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Meet the Only Black Male Cheerleader on the Ole Miss Spirit Squad this Fall Semester

Lee Anthony Williams, photo by Melody Dixon
Lee Anthony Williams, photo by Melody Dixon

Growing up and watching Saturday football games on television, Lee Anthony Williams had always looked at the Ole Miss male cheerleaders in admiration as they lifted girls with one hand and did seemingly impossible stunts.

He now has the chance to be one of those guys and happens to be the only African-American on the Ole Miss Cheer squad this football season.

“I thought I’d never be able to do that, and look at me now,” he said. “I’m still learning and progressing, and I love it.”

Williams is a Lambert, Mississippi native and the son of Brenda and Leon Williams. He had his start on the varsity team of Madison Shannon Palmer High School. After graduating, he didn’t sit down on his gift so he continued cheering for Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi.

Williams credits assistant cheer coach Trey Griffin, who also coached him at NMCC, for encouraging him to try out. The hard work he put in the three-day process including a fitness test, stunt test and an interview earned him a spot on the team.

He said, “There was a lot going into it, and now I’m here. When I told my family and friends, they thought it was the coolest thing.”

He didn’t expect for them to respond with how proud they were.

“It feels good when you have that kind of title behind your name, but you don’t want to let that determine who you are,” he says. “You don’t want to be big-headed. You want to still be the person you are and be thankful.”

Photo courtesy Facebook/ Ole Miss cheer
Photo courtesy Facebook/ Ole Miss cheer

Despite his race difference, he sees the entire team as a family and doesn’t really care what color they are.

Courtney Mitchell, who is a cheerleader at NMCC, says she misses him at practice and keeping her laughing. After cheering with him during her freshman and sophomore years, she can say that she loves Lee like a brother.

“He’s an amazing mentor and is always encouraging me to do my best. Through determination and hard work, he has made it so far, and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” says Mitchell.

Williams gets an adrenaline rush that prepares him for flight rather than fright when performing with the cheerleading team.

“I don’t really get nervous,” he said. “I’ve performed in front of thousands of people before and the game is 60,000 plus. It’s real fun. I like looking into the fans’ faces. I get smiles back. I’ll get waves, high fives, or a ‘Go Rebels.’ I love the fans.”

One challenge he has met that has also been beneficial for him is physical training. To him, workouts are the ‘real deal.’

“I came in benching 150, now it’s 240,” Williams said.

Photo courtesy Facebook/ Ole Miss Cheer
Photo courtesy Facebook/ Ole Miss Cheer

As soon as they are finished with their mandatory exercise, they consume protein shakes and healthy foods to stay healthy.

As a junior in his first semester, he is majoring in criminal justice, a discipline that his father and other family members involved in law enforcement took up.

“At first, I thought ‘This is not for me,” he said. “Then something pulled me right back into it, and I thought about homeland security. For some reason, it sounds so interesting to me.”

Because he is intrigued by the fact that protecting the country could range from monitoring borders to airport jobs, his long-term goal is to get as far as he can on that career path.

Melody Dixon is a senior print journalism major at Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She can be reached at mddixon@go.olemiss.edu.

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