ASU has a Spirit Squad, and the Spirit Squad has a division called Sparky’s Crew. As you can imagine, Sparky’s Crew has—well, you know—lots of spark and tons of S-P-I-R-I-T! So what exactly is Sparky’s Crew? Don’t be confused, they’re male cheerleaders, sans the official cheerleader title.
Oftentimes male cheerleaders can get a bum rap, but thanks to Tyler Murphy, team captain of Sparky’s Crew, the male morale stays is at an all-time high, as he discussed with College Times.
College Times: Although the female cheerleaders, the Spirit Leaders, do a great job of revving up the crowd, do you think male cheerleaders are essential to the squad?
Murphy: Having guys, it’s a lot easier to put up harder stunts. It’s a lot easier to do pyramids and basket tosses. Adding guys adds a lot of physical strength and difficulty.
How do guys become part of the squad?
After the NCAA basketball tournament, that’s when we have our spring tryouts. It’s basically three days of stunting, interviews and basically just waiting and being patient. [The guys] obviously don’t do the dances like the girls do, so it’s definitely a lot of patiently waiting around.
What are the rules squad members have to abide by?
Basically, the rules are program-wide. We have to be a full-time student, we can’t do drugs and drink alcohol, and we have a good reputation on social media. Our coach stresses that we need to be responsible online and keep a respectable image.
Do you cross train to stay in shape?
We have a trainer that the whole program goes and sees a minimum of two days each week. Most of the guys are in the weight room four days each week, whether that’s with our trainer or at the SRC weight room. You have to practice the skills and get better. You have to build yourself up to be better as an athlete.
Are fans, athletes and community members supportive of the male cheerleaders at ASU?
It’s definitely half and half. When you tell people that you’re a male cheerleader, the first thing that probably comes to mind is that we just dance around, but when I tell people that we throw girls as high as we can and show them what we can do, they usually change their minds. The fun part is changing people’s perspectives.
Do you get more dates because of being on Sparky’s Crew?
Well, you definitely expand who knows you. I guess you can say that it opens up your network in one way or another. I’ve met a couple of nice young ladies while being part of the squad. (Laughs)
What are the responsibilities of a Team Captain?
Basically, it’s corny, but it’s about three things: mentor, manage and lead. It’s a lot of mentoring younger guys, making sure people and things are taken care of on game day and that everyone’s motivation and heads are in the right place.
What are the expectations of the squad on game-day?
Other than the obvious in the game when you lift up the girls and lead chants, we’re responsible for performing in the pep rally at Wells Fargo. Our guys set up for the actual game, which is making sure all the flags and megaphones are in the right place. Once it’s game time, we show off our skills and lead chants.