Eagles male cheerleader: meet Philadelphia native James LeGette
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When the Eagles play their first home game of the season on Sunday, there will be plenty of new faces around Lincoln Financial Field, including freshman cheerleader James LeGette.
LeGette is one of two male cheerleaders this year, following in the footsteps of Kyle Tanguay, who in 2019 became the Eagles’ first male cheerleader in 35 years.
Interestingly, cheerleading started out as an all-male sport. When stunts became mainstream entertainment at sporting events in the 1800s, women were banned from teams. The practice continued until the World Wars, when most young and capable men were drafted into combat and women began to take their place. Over the next century, male cheerleaders in professional sports became scarce.
But the narrative has changed in the NFL over the past few years, with the Birds on the cutting edge.
LeGette is thrilled to be part of the movement. We sat down with him (on Zoom) to find out 10 things to know about the latest addition to the Eagles’ cheerleading squad.
He’s a Philadelphian through and through
Although he currently resides in Bucks County, where his parents moved when he was 6, LeGette was born in town and considers it his true home. No matter where life takes him, he said he will always be a Philly kid.
He didn’t make the team on his first try
LeGette first considered auditioning for the team two years ago, but hasn’t quite agreed. Then he saw Tanguay making the team. “I’m like, well, a guy can do that too. He inspired me to try and start breaking down some barriers, ”said LeGette.
He auditioned in 2020 and went far enough, but not all the way. But he persevered, and this year was chosen. The audition has in fact always been open to male participants, he said. “I’m quite grateful to be part of an inclusive, inclusive and welcoming organization like the Eagles.”
He was giving dance lessons when he heard the news
At a local dance recital, LeGette was filming students doing a piece he had choreographed when he saw the email appear on his phone. He immediately swung over to read what he was saying – and collapsed crying.
“I told the studio owner, she started crying too. And she announced to everyone who was at the recital that I was on the team,” he recalls. His students ran towards him. and started covering him with hugs, “It was probably one of the best feelings I have ever had.”
His family is full of die-hard Eagles fans
Unofficially, LeGette has cheered on the team his entire life. “The Eagles fans. The Phillies fans. Flyers, whatever Philly, you name it. We’re fans of it,” he said of his family.
It’s the normal thing to do in Philadelphia, he observed. “I would say we have the most passionate fans ever. Because you know, sport is the way of life here in Philly… our fans live and breathe the sport of Philly 365 days a year. He added that “you could feel the electricity” in the air during the Linc preseason games this summer.
He fell in love with dancing at Sesame Place
As a child, LeGette loved to sing rather than dance, but always found himself at the top of school shows. “Everyone started to say how good a dancer I was,” he said. “I’m like, well okay. So I started to stick to it. “
He found a job as a dancer at Sesame Place, alongside Elmo, Big Bird, and Grover, and that’s where it clicked. That’s what he wanted to do with his life. “I started signing up for classes and after that I fell in love with them. It has become my greatest passion.
The support team makes 300 appearances per year
The Eagles cheerleaders have official workouts two or three times a week, but beyond that there are also appearances – up to 300 of them each year, at various local gatherings and with different organizations. charities. There are big events like the Eagles Autism Challenge, and smaller things like a recent playground construction.
“So that’s a lot,” said LeGette, “but it’s also worth being out there with our community, helping and giving back to others.”
He also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters
Volunteering has always been an important part of LeGette’s life. He has been a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor for the past five years and says he meets his mentee, Oscar, at least two days a week.
“I was able to show Oscar what is right and wrong and teach him… how to approach certain scenarios when it comes to his personal life,” said LeGette. “I did it so that I could change his perspective on life, but I didn’t know he was going to change my perspective on life as well.”
And, yes, LeGette has said that Oscar is definitely going to attend an Eagles game at some point this season.
Education is another passion
A graduate of Bucks County Community College, LeGette continues to take classes as he studies for a full degree. During this time, he also works as a teaching assistant at Maple Point Middle School and hopes to continue in this direction.
“In about five years, if I still don’t play, I would love to have my own classroom,” said LeGette.
He hopes to inspire other male cheerleaders.
According to a reporter from NYU Journalism, at least 11 NFL teams have men on their cheerleader teams, so male cheerleaders are represented in just over a third of the league.
One of LeGette’s goals is to help more men join the professional ranks. “I hope what I’m doing and what all the other male cheerleaders are doing will inspire more men to pursue their passions,” he said.
Friends asked him for tickets – and he loves it
Are the people he knows who hear about his new concert asking for tickets? Without a doubt.
“A lot of my friends have asked me to go to the games,” said LeGette, “and that’s totally okay. I love when people come and support me. [me] and the Eagles, and the whole organization.