Matthew Guglielmo made history when he became the first male cheerleader to compete at Oceanside High School, where in his senior year he served as cheerleading team captain and was named to All County. Now, as a class of 2022 alumnus, he has added to his accolades by becoming a collegiate national champion as a member of the University of Delaware cheerleading team at the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Competition.
A three-year varsity athlete at Oceanside, Guglielmo, 18, was named to the All-Long Island second cheerleading team and All Division as a junior. He then sent out a highlight reel that led to him to being recruited by the University of Delaware coaches.
His journey started, however, with gymnastics in middle school where a cheer coach convinced him to try cheerleading out.
“I kind of just fell in love with it and then stuck with it and tried out for high school,” he said. “Finding cheer was kind of the perfect sport for me.”
When he heard the news that he was the first-ever male cheerleader at Oceanside, he thought it was intriguing — but he said it wasn’t the reason he tried out.
“To me, it was just me doing what I wanted to do,” he said, “And I thought it was fun, and I really enjoyed it. But then my freshman year of high school, it kind of, like, clicked a little bit more because I was the first guy on Oceanside cheer, and started to compete on a competition routine. So that’s when it kind of, like, hit me that I’m making history for the district.”
If other young men want to try out, Guglielmo said he hopes “they know that they could do that and there’s nothing against it.”
During his junior year, Guglielmo started to plan for college and realized two things: He wanted to keep pursuing cheer, and he wanted to major in landscape architecture. The University of Delaware, where he just finished his first semester, has excellent programs for both. While architecture is his main goal, he’d like to cheer on the side in the future and possibly coach.
His first semester ended on a high note, with his national competition win, confirming for him that all his hours of practice paid off and reaffirming that he’s on the right track.
“You spend like the entire year training for this competition,” he said, “And we do have games to, like, show off our skills and, like, perform, but it’s not the same. Whereas like with UCA nationals, you just compete, like once your finals routine is like the last time you competed. So, everything leads up to that moment. So, there is a lot of pressure. And it’s just knowing that you and your team are going to do well, when it comes down to that.”
Being on a team with more seasoned athletes was intimidating for him, he said, but, he added, “You have to trust them and know that they’re going to do their job and you’re going to do yours. Cheer is very dangerous stuff, especially as years go on and people are trying more things. So, concussions are common, broken bones, broken fingers.”
The main goal is to make everything look as effortless as possible while putting the most effort in as you can. “You have to make the crowd believe that you could do (a cheer) 10 out of 10 times even if you can’t,” he said. “You have to do the hardest skills that you have that are still clean and look good.”
Guglielmo said he couldn’t do it without the Oceanside coaches that got him there – Kristen Pizzuto, assistant coach; Jillian Edelman junior varsity coach; and Samantha Chaback, varsity coach. All continue to cheer him on from afar.
“I learned everything I knew from them. They gave me the foundation to get where I am,” he said.
“Matty has made history for Oceanside not only as our first competitive male cheerleader but also our first collegiate national champion,” said Chaback, “We are so proud of him.”