A 335 lb high school defensive lineman has an unusual half time ritual. Rather than joining his team in the locker room to discuss 2nd half strategies, Armond Fernandez-Pierre, 17, dons a cheerleading outfit and joins the squad for the halftime show.
The Texas teenager played football up until the 8th grade until a neck injury sidelined him with a severed spinal cord that left him paralyzed on his right side. As he recovered and regained strength, Armond realized that his size could be an asset if only there was a venue in which he might be able to lift and hurl girls into the air. Enter the Episcopal School of Dallas cheerleading squad. They embraced him. He embraced them. Pep rallies and half time shows have never been the same.
Then things came full circle. Football coach Clayton Sanders spotted Armond practicing on the field with his squad and approached him about joining the team. Armond agreed but under one condition: he could still cheerlead during half time. The coach agreed.
“This is a school that’s helped me at the darkest parts, and the deepest parts, of anybody’s life …not just mine,” he said. “And I knew from that moment, that I have to strive to do my best to contribute to my school.”
It is now rumored that Armond is on the recruiting roster of prestigious college football programs, including those of UCLA and the University of Miami.
“Anybody,” he said, “it doesn’t matter who they are, can strive to do whatever they want. As long as they’re willing to work hard enough for it.”
There have been unconfirmed reports that two teenagers recently ridiculed Armond for his cheerleading pursuits. They are pictured here.