Donna North High School junior Andrew Thomas Mireles has made history at his campus. The 16-year-old became the first male student to lead the school’s dance team, The Spearettes.
Mireles, who has been a member of the DNHS Spearettes since his freshman year, aimed for the title during dance tryouts, but did not expect to be chosen. He said even his teammates were surprised. “When junior year tryouts came, nobody expected for me to get Major because I was a sophomore,” Mireles said. “It’s common practice for upper classmen who are already head officers to move up. But, I gave it my all during my performance. When I found out I was selected, I was so overwhelmed that I broke down and cried.”
Mireles admits while some teammates were excited for him, others were hesitant to accept him as their leader. Eventually, they came around. “At first, it was really hard because there was a lack of respect. But, thankfully, we were able to put everything behind us. Everything is perfect now. I am proud to lead such an awesome, motivated team.”
Mireles’ first sign that he may be interested in dance came when he was in first grade. “My mom was a cheer sponsor and the team wanted me to be the mascot. So, I would dress up like a little Indian and perform with the cheerleaders. I was supposed to just stand there while they practiced, but I would pick up their dance moves and end up performing with them.”
Mireles eventually joined the cheerleading squad in elementary school. But, when he moved on to middle school, Mireles began to realize that his passion was dance. “My parents were always very supportive. They would tell me ‘follow your heart. Do whatever your heart leads you to do.’ So, I enrolled in a dance class at school and really enjoyed it.”
Mireles wound up transferring to another school and once again enrolled in a dance class. His teacher, who saw potential, encouraged him to try out for the dance squad. Much to his surprise, he made the team. “At first, I didn’t want to try out. I didn’t think I would make it because I was chubby and didn’t consider myself any good. But, my teacher empowered me to try out and I made the team.”
But, by mid-year Mireles began to experience bullying. “Boys would say that guys shouldn’t be dancers. They’d say it was a girl thing. The girls were mainly supportive. They would cheer for me. That’s really what kept me going. I thought a lot about it and decided that I wasn’t going to let anyone keep me from following my passion.”
Things started to look up for Mireles in eighth grade when he made captain of the team. “I had lost a lot of weight. My turns were also getting better and leaps were getting higher. The year was great. I felt my classmates were starting to accept me as a dancer. We ended up getting first place that year at a dance competition in McAllen. It was the first time my self-esteem improved and I was able to prove myself as a dancer.”
When Mireles moved on to high school, his hard work and talent earned him a spot as a freshman on the DHNS Spearettes’ team and the title of officer the following year. Now, as a junior, Mireles will serve as Major, making him the youngest student and first male to lead the 32-member dance team at football games and other sporting events.
While the year is barely off to a start, Mireles is already gaining recognition. During the ShowMakers of America Dance Camp this past summer. Mireles was named Mr. ShowMaker 2018, an award given to the top dancer who shows outstanding leadership, technique, and congeniality.
“I feel I’m breaking barriers and opening the door for others. At dance camp, I saw more boys, so that made me happy. Some people need that extra push. If they see a male cheerleader, they’ll think its ok to try out. I feel I’m motivating others to do the same. It makes me feel proud.”
Mireles still has another couple of years to think about college, but he is already setting his eyes at Texas Tech where he plans to study dance and try out for the university’s Pom Squad. “There are no words to describe the happiness that I feel when I’m performing. It’s an awesome feeling. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”