My niece, Siara Harman is one of many girls who were cheerleaders in high school and college. She even won a State Championship and a Grand National Championship with the Kelly Walsh Cheer Squad in 2011. Since it’s beginnings, cheerleading has come a long way. In fact, I doubt if today’s cheerleaders would recognize their earlier counterparts, if they saw them back then. Siara was a skilled cheerleader, and very athletic, and we are all proud of her cheerleading years.
The roots of American cheerleading are closely tied to American football’s roots. The first intercollegiate football game was played on November 6, 1869, between Princeton University and Rutgers University in New Jersey. By the 1880s, Princeton had formed an pep club. Organized cheering started as an all-male activity, as many sports do. As early as 1877, Princeton University had a Princeton Cheer. Basically, it was a fight song that was documented in the February 22, 1877; March 12, 1880; and November 4, 1881, issues of The Daily Princetonian. This cheer was yelled from the stands by students attending games, as well as by the athletes themselves. The cheer, “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Tiger! S-s-s-t! Boom! A-h-h-h!” remains in use with slight modifications today, where it is now referred to as the Locomotive. Princeton class of 1882 graduate Thomas Peebles moved to Minnesota in 1884. He took with him the idea of organized crowds cheering at football games to the University of Minnesota. The term “Cheer Leader” had been used as early as 1897, with Princeton’s football officials having named three students as Cheer Leaders: Thomas, Easton, and Guerin from Princeton’s classes of 1897, 1898, and 1899, respectively, on October 26, 1897. These students would cheer for the team also at football practices, and special cheering sections were designated in the stands for the games themselves for both the home and visiting teams. On November 2, 1898, the University of Minnesota was on a losing streak. A medical student named Johnny Campbell assembled a group to energize the team and the crowd. Johnny picked up a megaphone and rallied the team to victory with the first organized cheer: “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-U-Mah! Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Minn-e-so-tah!” With that action, Campbell became the first cheerleader in America. Soon after, the University of Minnesota organized a “yell leader” squad of six male students, who still use Campbell’s original cheer today. In 1903, the first cheerleading fraternity, Gamma Sigma, was founded.
In 1923, at the University of Minnesota, women were finally permitted to participate in cheerleading. However, it took time for other schools to follow. In the late 1920s, many school manuals and newspapers that were published still referred to cheerleaders as chap, fellow, and man. Women cheerleaders were overlooked until the 1940s, when collegiate men were drafted for World War II, creating the opportunity for more women to make their way onto sporting event sidelines. As noted by Kieran Scott in Ultimate Cheerleading: “Girls really took over for the first time.” A report written on behalf of cheerleading in 1955 explained that in larger schools, “occasionally boys, as well as, girls are included,” and in smaller schools, “boys can usually find their place in the athletic program, and cheerleading is likely to remain solely a feminine occupation.” During the 1950s, cheerleading in America also increased in popularity. By the 1960s, some began to consider cheerleading too feminine an extracurricular activity for boys, and by the 1970s, girls primarily cheered at public school games. However, this did not stop its growth. Cheerleading could be found at almost every school level across the country, even youth leagues. In 1975, it was estimated by a man named Randy Neil that over 500,000 students actively participated in American cheerleading from grade school to the collegiate level. He also approximated that 95% of cheerleaders within America were female. Since 1973, cheerleaders have started to attend female basketball and other all-female sports as well. As of 2005, overall statistics show around 97% of all modern cheerleading participants are female, although at the collegiate level, cheerleading is co-ed with about 50% of participants being male.
As the summer comes to an end, the kids in the local school system head back to school. Some areas started earlier than ours. While I think school should start on the same date statewide, I am a firm supporter of school starting the Tuesday after Labor Day and ending the Friday before Memorial Day. Nevertheless, they didn’t ask me, and so here we are. School started on September 2, 2015 for the students of Natrona County, and that was the day my grandson went back to high school for his junior year.
My grandson, Josh Petersen is the last of my grandchildren to be in the public school system. It is strange to think that of him being the final one. Josh is a Junior at Kelly Walsh High School, and while he may not be totally looking forward to high school this year, he is pretty excited about the college classes he is taking through the Boces program. The college started on August 25, 2015. For those who don’t know, the Boces program takes surplus money that was not spent during the school year and gives it back to the students in the form of paid tuition for college classes. For students who are motivated to get ahead, the program is perfect. And Josh is very motivated to start working on his career.
Josh has decided that he wants a career in firefighting and EMT. I have long thought Josh would be perfectly suited to either EMT or firefighting. He has been a caregiver for much of his young life, helping with the care of his great grandparents and doing that work in a careful, meticulous manner. He is such a caring young man, and I know that he will carry that into his work as a firefighter and EMT. His great grandparents noticed his special abilities right away. They could see that he paid careful attention to the directions for the care he was going to be giving, and then did exactly what he had been told. At one point, after he was trained to do the Epley Maneuver for Vertigo, his great grandpa, Walt Schulenberg said that Josh was the only one of the younger generation that he fully trusted with the treatment.
Josh is really enjoying his Intro to Fire Science and his Fire Fighting Strategy and Tactics I classes. He is the youngest student in his classes, and the only one who is still in high school. That just reinforces the determination he has for his career choice. He doesn’t want to wait two long years to get started on his training. He is ready to start now. He has had the chance to visit the fire stations in town, and talk to the firefighters at length. He will also be involved in training at the training tower in town and in community service that the firefighters and trainees are involved in. He wants to do anything extra that he can too, so for the first time, he has chosen to donate blood. Josh wants to be a protector of life, and I am so proud of that desire in him. His training is only beginning, but everything he will be doing has served to get him more and more excited about his career choice. I think it is really awesome for Josh to be starting his college classes. I this he feels like he is finally starting his life’s work…even if he is just in the training stages right now. It’s an exciting time for him. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
James, it is so hard to believe that yet another of my grand nephews is graduating. It still seems like you should be just a little boy. I know that is crazy, because you and Caalab are the same age, and you are ten days older in fact. The years have flown by so quickly. I remember the day you were born, and every milestone in between that day and graduation. Now you are a man, and we couldn’t be more proud of the man you have become. You are a quiet man much of the time, but the little kids all love being around you so much. Watching you yesterday with Aleesia, and all the fun she was having climbing all over you, and then Raelynn and Audrianna coming in and making a beeline for you. It is so obvious that they all just love you so much.
While our minds are able to clearly see all the years that have gone by, and what a cute little boy you were, we find ourselves struggling with the fact that the little boy you were is gone forever now…and in his place is a tall young man, who is ready for the world and the next step in his journey in life. Whether you know exactly where you are headed, or if your plans are still in the works, I know that you will succeed in whatever you decide to do, because you are a person who completes what he starts. Still, today is about a finished race. You have completed all the requirements to receive your high school diploma…the achievement that we take you the longest time among life’s achievements. Before you now stands the next door in your life, and it is up to you to choose where that door will lead. No one else can make the decision for you. Your parents and family can advise you, but the choice is your and yours alone.
For now, James will attend Casper College, and take the required courses for graduation, since he hasn’t settled on a career path for sure. That’s never a bad idea. Taking all the basic classes leaves you with the ones that really interest you when you know where your career is headed. James is also hoping to save money to take a trip to the Netherlands, where his girlfriend is from. Julia is a foreign exchange student at Kelly Walsh, but will be heading home soon, so he wants to go see her there in her home country. Who knows, maybe he will choose to go to college there. Again, only time will tell, but for now, James is simply looking forward to his graduation, because it is the goal he has worked long and hard for. Congratulations James Renville!! We are very proud of you!! Way to go!!
If there is one thing I can say about my niece, Liz, it is that she loves sports. In fact, there was a time she considered becoming a sportscaster. And she would have been a great one too, because I don’t know of anyone who knows more about their teams than Liz. And, I’m pretty sure she she keeps up with all the other teams too. Liz was a big sports fan, when everyone thought girls didn’t like sports…or was it just that girls were closet sports fans.
Liz is a fan of the Denver Broncos, which was something she was proud to share with her grandpa, my dad. Of course he wasn’t the only one who shared her love of the Broncos, but he was the one who was the most important to Liz. They shared a love of the Denver Broncos and the New York Yankees. It created a special kind of bond between them that no one else had. When the subject came around to either team and they were both in the room, it was their conversation, and no one else’s. That was never something any of us were jealous about. We all thought it was wonderful that Dad had someone who was so knowledgeable about sports to talk sports with. It was heartwarming to watch that, because as the dad of daughters and only 4 grandsons, there weren’t a lot of sports minded people around him. Liz was one person who understood the games, and could talk intelligently about it with my dad, and that was a greater gift than Liz can possibly know.
I know that I certainly couldn’t do that, because until the Broncos went to their first Super Bowl, I liked the Broncos, but only in passing. And while I watch the Super Bowl every year, and I’m still a Die Hard Broncos Fan, I don’t watch much football on a weekly basis. Liz on the other hand watches the Denver Broncos, The Denver Nuggets, the New York Yankees, the Wyoming Cowboys, and of course, every game that Kelly Walsh plays…and those were just the ones I know of. There are many ways to describe Liz, but none so well as Grandpa’s Favorite Sports Fan. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!