History of cheerleading is as interesting as the sport itself. Read this article and find out about the origins of cheerleading and more!

History of Cheerleading

Does the word ‘cheerleading’ bring to your mind a picture of pretty girls with short skirts and pom-poms? Then you would have been in for a shock had you witnessed the trends during 1900’s. They had a male cheerleading squad back then! And do you want to know why? Because, they figured that guys can cheer louder than girls. Although even in modern times also there are stray cases of a male cheerleading team, but they are only half the amount of fun! And not because cheerleading is only skin deep – it is much more than the short skirts that we see. The different formations like throws and pyramids that are involved with cheerleading are quite difficult and not many can master the art of incorporating all these into a visually appealing show. Cheerleading has come a long way from its humble origins where it was considered quite a taboo. Nowadays, parents proudly send their wards for practising and urge them to make it to the cheerleading teams. All of you who think that all this business was rather silly and hanky-panky should reconsider their opinions. Cheerleading is more than just time pass – it is actually a serious professional choice. Professional cheerleading squads have opened the doors for cheering to be taken up as a career option across the world. Read this article to know where it all began.
Interesting Information About Origin And Background Of Cheerleading
  • It all began in the 1800’s and who would have guessed that it will reach an eighty seven member federation by 2010 in the International Cheer Union.
  • Back when cheerleading was only beginning to evolve as a sport, it comprised of a 6-member male team! It originated in the United States of America. More specifically in a University called, Princeton University, in the year 1884. They are credited for coming up with a unique and special cheer for their college. The purpose was the same as today – motivating their team and sending them positive energy – and the effort paid off when their team was declared winner of the football match the college cheered for.
  • A Princeton graduate, Thomas Peebles, joined the University of Minnesota and this is where the second sighting of cheerleading was documented. Peebles introduced cheerleading in Minnesota in 1898 and Johnny Campbell became the first known cheerleader by directing the others to chant, “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!” With Lady Gaga still singing “Rah rah rah!” you should be able to guess that the chant is a rage even today. “Ski” is a Native American battle cry that means victory, and “U-Mah” is a sound representing the University of Minnesota which also co-incidentally rhymes with “rah-rah-rah” to form an ideal team cheer. Mr. Johnny Campbell is thus considered to be the modern father of cheerleading.
  • In 1903 the first male cheer squad was formed in Minnesota. It was called Gamma Sigma.
  • 1923 saw the influx of the fairer sex into the cheerleading scenario owing to the low number of sports that they could participate in back then. Even then, the sport was dominated by men and this monopolistic domination ended during World War II when the men folk catered to the war front while the women took charge of the country’s sports and brought glamour, fun and beauty to the cheerleading world.
  • The 1940s witnessed the birth of the first cheer leading training centre.
  • By 1960s, cheerleading had taken US by storm. Every high school, grade school and university had its separate cheerleading team. This is the time when NCA (National Cheerleading Association) was founded by Lawrence ‘Herkie’ Herkimer from Dallas, also responsible for the addition of pom-poms, cheer dance, ‘Herkie’ jump and spirit stick in cheerleading. No wonder he is called the “Grandfather of Cheerleading”.
  • Soon after in 1974, UCA (Universal Cheerleader’s Association) was formed by the formal General Manager and Vice President of NCA, Jeff Webb. This was the era of Dallas Cowboys Association and the Super Bowl X. Revealing outfits, classy moves and the oomph factor changed the face of cheerleading forever.
  • In the year, 1999 ESPN formally announced cheerleading to be a sport thereby acknowledging this fun-filled ancient cheering as serious business.
With all the above information, we hope you understand what it takes to be a cheerleader and share a history as vibrant and colourful as any other sport. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a pom-pom, play the song “YMCA” and start swaying your hips to the tunes!

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