Newman flips for gymnastics


Nick Powell

Max Newman shows off his gymnastics skills before a game.

Alex Barlog, Sports Writer

The stadium’s lights brighten, and the crowd roars as the gymnast flips across the track, becoming louder as he picks up speed and  the act crescendos to its finish.  

 Senior Max Newman is North’s first male cheerleader in years.

Newman has been tumbling, tucking and twisting since he could walk.  He owes his participation to his brother, Luke Newman since he is the reason that Newman decided to get involved in the sport. 

“My brother did gymnastics as well,” Newman said. “He got me into gymnastics. Watching him compete and succeed inspired me to try it out for myself.” 

Even though gymnastics teams do exist, it’s not a team sport. Participants compete individually, each representing the team name. This being said, Newman has never competed in a sport that carries the team aspect that cheer does. The North team was an opportunity for him to join a team, which was a big factor for him. 

“My favorite thing so far has been competing on a team,” Newman said. “It’s nice to be on a team, and to show my skills off to them.” 

His North teammates are very supportive, as he breaks down a barrier that typically exists on school cheer teams. 

“Personally, I was not nervous to add him to the team. He had good tumbling skills, making the team better,” senior cheerleader captain Ruby Yepsen said. “ I think overall, Max has brought more attention to the cheer program, and people tend to watch him and cheer for him which in turn brings eyes to the rest of the team.” 

So far, everyone on the team has adapted well to his presence and participation. 

“It was an adjustment at first, but having a boy on the team just feels normal now,” senior cheerleader Kailey Kiep said. “He is definitely a wow factor for Plainfield North cheer, as we’ve never had that aspect of the team before.” 

Because of Newman’s acrobatic skills, he was offered a highly competitive spot at tryouts for the Team USA National Cheer team this past July.  The team is coed with participants from across the U.S. 

 “Over 20 people were trying out for the same spot as me,” Newman said. “It took them a long time to make a decision, and I was very lucky to be picked.” 

Considering only 12 of the 32 people on the team are males, Newman is very proud to have his spot on the team. 

“ I was surprised that I had made the spot on the team,” Newman said “I thought my tryout was terrible. Obviously, I was thrilled after it set in what I had just accomplished.” 

The team competes around the world.  During the first week in October, Newman competed with the team for the first time in Santiago, Chile. In order to prepare for the event, a weekend of practices was held in Chicago before the trip. Newman described them as “treacherous and draining”, as each practice lasted 12 hours.

The competition in Chile went well. Newman said the trip was “some of the most fun he’s had cheering.” The team placed first in the competition. Newman next travels to  Florida in the spring, for the world championship. 

“It was amazing, there were so many people from every country,” Newman said. “Competing in a world championship was an exhilarating experience. To compete among the best from all over the world is wild.”