. "My friends mess with me, but it’s OK, because they’re my friends."
Rodriquez's outlook helped earn him a Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Spirit award this month.
“Going from football captain to cheerleader has not come without remarks,” said teacher and DECA adviser Cindy Sylvia, who nominated Rodriquez for the award.
In nominating him, she wrote: “Angel is an advocate for peace, understanding, love, and equality.”
Sylvia describes Rodriquez as being very humble, and at the Jan. 25 Vikings basketball game against Fairhaven, he seemed a little embarrassed as his female squad-mates talked about him.
"He's the most wonderful guy," said cheerleader Katelynn Halpren.
While Rodriquez takes the negative comments in stride, he's still prone to pre-performance jitters before stepping in front of the crowd.
“I get nervous every time I go to games," said Rodriquez. "Everybody’s watching me and if I mess up they’re all going to make fun of me."
But Rodriquez keeps on going, and though he enjoys his role on the squad, he plans to end his cheerleading career as a Viking. He has been accepted to North Park University in Chicago, where he plans to study business and play football.
Whatever path he chooses, Rodriquez's positive attitude and concern for others will be assets throughout his life.
Sylvia shared a story about a DECA competition during which students were required to stay overnight in a hotel. A sophomore student was apprehensive about spending the night.
“Angel came to me and told me to put that young man with him, and he [would] take good care of him, and make him feel comfortable and a part of the group," Sylvia recalled. "Angel didn't have to do that, and he wasn't asked to do it.”
That’s just how he is.