Friday, January 04, 2008

Q&A with Ravens Cheerleader Henry 

Posted by James at 6:29 AM ET

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know we love to smash stereotypes. But this time we're going to switch it up as we take a closer look at one of the few guys in professional cheerleading.

Henry, Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader
Henry in 2006 at the Ravens Spring Football Festival

Born in the city he cheers for Henry is finishing up his fourth season with the Ravens. The Linthicum resident wears another uniform away from the field as a police officer in Anne Arundel County.

Henry was cool enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions.

Professional Cheerleader Blog: How did you start cheering?

Henry: I was a lacrosse player at North County High School. When I started at University of Maryland, College Park, I had to start in mid-July because I needed to pass 6 classes in the summer to actually get officially accepted into the school for the fall semester.

It was one of the most stressful summers of my life because I was under so much pressure to get into the school and I didn't want to fail. While in summer school, I worked out with my neighbor at the new gym on campus and somehow got into shape and got on the fitness kick. It was weird. I tried to walk on the the team at UMD but it just wasn't going to work so I joined the club team. A lot of the kids that were in my program that summer joined the cheerleading team. A girl I had even gone through elementary middle, and high school with was on the team. All year long they tried to get me to join but I refused to be a cheerleader.

One day I started stunting and it caught on fast. Best decision I made in my life!

PCB: When did you decide you wanted to be a police officer?

H: My degree at Maryland was a Criminology and Criminal Justice Degree. My uncle is a detective in Houston and I have always looked up to him. I never really had and interest in doing anything else.

PCB: Where and how long was academy training?

H: The academy was from May 2006 to November 2006. Six months long. It was in Davidsonville, MD. I hated it, but it was a great feeling at the end when we graduated.

Henry, Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader
2005 Redskins-Ravens Scrimmage

PCB: What's your proudest moment as an policeman?

H: I handled a situation where two children were eventually adopted by loving parents because their natural parents were drug addicts and were unable to raise them. It was such a sad situation but it makes me feel good that those kids are being raised properly and are nowhere near the destructive lifestyle of their parents.

My other would be my graduation. My uncle flew from Houston and he was the one who pinned my badge on my uniform.

PCB: How did you handle attending the academy and the Ravens?

H: It was tough. When I had night training, I would sometimes miss practice. I even missed a game. I felt awful because I truly did and still do love being on that team. But my job is my job and that took priority. Some days I would have practice after a long day at the academy. I would be drained. The next day at the academy would be difficult.

PCB: How do manage to balance cheering and your job now?

I work six days straight and then I am off for three days. One week I will work from 7am-3pm and the next I will work 3pm-11pm. I occasionally miss practice when I work nights. My day shift ends at 3pm, so I have time to go to the gym or take a nap after work before going to practice twice a week. Sometimes I just happen to be off that day. I don't miss games though because I can take off for them!

My coaching staff works with me and knows when I'll be missing practice. Tina and Tracy, have been my coaches for 8 years. They coached me at Maryland too and I couldn't have asked for two better people to be apart of my life. They are so supportive and are honestly like mothers to me. I would do anything for them in a heartbeat. No questions asked.

Henry, Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader
Henry and his stunt partner Amanda

PCB: Do you have a cool, interesting or inspiring story from on the job that you'd like to share?

H: Nothing really jumps out at me. Its basically a big reality check. Everyone on my team pretty much goes to work does, there thing, and calls it a day. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that at all! Everyday I get to spend with my team reminds me how truly lucky I am, not only to be on the team and have such good friends as teammates but to be raised by such good parents and to be in a good place in life. I unfortunately have to see all the things that are wrong with the world and the horrors that some people can be capable of.

PCB: Why did you decide to try out for the Ravens?

H: My coaches at UMD were and are still the coaches at Ravens. I just have a great relationship with them. A lot of people come through the program at Maryland and end up on Ravens.

PCB: What's worse: cheering in 110ยบ F heat under the sun in August or at a windy, freezing night game in December?

H: December hands down. One game it was so cold your body just hurt. It's hard to move because you can't feel anything and you have so many layers on. I hate the freezing cold. Hate it.

PCB: How much of the game are you actually able to watch?

H: We pretty much watch the game and stunt in between downs and timeouts.

PCB: How long would you like to keep cheering?

H: I keep asking myself that and I honestly don't know. I'm just going to take one season at a time because it's still fun to me. I still enjoy doing it. My coaches are great and so are my teammates. I plan on getting another year experience with the police department and then applying the Secret Service and FBI. I think if I get a job with the federal government it will be time to shut it down.

Henry, Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader
Entertaining the fans outside M&T Bank Stadium

PCB: How do people react they find out your a cheerleader and police officer or vice versa?

H: It's weird because some people don't look at a male cheerleader as being very masculine. But police officers are. So to some people it's hard to imagine. I try not to mix the two of them together too much because I'm a different person at work then when I'm with the team.

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