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Zach Danz made the East Haven cheerleading squad as a senior and is hoping to inspire other boys in town to try out for the Yellowjackets. (Photo courtesy of Zach Danz )
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It was no easy feat for senior Zach Danz to become the second male to earn a spot on the East Haven cheerleading team in Head Coach Michelle Maru’s 11-year tenure. Zach had contemplated joining the Yellowjackets since middle school and was even cut from the squad a year ago. However, Zach put in plenty of work during the offseason and was rewarded when he made the Easties’ cheerleading team this year.
“I worked with some of the girls to make sure I did better when I came back my senior year and ended up making the team,” says Zach. “All junior year, I’d go to the gym every day before and after school and really worked hard to get into shape.”
Although Zach isn’t a member of East Haven’s competition team, he still gets the chance to support his fellow Yellowjackets by cheering on the football squad on Friday nights. Zach says the games are fun for everyone, and he’s having a good time while connecting with his teammates on the sidelines.
“I have opportunities to hang out with them more. I’ve never been a part of a team in high school, so being a part of the team, I get to see bus rides to and from football games,” says Zach. “We all get to fool around and have fun, so it’s a really enjoyable place to be, which is why I look forward to practices. Even though it’s a lot of work, we always laugh and fool around. It’s fun.”
Coach Maru says that Zach has made a big impact on the Yellowjackets during his brief time with the team. Maru feels happy to have Zach aboard, because he’s a hard worker who is always pushing himself to get better, as well as an all-around, good-natured kid.
“Since the beginning of the season, Zach has already improved so much and is still making progress with his tumbling and co-ed stunting,” Maru says. “He also brings a great attitude and sense of humor to the team. [Assistant coach Krista Anania], the team, and myself love having him as a member of the team. We are excited to continue to coach him and watch all his new accomplishments the rest of the season.”
As the Yellowjackets’ only male cheerleader, Zach is hoping to encourage other boys at East Haven High School to sign up for the squad.
“I’m hoping I’m a role model, so I’m not the first and only boy on the cheer team,” says Zach. “I hope by being on the cheer team and standing out, other boys will want to try out.”
While Zach wishes that he had tried out for the cheer team earlier, he’s making the most of his senior year with the Yellowjackets. Zach is enjoying the experience so much that he wants cheerleading to remain a part of his life after he graduates from East Haven.
“I’m really hoping I improve even more, so I can try out for a college cheer team, because one year is just not enough for me,” Zach says. “I want to keep pursuing it through college and have something to share with my kids in the future.”
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