Whenever you go to a sporting event, no matter what sport or level, fans love to cheer for their favorite teams. This has been so as long as sporting events have taken place, but organized cheering (or cheerleading) dates back to 1898. Thomas Peebles brought cheering to the University of Minnesota from Princeton University, but student Johnny Campbell took it on and led the crowd in the organized cheer of “Rah, Rah, Rah! Sku-u-mar! Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Minn-e-so-tah!” His leading of the cheers at the game merited a write up in the November 12, 1898 edition of the “Ariel” stating that Campbell and the others leading the crowd in cheers would “see to it that everybody leaves the park today breathless and voiceless.” Shortly after this game, an organized squad was formed at the University of Minnesota that consisted of six male students.
At the turn of the century, cheerleading as an organized activity or sport began to expand. By 1903 the first cheerleading fraternity, Gamma Sigma, was formed. In the 1920’s women began to become active in cheerleading, because until about 1923 cheerleaders were only males. When women joined the ranks of cheerleaders, items like megaphones and acrobatic or gymnastic moves were added to the routines. The pom-pom (what some might consider the ultimate symbol of a cheerleader) was invented by Fred Gastoff in 1965.
The National Cheerleaders Association (or NCA) was formed in 1948 by Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer, a former cheerleader for Southern Methodist University. He formed this association to hold clinics for cheerleaders, and the first clinic (held in 1949) consisted of 52 female participants. He also formed the Cheerleading Supply Company in 1953, which retailed skirts and sweaters for cheerleading teams and groups.
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