Holt High Student Mason Cordell Channels Passion for Sports Adventure into Cheerleading
The Athleticism of Stunting and Cheer is the Home Cordell Was Looking For at Holt
HOLT, Mich. – Mason Cordell, a junior at Holt High School, played a litany of sports growing up. But it wasn’t until he began backflipping in crowded hallways, during passing periods as an underclassman, that he was introduced to his passion – and head cheer coach Gretchen Gibbs.
“Mason, you can’t do that in the hallway’,” Gibbs said to Cordell. “He’d do that at school in the hall and kind of have to get after him. I was like, ‘You should join cheer, you can flip all you want to, and you don’t have to do it in the hallway’.”
That fateful meeting led Cordell to look into cheerleading and a turning point in his life.
Cordell began displaying his creative athleticism through parkour and free-running, often described as “urban gymnastics”. These sports are comprised of flipping, spinning, and climbing outdoors. These experiences offered a smooth transition into his next bold endeavor.
Gibbs, Holt’s French teacher, proposed the idea of cheerleading to Cordell.
“It started off kind of like a joke – he came in in a boot one day,” Gibbs said, now in her fourth year of coaching. “He had fractured something in his foot, I think from flipping. I was like, ‘Yeah, once you get healed up, you should join cheer. We can give you the opportunity to do all that stuff and do it safely’.”
Cordell agreed, and Gibbs kept on him to make sure he was serious. Once Cordell showed up at tryouts, she knew he was for real.
“It [cheer] was never the sport,” Cordell said. “It’s crazy because I played almost every sport growing up. After I got into high school that kind of fizzled out, I kind of just got bored of it. I was really looking for something new. I started thinking and I was like, ‘Man, this is the one sport where I get to do flips like all the time and be in front of people like my friends at games and stuff’.”
During his sophomore year, Cordell made varsity and cheered sideline during football and basketball games. Along with high school and All-Star cheer, Cordell participates in the Peer Assistance and Leadership program and is a National Honor Society member. If his schedule doesn’t seem busy enough, add some practices with Michigan State cheer.
“My mom had a friend that used to be a cheerleader for MSU,” Cordell said. “He hooked me up somehow with the cheer coach for MSU right now, so I get to practice with them sometimes, and that’s a ton of fun.”
Cordell has his sights set on collegiate cheer once he graduates next year.
“As I started doing this, colleges started talking to me,” Cordell said. “I’m kind of hoping maybe I’ll get a scholarship to a nice cheer school. Kind of hoping for GVSU (Grand Valley State), honestly … They have one of the best NCAA programs, especially for co-ed stunt teams.”
Cordell understands the risks that come with cheer, as injuries are common as the difficulty of the stunts increase.
“People don’t understand how dangerous cheer is,” Cordell said. “Personally, I’ve gone through a bunch of injuries. I’ve expected that. I’ve already had all that with parkour and free-running and everything. There would be nights where I would come home and be exhausted, dead tired. Could not do anything because my body hurt so bad from being beaten up from cheer, but I liked it … If my body hurts that means something.
“That means that you’re working hard enough to the point where you’re going to get stronger.”
Cordell’s dedication, athleticism, and talent prove this is his calling.
“This is my passion,” Cordell said. “I finally found it. I was super happy, but I didn’t know really where I could do it because there wasn’t any sport that I knew of that I could be doing this stuff, and then I found out about cheer and it just kind of progressed and now here we are.”
Something that began as being an adventurous, daring kid turned into a passion and future. He may still do flips in the hallways of Holt High School, but soon, he’ll have a bigger platform to showcase his athleticism.
“I couldn’t see myself doing anything else,” Cordell said. “Once you find what you love, why would you do anything else?”