Kyle Tanguay, Swoop and two other members of the Eagles cheer squad

This season brings something new for the Eagles: a man on the cheerleading squad. Kyle Tanguay is the first male to cheer for Philly football in 35 years.

Cheerleading originated as an all-male sport. When the stunt acts were introduced in the 1800s as entertainment during games, women were banned from the squads. That continued up until the world wars, when holes left by the draft afforded women many new opportunities.

Several NFL teams flirted with men on cheer squads in the 1970s and ’80s, including Philadelphia. But the two male Liberty Belles faced fan ridicule on the field during the 1984 season, according to the Inquirer, and quickly faded from sight.

The Birds haven’t had a male cheerleader since. Until now.

At 6’2″ with brown hair, blue eyes, a fierce attitude and an even hotter physique, the new sports entertainment star is ready to get Eagles Nation fired up.

Here’s 10 things to know about Philly’s new cheerleading hero, Kyle Tanguay.

He’s the fourth modern cheer man in the NFL

During the 2018 season, Quinton Peron and Napolean Jinnies made history by joining the regular Los Angeles Rams squad, and Jesse Hernandez was hired by the New Orleans Saints shortly after. This year Tanguay joins them, continuing the trend.

His great-grandmother was a cheerleading pioneer

Defying stereotypes in cheerleading runs in the family. As Tanguay tells it, his great-grandmother Shirley Hodgdon was the first-ever female cheerleader at New Hampshire’s Portsmouth High School in 1937. At age 98, she’s still “feisty,” Tanguay said.

Tanguay’s roommate is on the Eagles squad too

Tanguay first got the idea to try out for the team after hearing the stories of his roommate Rae Holtzman, who was already an Eagles cheerleader. They reportedly practiced together every morning for months leading up to tryouts.

The organization built him a separate locker room

Take this as a sign of recognition that the male cheerleader trend will continue. The Eagles built Tanguay his own locker room, according to Out Sports. For now, he has it all to himself.

He’s a dance major at the University of the Arts

Tanguay came to Philly three years ago to attend UArts for dance, something he’s called “the best move of my life.” He’s studying for his bachelor of fine arts, with a target graduation date of 2020.

Kyle Tanguay in a promo photo for Long2 dance company Credit:

Tanguay is originally from New Hampshire

Rochester, a town of around 30,000 in Stafford County, N.H., is the place Tanguay calls home. At age 10, he followed his dream of being in musical theater by starting training at Fusion Dance Academy in Dover. N.H., about 11 miles south.

The Super Bowl season made him a fan

Kyle arrived in Philly right as the Eagles were starting their historic 2017-18 season. The sense of camaraderie and community among Birds fans was super appealing, he told 6ABC, and he loved watching Doug Pederson plot the course to the trophy. He said he now considers himself a fan for life.

He’s danced all over the country

Tanguay’s resume includes performances in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston, as well as in Philly. He recently choreographed and danced in a music video for a world-touring artist named Luca Fogale.

He’s in a professional dance company

NYC dancer and choreographer Vanessa Long recently launched a secondary company in Philadelphia and Kyle is a member. Long2 has eight dancers including Tanguay, and performs about half a dozen times each year, according to Dance Informa.

Tanguay does have a boyfriend

Being a man selected for NFL cheerleading has given Tanguay minor celebrity and turned him into a role model for thousands. It also scored him a new boyfriend. Per Out Sports, the beaux is an avid Eagles fan who slid into his DMs after hearing the news.

Danya Henninger was first editor and then editor/director of Billy Penn at WHYY from 2019 to 2023.