Give me a P
Give me a U
Give me a R
Give me a D
Give me a U
Give me a E
Who are the cheerleaders?
An Indiana farm boy living off the fat of prairie land—hogs pay for his blue Thunderbird.
A black militant with a Mao suit and a "natural"—"That's right baby, I'm for Wallace. He calls a spade a spade. If he ever got elected, we'd have a civil war. A lot of people would leave this country, but I'd stay 'round for the fight."
January 6, 1969
All for Georgia
Stand up and holler
A weight lifter who was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team—"They had sissy boys before as cheerleaders. Now it's real stud."
An Athens Poultry Princess, lank-haired and blonde.
Are you ready?
Who the hell are we?
Hey! Flim flam
A son of an Oxford, Miss, laundryman, "Johnny Rebel," furiously waving a Confederate flag. He spent $1,000 getting himself elected.
Miss Hattiesburg High '67, National Sweetheart of Theta Kappa Omega, Mississippi Junior Miss, Ole Miss Top Beauty, Miss America hopeful.
Leader: I got it.
Leader: You need it.
Leader: It's in mah eye.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Leader: It's in the sky.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Leader: It's on the roof.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Leader: Honest troof.
Our cool team, cool!
A black, finger-snapping, swinging prelaw student at New Mexico whose big beat is soul sounds.
Give me an S
Give me an E
Give me an X
What do we want?
A crew-cut varsity oarsman at Berkeley—"It's our version of the old 'Give-me-six-for-a-touchdown' cheer. You've got to have something risqué these days."
Lean to the left
Lean to the right
UCLA's put-on hippie—love beads, Galahad locks and mauve granny glasses. He calls it his nonviolent cheer.
This cacophony of modern stadium music is in its way a microcosm of college youth today. It reflects the country's diverse cultures—Midwest traditional, Southern aristocrat, Mississippi red-neck, California showboat—and its disparate ideals, concerns, goals, politics and prejudices. The attitudes behind the cheers are passed on from class to class and generation to generation like the family silver, with some of the qualities being sterling and a few rather tarnished. So fundamentally different are the cheers—and attitudes—of various representative universities that one wonders, in the last analysis, how a Purdue and UCLA, for example, can ever stand across a field and shout at each other.
The legacy at Purdue, the inheritance handed down, is one of clean living and hard work. "This is the last bastion of common sense," an assistant director of admissions at Purdue declares forthrightly. "The parents of our students don't want their sons and daughters going to institutions like Columbia, Berkeley and Antioch. Our students are here to learn a profession. They are not trying to solve the problems of the world. That can wait for another day. They don't have time for that hanky-panky. They think about calculus and chemistry, not 'I should do this' or 'I should do that' for philosophic reasons. Those are subversive groups at Berkeley and Columbia."
Purdue is as level-headed as a crew-cut, and the assistant director's assessment is borne out, and even typified by, Purdue's cheerleaders—though the specter of a disordered world began to arise last year. "Our kids are not activists," says the administration adviser to cheerleaders, Dean Virgil Miller. "If they are taking 18 hours of engineering they don't have time. It is the liberal arts students that are behind the occasional demonstrations here." It was one such demonstration that presented Dean Miller with some trying moments and led to the integration of the cheerleaders. Representation on the squad was one of several demands made by Black Student Action Committee agitators last spring. Purdue had 16 Negro football players, including the famous Leroy Keyes and two starting linemen who—at an average weight of 261—loomed large on the campus landscape. So the request was not surprising. Nor were the athletes directly involved. "I don't think ourathletes have any of the problems that you hear about at other places," Dean Miller says. "I happen to be doing my doctorate on the history of the Negro at Purdue. I haven't talked to any of the athletes yet but I don't think—in fact, I'd say categorically—that none of those things happen."
Before the demonstration a panel that included Dean Miller, two members of the campus Pep Committee and three of last year's cheerleaders had selected five boys and five girls as cheerleaders for 1968. All were members of sororities or fraternities. The system tends to be self-perpetuating. A graduating cheerleader coaches and promotes a sorority sister or fraternity brother. Sororities gain prestige by having a member on the cheering squad; it is supposed to be excellent evidence that the house is high-spirited and involved in campus activities. The Kappa Alpha Thetas, which at Purdue are "the better-class girls," according to Cheerleader Captain Mark Jones, had a cheerleading monopoly two years ago; four of the five girls on the squad were sorority sisters.
One of this year's Thetas, Mary Sweet—Sweetie to her friends—has been a cheerleader for three years and now heads the girls. In her purse she carries a splinter from a 1967 Rose Bowl goalpost. The cheerleaders traveled west for the game on a student train—their most memorable locomotive—and Sweetie has an album of snapshots showing them in places like Las Vegas and Denver, sightseeing in their cheerleader sweaters and doing Fight-Purdue-Fight routines in railroad stations.
Her male counterpart, Mark Jones, is the blond farmer's son who drives a Thunderbird. He worked in Chicago last summer but he did not particularly enjoy it. "I like the conservative life," he says. "I'm comfortable in it. I stayed away from Grant Park. Those hippies deserved what they got. The last two years the whole campus has been aware of this other element. People from larger cities are bringing in ideas. My idea is if they don't like the conservative atmosphere here they don't have to come." Were the majority of Purdue students as conservative as he? Jones was asked. "Yes," he said. "The political sentiment was for Wallace. He spoke out and told the truth, not lies."
Given their conservatism, the sorority girls and fraternity boys had to do considerable soul-searching—under administrative pressure—before agreeing to admit two Negroes arbitrarily to the squad. Neither girl, it was pointed out, had earned the right to be on the squad; they had not taken part in the regular cheerleader tryouts. The school administration, it was felt, was applying a principle of forced integration.
After much discussion, the cheerleaders agreed to accept the two blacks, Pam Ford and Pam King, though reluctantly. Pam Ford is the daughter of a Winston-Salem, N.C. milkman ("Oh, I've been telling everyone your father picked tobacco," Mary Sweet remarked one night) and is far from being a militant. Pam King, who has a brother at Dartmouth, is the stepdaughter of an East Chicago, Ind. welder and the wife of Charlie King, a quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. She is regarded uneasily on campus as an instigator of the Black Student Action group demonstration. Without doubt she lacks the grace and coordination to be a good cheerleader. "I had a purpose in wanting to become a cheerleader here," she says. "I saw it as a sign, a good omen, that Purdue could have black people on the squad. And I thought it would give me an opportunity to be close enough to a group of white people to sort of help them when they were being bigoted."
Her presence on the squad may or may not have led to many meaningful exchanges. Consider the following give-and-take, which occurred in a car carrying the cheerleaders to the Northwestern game last fall. Pam King was in the front seat attired in a Mao pants suit that militates against everything and everyone in West Lafayette, Ind. Her hair is "natural." In the back seat was blonde, green-eyed Diane Teder, an active Lafayette girl scout until she was a senior in high school. A Dow Chemical truck passes by.
Pam: Ah, man's inhumanity to man.... People around you tell you, 'Don't try. Forget about it.'
Diane: I think too many people in this world are pessimists. I think things are getting better.
Pam: What's going on that's good?
Diane: Well, Purdue beat Notre Dame last week (giggle). Let's see some optimism. When we were fighting the English, things were pretty bad then. I'm just not a pessimist.
Pam: Well, Diane, you can afford not to be.
Diane: Good things are happening, but they happen so slow we don't even notice them.
Pam: I still am seeing groups of whites get together to put stumbling blocks in front of blacks.
Diane: Oh, Pam, in 10 years more you and I will have kids and not even think about this. How many kids do you want? Tell me, how did you get engaged? What did your husband say—the exact words? I ask everyone....
Pam: Well, men disappointed me throughout high school....
Diane: Ohhh. That's cool, that's groovy....
Put these girls in their cheerleading uniforms, give them pompons and send them onto a football field or a basketball court in the Indiana town of Lafayette before thousands of excited fans who want to shout and sing for good old Purdue, and the "culture gap," as Pam King calls it, diminishes for three hours. Yet Pam King is still just a brief, black cloud in Purdue's cheerleading ethic, which comes down to Midwest Americana: Mary Sweet, Mark Jones and "Give me a P." Theirs is the simplest, oldest and most familiar form of cheerleading. Their goal is to rouse school spirit by exhorting the crowd, but they do not try to entertain. Purdue has a baton-twirling Golden Girl for that.
At Georgia, being a cheerleader is more rigorous, more time-consuming, more dangerous and more fun.
In many respects the University of Georgia mirrors the ways of the aristocratic Old South, its languid grace and courtliness. Negro retainers serve dinner under chandeliers in the antebellum sorority and fraternity houses on South Milledge Avenue. The university, chartered in 1785, retains an air of privilege. "This is a dress school," is how one undergraduate puts it. There is, in general, a well-bred, headstrong beauty about the Georgia girls, and one is reminded, strangely and suddenly, of Scarlett O'Hara.
A mild profanity, the hells and damns that mark a Southerner's conversation as Coca-Cola signs edge his highways, is characteristic of Georgia's cheers. "We yell 'damn good defense' or 'damn good coach,' " says Cheerleader Kerry Macris, the weight lifter who was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team. "During a game, if a train goes over the trestle near the stadium, we might yell 'damn good train.' The best damn cheer we've done was once this year when it was real hot. I saw this little bitty cloud moving in front of the sun so I called for a 'damn good cloud.' The whole crowd broke up." When a student group initiated a campaign recently to interest Georgia's students in their student government, it named the program "Give a Damn." The slogan is borrowed from The Urban Coalition, which uses it, in part, to attract whites to the black cause, but Georgia's students do not seem to be aware of that.
"This is a dull campus," says Butch Scott, editor of the twice-a-week student newspaper, The Red and Black. When the managing editor dropped out of school, Scott assumed his duties because no one really wanted the job. The apathy has become serious enough for school officials to hire a young woman to operate a viable student union, and last fall ministers on campus launched a program of their own called Thrust. "In effect, what the school is doing," Scott says, "is telling the students, 'Here is the ball. You can run with it if you want.' "
Georgia has an SDS chapter and an occasional incident. Last spring there was a two-day sit-in by 200 demonstrators in the Academic Building. They were agitating for women's rights, demanding that the women have no curfew and be allowed to drink in Athens, a privilege granted men. Following a student referendum, female equality was established. Then, several weeks ago, black Georgia students unfurled a banner at a football game that read "Bill Dooley [head football coach at the University of North Carolina] has black athletes. How about Vince [Georgia's head football coach]?" A scuffle followed, and white students tore the banner down. Campus police intervened. The sign was confiscated. End of incident.
If Georgia is a "dull campus" when it comes to various forms of student involvement, it is not dull socially or athletically, and its cheerleaders decidedly give a damn. They bring to a game and a crowd something of the flair exhibited by Georgia's most noted football player of recent times, Fran Tarkenton. For Georgia's girls, cheerleading is no mere wiggling of pompons, and for its boys a stern athletic endeavor is involved. All of the boy cheerleaders are members of the gymnastic team, and a prerequisite of making the squad is being able to do continuous backflips for 50 yards. All of the boys can backflip the length of a football field.
This unusually energetic approach to cheerleading began five years ago when the university, concerned about the physical fitness of its students, hired Lee Cunningham, a young gymnastics coach who had been All-America at Penn State and who had qualified for the 1960 U.S. Olympic team. Cunningham is slight, round-shouldered and looks like "before" in a bodybuilding ad (His students call him "Spider" but accord him the respect that they might a black widow.) One of the incidental duties given Cunningham was to be faculty adviser to the cheerleaders. At the time cheerleading was considered a "sissy" activity for boys. "The most athletic thing the boys did was to jump up and touch their toes with a bent leg," Cunningham says. "I decided to change that." He introduced tumbling and gymnast routines, and gradually the male cheerleaders began to acquire a far more vigorous image around campus. Cunningham now handpicks the boys onthe squad, and they consider themselves "real stud." So do some other people. "They are unbelievably masculine," coos one of the girl cheerleaders. "You should see them without their shirts."
Nor have the girls escaped Cunningham's attention. Coeds trying out for the squad are given three weeks training in tumbling and somersaulting off trampolines, sessions that have bruised many a Georgia peach. Cunningham then cuts the group of hopefuls to the most promising 10 to 15. These go to the cheerleading finals, which are held before 10,000 people in the Coliseum, Cunningham's theory being that there is nothing like a little hand-to-hand combat to reveal a girl's fighting spirit. A panel composed of four student-body officers and 10 faculty members—a physics or geology professor is usually included to assure an eclectic opinion—selects the winning six. Sororities and fraternities come to the finals en masse, providing vociferous and highly partisan cheering sections for candidates. The girls are judged on figure, face, poise, posture, individual cheering, group cheering, pep, voice and tumbling. "They are always nice to us during the try outs," a boycheerleader notes. "They have to work out with us in front of the judges, and we can make them look good or bad." After they have won a place on the squad, the girls sometimes are not as thoughtful. They may, for example, pay slightly less attention to their weight and become a handful to hoist. One of the present group is known, albeit affectionately, as Leadbottom.
As usual, the winners of the latest competition turned out to be the holders of numerous beauty titles. Last fall Cheerleader Debbie Giles represented Georgia tn the Miss Southeast Conference contest. Ann DeLong is the Athens Poultry Princess and three other cheerleaders are on the All-Campus Eleven, a group selected as "the most-rounded" girls at Georgia.
The élan of the squad is well expressed in its fleet of cars—GTOs, Mustangs, Camaros, a TR4 (it belongs to Head Cheerleader Macris, who keeps it locked in the university poultry barn) and an air-conditioned VW. Coach Cunningham cheerfully holds his own with a yellow Thunderbird convertible.
Unlike Purdue's more casual cheerleaders, Georgia's girls continue to go through a rough, demanding and invigorating training program after they are selected, and they take considerable pride in their performances. They have nightly practices doing flips, handsprings, cartwheels and splits as bare feet and aching backs thud against the wrestling mats in the Coliseum or on the grass outside. Their efforts have a rhythm of concentration and skill as their leader, Merman-voiced Linda Wood, calls out the cheers:
Rip 'em up
Tear 'em up
Give 'em hell, Georgia
"I'm sweating like a colored person," Mary Jo Mansour said, flopping on the floor after a recent practice. But, displeased with her performance—she had been turning her head to the side in flips off the trampoline—she made an appointment with Cunningham for an hour's coaching early the next morning. "That's all she will need," he said. "Sometimes a girl will begin to lose her nerve. You take her back to the beginning and run her through the fundamentals and she'll be fine again. I ask a lot of this group, the boys and the girls, and I think they have a great deal of pride in the things they have accomplished."
This season Georgia's football team and Cunningham's crew made it to the Sugar Bowl where, perhaps, the whole country could get a quick television glimpse of an Athens Poultry Princess.
But turn farther south now, deep south, down to Mississippi, where a cheerleader is likely to be a Miss America aspirant instead of a Poultry Princess, where becoming a cheerleader is a social-political activity and where the sweat is largely devoted to attaining the position, not performing in it.
How much it means to be a cheerleader at Ole Miss can be measured by the expense of getting elected. Though the university has a rule forbidding students from spending more than $75 per candidate on elections, "the vouchers are kinda juggled," a cheerleader explains. Presumably most of them are lost, because no boy or girl has a chance to win unless their represented fraternity or sorority spends at least $1,000. Billboards are plastered up—VOTE JOHNNY REBEL; KITTY HAY—DEDICATED DYNAMITE; WALTERINE'S SPIRIT MACHINE; YOU CAN BET ON BODIE. Cards are printed, athletes' endorsements sought, musical bandwagons roll from sorority house to fraternity house—in all, a fervor of political activity in the American-traditional mode.
"As a cheerleader you become known," one of the group explains. "It primes the students to vote for you in other elections. It is the biggest of all the campus elections."
The winners are not the most adept cheerleaders but the most popular students or the ones who put together the most powerful political machines. There are alliances between sororities and fraternities—"we'll vote for your candidate if you vote for ours." There are grudges—the Delta Gammas don't vote for Chi Omegas, it is said, because an elderly lady, a Chi Omega, owns the old house in Oxford where the Delta Gammas were founded. The woman refused to sell house and home to the DGs. There is block voting by women scorned. Sororities become jealous of girls who win too many honors. Spitefully, they vote for plain Janes. When Ole Miss comes up with a homely cheerleader, it is probably because she benefited handsomely by this ballot of dissent. Zetta Mae Bryant, a cheerleader who had been undefeated in campus elections and is considered sexy by the males at Oxford, is rumored to have been the victim of such a face-powder plot in the recent homecoming-queen election,which she lost to a write-in candidate.
After a week of enthusiastic speeches and relentless campaigning in March, the cheerleader candidates offer last-minute enticements—bubble gum, Cokes, cotton candy, chocolate footballs, Popsicles—to students as they cast their votes in a ballot box in front of The Grill. In Oxford the way to a man's vote seems to be through his stomach—the gut issue.
The current cheerleaders, four boys and four girls, were elected under tense circumstances. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the weekend before the scheduled election, and on the day prior to the voting a group of black Ole Miss students, 50 to 75 of them (there are about 100 in the student body of 6,000), marched in a solemn procession up a street where campaigning cheerleaders were promising voters such things as a free supply of Rebel flags. "We shall overcome," chanted the Negroes. "Black Power."
"There was a riot," says Johnny Morgan, who was campaigning as Johnny Rebel. "These kids will tell you there was no riot, because you're a Northern reporter, but I'll tell you there was. I was in there throwing eggs. After the march the niggers went to The Grill and spread all around instead of going in back and sitting down together. They'd sit at tables where there were couples. One guy turned over a table on a nigger and walked out. Man, I was a physical wreck. The election had been going just right, and we figured just how many cards we needed printed up, and then these niggers came down and the administration decided to dismiss classes. You couldn't find a soul around here. The election was postponed until after the Easter holidays. I had to go get more cards printed up."
After the effort and expense of winning, Ole Miss cheerleaders have been known to semiretire. Some have not shown up at bowl games until halftime. Last spring others refused to appear at basketball games because they could find more excitement elsewhere. But this year's cheerleaders are more devoted. They have four cheers instead of the previous two, and at a college cheerleading clinic held in July in Hattiesburg they won four ribbons and a spirit stick and were named the most improved group.
Nonetheless, Ole Miss will gladly leave the acrobatics to Georgia. What it likes to boast about are its parties and its beauties. The "Top Beauty"—a title won in another campus contest—is Jane Carol Foshee. She is a cheerleader and is being touted in Oxford as the next Miss America. "Jane Carol is not only beautiful outside but beautiful inside," sighs one coed. Ole Miss has its own entry in the Miss Mississippi contest, and twice its representative, Miss University, has gone on to be Miss America: Majorette Mary Ann Mobley won at Atlantic City in 1959 and Linda Lee Mead in 1960. While volleyball and tennis trophies captured by Ole Miss sororities are wedged away in bookcases, the beauty cups shine on the mantelpiece.
Not entirely coincidentally, Jane Carol Foshee belongs to Chi Omega, the sorority of the two previous Miss Americas. She received invitations from all 10 Ole Miss sororities on campus but felt "more at home" with the Chi Omegas. Though she is just 19, she is already a beauty-pageant veteran, having been Miss Hattiesburg High and Mississippi Junior Miss. Her rendition of Second Hand Rose, complete with an ostrich feather shawl and lace bloomers, has become increasingly polished.
Contesting with Jane Carol at beauty-conscious Ole Miss is Zetta Mae, the defeated homecoming queen candidate. Zetta Mae has been a cheerleader for three years and twice has been voted a "Favorite" in yet another campus election. "Zetta Mae is sexy," says Head Cheerleader Bodie Catlin. "She catches your eye real quickly. Jane Carol is the kind of girl you'd bring home to your mother."
It is pointed out with pride at Ole Miss that few beards are seen. "There are some strange guys in the art department," it is confessed, "but they are pseudo hippies." "The big thing here is to look cool and have a sharp date," says Johnny Morgan. "The college crowd, when they go to a game, don't want to yell. They don't want to blow their cool." But they do want to wave Rebel flags—the school provides $2,000 in the $5,000 cheerleader budget specifically for flags—and they do risk enough cool to belt out their favorite cheer:
Are you ready?
Who the hell are we?
Hey! Flim flam
What a shock it would be to Ole Miss students if they knew that another of their four cheers—
Whomp 'em up
Side o' the head
Whomp 'em up
Side o' the head
—is considered a "soul" cheer in the Southwest and as such represents a step toward the social-awareness movement in cheerleading. "Soul is the big thing in this part of the country," says Jim Hart, a former SMU cheerleader. "Soul cheers are often dialect cheers. It is amusing to hear crowds at Alabama and Ole Miss using them, but I suppose they are accepted naturally."
Hart is a cheerleading instructor working for the National Cheerleaders Association, which is based in Dallas. The NCA was begun in 1952 by Lawrence Herkimer, a cheerleader in the days of Doak Walker. Today Herkimer has a $1.25 million business selling cheerleading outfits, megaphones and pompons and running cheerleading and song-girl clinics in 43 states. Probably a quarter of today's cheerleaders have been to a Herkimer clinic at one time or another.
There have always been sectional variations in cheerleading, Herkimer says. The Big Ten and Ivy League schools are traditionalists. Illinois schools have been using the Indian-inspired
Oskee wa wa
Skini wa wa
since Lincoln won the big Blue-Gray Game at Gettysburg.
The junior colleges in California, having no tradition to build upon, have been the primary innovators of new cheers. "Four years ago in California they began making personality the prime consideration in cheerleading," Herkimer says. "Now they have moved into an era of specialization. There is a man on a mike, and he is an entertainer. Cheerleading has become show biz."
The soul cheers that are the fad in the Southwest came by way of California, but each place they arrive at seems to embellish them or present them in some new personalized form. The soul cheers have an infectious quality about them. During the opening game of the 1968 football season at the University of New Mexico, Sam Johnson, a Negro prelaw student, started leading soul cheers in the stands. Lobo students and the school's regular cheerleaders picked up his beat, and Sam was invited down front to lead cheers. He was careful not to compete with the regular cheering squad, but when fraternity groups in the stands would shout, "Give a yell, Sam," he would begin the leader-response chants that sound revivalist:
Sam: I got it.
Sam: You need it.
Sam: It's in mah eye (he points to his eye).
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Sam: It's in the sky.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Sam: It's on the roof.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Sam: Honest troof....
The variations and the length of the chant were almost limitless. The beat became faster and faster, and the cheer usually ended in hilarious confusion and a shout of "Our cool team, cool!"
In addition to their rhythm, soul cheers often have an extra-athletic message. The Lobos, for instance, have one that goes:
Leader: We got a letter from Headquarters.
Crowd: What did 'e say? What did 'e say?
Leader: We got a letter from Headquarters.
Crowd: What did 'e say? What did 'e say?
All: He said, "Hit to KILL, boys!"
He said, "Hit to KILL, boys!"
That rhetoric certainly goes a step farther than the usual destructive hyperbole of traditional football cheers.
But soul cheers are sometimes only nonsense sounds. At Oklahoma, where black athletes demanded and got a black cheerleader last season, soul is:
Aw, beep, beep
Aw, beep, beep
Aw, beep, beep
Chuck Cissel, the Negro cheerleader, adapted it from a black nationalist chant. Now sororities Aw, beep, beep for their supper, athletes Aw, beep, beep in the dorm and Sooners have Aw, beep, beeped at their weddings.
Lawrence Herkimer has started teaching soul cheers to America's daughters in his clinics across the country. Soon, one assumes, 15-year-olds from Boise to Bloomington to Bangor are going to be walking home in the evenings and startling their parents with:
We got soul
Now you get some.
In California, things come fast and go fast—even soul. On the California coast the best days of soul are gone, giving away to a strange combination of earnest social protest and high-camp hip. For a time the University of California at Berkeley had a head yell leader who won his office on an antiwar platform. More than 3,000 ballots were cast in the election, and Vietnik Jeff Sokol won by 1,100 votes over his nearest opponent. He was booed into quick retirement after two basketball games by Berkeley crowds that were understandably confused and annoyed by yells such as "End the War, End the War" and "Ban the Bomb."
The present yell leader, Robert Ellsburg, seized power in a reaction to Sokol. A 6'3", crew-cut varsity oarsman, he was revolted by what "that long-hair" (Sokol) was doing to the yell-leading image, so he and some fraternity brothers and oarsmen staged a coup d'esprit. "We told Sokol we were taking over," he says. "I have a hunch he was happy to take a hike."
The new group bases its cheers on a more universally accepted theme than peace, sex. "You've got to give them something risqué," Ellsburg says. He hired a topless dancer for a pregame rally. She wore a Cal sweater and was supposed to have a bikini beneath. When she whipped off the sweater—no bikini. The crowd was delighted, Ellsburg was astonished and authorities were aghast. But, since topless dancers are dished up for breakfast with your eggs and bacon in San Francisco, this hardly amounted to a cause cél√®bre. Ellsburg's cheers, however, would stir maiden ladies in Des Moines—or even Nob Hill. His "Give me an S, Give me an E," etc., gets the mind off the game if Cal is losing. Another cheer, "Root, Root, Root," has less to do with school spirit than one might think, and though Ellsburg's spoof of USC's Trojans draws howls of laughter in a stadium filled with people, it would only draw howls in a family magazine. Perhaps to mollify some of theolder Berkeley alumni, Ellsburg has another kind of cheer, one his grandmother would think cute: What was Calvin Coolidge's first name? C-A-L!
Four hundred miles south of Berkeley is UCLA, the last stop, the today stop or even the tomorrow stop on any tour of cheerleading capitals. At UCLA cheerleading is viewed as a mass medium, an important means of communication on a sprawling commuter campus. It is a stage for testing both people and ideas.
Less than a year after the Watts riots, a flamboyant, quick-witted black, Eddie Anderson, sought and won the office of head yell leader, knowing he could use the medium for his message on race relations. "It is easily the most influential position on campus," he explains. "It is even more influential than student body president, because you can reach so many more people. This, at the time I ran for head yell leader, was a chance to shoot my best shot."
Anderson grew up in Cambridge, Mass., attended The Loomis School in Connecticut, entered UCLA at 16 and now, six years later, is a dynamic, personable and popular figure on campus. He is studying for a philosophy degree, is active in student affairs and politics and was a member of California's delegation to the Democratic convention.
Anderson's deepest concern is equality for black people, which he believes should be achieved, in the words of Stokely Carmichael, "by any means necessary," even if it meant, as it did for Anderson, running for head yell leader at UCLA. Anderson's cheerleading approach was satire.
"Our team was composed of five chocolate chips and one vanilla snap," Anderson says, "and everybody remembered us that way. You know, sorta token integration." He introduced soul yells and soul dancing to the accompaniment of a drummer who hammered out a rock 'n' roll beat. He did parodies on erstwhile pop and soul songs. In protest of the Vietnam war he sang Bomb Around the Clock, a takeoff on the Bill Haley hit. When the Bruin team played Penn State, Anderson and his squad changed it to State Penn and came to the game attired as convicts.
There was criticism by the administration and alumni of some of the yells. At one game Anderson dedicated a cheer to all the white girls who'd been dating black guys at UCLA. "O.K.," he shouted into the mike, "give me a big 'Spooks, Rah' on 2...."
He made up the popular Bruin chant: Bruin Hair Is Everywhere. When a referee called a penalty against the UCLA team, Anderson likened this to the ref shaving the Bruin. "We'd retaliate with a yell like, 'Oh, Schick!' "recalls Anderson, "and naturally we got called on the carpet. We changed it to 'Oh, Gillette!' It caused so much commotion I got a complimentary razor set from both Schick and Gillette. The next game I felt like yelling, 'Oh, Cadillac!' "
The UCLA student body is liberal (a girl asked by a friend about a boy may say, "He's great-looking, with dark curly hair," but she will never say he is black) and was ready for Anderson's innovations, but some visiting schools were not. Once at a basketball game a woman cheering for Duke became incensed and obscene when Anderson danced with one of UCLA's blonde song girls. "She was giving me a bad time," Anderson says, "so I stopped everything and went to the mike and said, 'This woman is trying to be heard, but we can't hear what she's saying through her white sheet.' "
Soul was right for UCLA two years ago but it would be wrong in 1968, Anderson believes. "The blacks and whites are more polarized now," he explains. "In 1966 we were on a more common ground. But not now—not when 14% of the people voted for George Wallace. There's no way you can put these things in a humorous light now."
This year UCLA voted for high-camp amusement—and cheers—from a head yell leader who wears a hippie hairdo, love beads and a Girl Scout badge. Geoff Cooper is hip but not a hippie. He is a talented television major who created and affects a character named Engineer Geoff—"If you love milk, apple pie, mother and the flag, you'll love the Old Engineer." It is steam power instead of Black Power.
In his campaign speeches Engineer Geoff promised to bring back all the old traditions that never were. "Geoff is just plain folks," his handbills read. "He appreciates a sunrise. He walks in beauty. Geoff Cooper is a man reaching out for a star."
He has modeled cheers on Peter Pan and Humpty-Dumpty. One of his favorites is:
Ki-ri ki-ri ki rickety bim!
Come out of the forest!
Sandpaper your chin!
We're sharp as a tack!
Go ye Bruins!
Rack, rack, rack!
"He was elected because he is a put-down to the normal cheerleader," says Mike Levett, editor of the Daily Bruin. "Geoff sought and got the apathetic vote. He was funny and different. The role of a cheerleader here has become one of entertainer. You have to be witty and have rapport with your audience. You talk, kid, tell jokes. Possibly the weakest part of Geoff's repertoire is his cheers." It was right in character for him to call on 80,000 people in the Coliseum to holler:
Peanuts, popcorn, onion soup
We want a touchdown
Last winter Cooper and another TV major, Lloyd Schwartz, decided to test themselves—were they savvy and sharp enough to make it in the entertainment industry? "We wanted to see if we could work together," Lloyd says. "We were completely withdrawn from the power structure of the school. Geoff was unknown on campus. We decided to run him for head yell leader."
Cooper and Schwartz settled on the theme of the old engineer—the locomotive was so out it had to be in. Last May, in custom-made blue-and-gold coveralls, Cooper opened his campaign on Election Walk. "The first day I tried to give away handbills, but no one would take them," he says. "The next day Lloyd and I began chanting, 'Pornography, sex.' That helped." Cooper became a campus phenomenon. At noon students would gather to listen to an hour-long show of wit and patter from the Old Engineer. At other times he would sit in a red rocker, his Borden belly, as he calls it, protruding like Santa Claus'. "Come up in my lap and tell me your problems," he would say to coeds.
To the consternation of such authoritarian souls as Football Coach Tommy Prothro, he was elected. However, after he came to know Cooper, Prothro began to feel better. "You don't fit my stereotyped image of a hippie," he once said to Cooper. They are friends now, though one of the most popular skits in the yell leader's repertoire is a devastating satire of Prothro's TV show.
"I have to use innocence to combat my hippie image," Cooper says. "Because of my long hair I am supercareful about the things we do. My only political cheer is the one that I call my nonviolent yell:
Lean to the left
Lean to the right
We use wholesome humor. I tell them not to gulp their milk and not to boo. Engineer Geoff's express is steel wheels rolling along on steel tracks, clickety clack, clickety clack, down that track to victory."
Before the crowd, Cooper applies theories he is learning in an audience-analysis course. His theatrical approach to cheerleading has led to the custom of guest appearances at halftime. At the season's first game a UCLA alumnus (class of 1937) sang a fight song he had written. It was to have been a love song when he began the composition several years ago, but it developed into something called Fight, Fight Bruin Baby. At the Penn State game Pat Paulsen appeared at halftime, running for President, and he got his laughs with a script written by Schwartz. Once Quarterback Bill Bolden's mother was to have led half-time cheers, but did not when her son was injured early in the game.
At UCLA school spirit is not a valid concept outside of the Coliseum or Pauley Pavilion, where Lew Alcindor plays. If it is not convenient to get involved in pep rallies, the students stay away. UCLA has been called Berkeley with mothers—a student doesn't grow a beard because he lives at home and his mother tells him, "You're not going to school looking like that!" Motorcycles and cars fill concrete acres and triple-deck garages. "The university has become awfully irrelevant," says Mike Levett of the Daily Bruin. "Kids are concerned with being, as I put it, communitarian. They are concerned with getting the university into the ghettos. To thrust it there. It is irrelevant to ask what are the issues on campus. There are only community issues."
Fraternities, which are the spirit organizations elsewhere, are breaking down in California. (At Berkeley only 519 of 4,303 new students pledged the school's 58 houses this year.) The song girls at UCLA do not wear sorority pins because they feel teaching assistants will hold membership against them and their marks may be affected. Though they are widely imitated at other schools, UCLA's seven song girls are by no means celebrities on their own campus.
"We are recognized on a national scale more than locally," says Head Song Girl Sue Conwell. After out-of-town appearances they receive fan letters addressed to "the tall brown-haired song girl on the end of the line," or "the blonde with the pony tail."
On campus the song girls have been called Lawrence Welk's bubble machines. "You have to be uninhibited," says Karen Keyes. "It is not natural for you to smile that much when you get to college."
The girls practice in groups throughout the summer (three are from the Bay Area, four from Los Angeles) and put in 25 hours of intensive drill in the first two weeks back on campus. After that workouts are limited to two hours a week. Using nine basic routines, with such names as Squat, Squirrely, Happy Toes, Stretchy and Kicky, they improvise according to the beat of the music being played by the band.
Two. of the UCLA song girls, redhead Jeannie Wallace, a premed student, and Linda Kako, who is majoring in elementary education, are holders of AFTRA cards and appear each weekend on national television on the All-American College Show. For this they are paid $145 a week.
"These are the worst-looking song girls we have ever had," Mike Levett says, and one of the yell leaders calls them "kinda stuffed shirt. I suppose they feel they must maintain a certain level of dignity. There is the tradition of song girl at UCLA, and they must live up to it. They are regimented and don't want to change their routines."
Sue Conwell says of the criticism, "We don't want to change our image. Most students seem satisfied with what we are now. We get 10 letters a week from high schools, junior colleges and universities—Ball State, Purdue, Oregon, Stanford, San Diego State, Miami—asking us for information." The girls are probably right in their desire not to change and in their belief that their national status is assured. Radio City's Rockettes still look good to a lot of people after 36 years, and UCLA's song girls are more chorines than cheerleaders.
What is the future of cheerleading? One should reflect on the words of a coed from Kansas, Nancy Ensch, a sophomore who worked in Robert Kennedy's campaign. "I am putting all my spare time into what I consider more important and meaningful things," she says. "Any student has only so much time. She must make a choice of what she wants to do outside of the classroom. You can be a nothing. You can go into a sorority. You can make cheerleader or the pompon squad. You can work on the yearbook. Or you can try to do something that might be more meaningful. I am working for Student Voice here at Kansas, a group that is pushing for more autonomy in academic affairs. That's my thing."
Nancy Ensch's attitude, the search for the meaningful, is still in the minority on America's campuses. Sweetie and Linda and Zetta Mae have their thing, which is cheerleading, and in lots of places their thing is the thing. But what is happening in the Southwest, in California and particularly with Eddie Anderson and now Geoff Cooper at UCLA, seems to suggest some future trends in cheerleading and other aspects of U.S. campus life.
"How big is the Big Game?" Eddie Anderson asks. "How big is it when, during the other six days in the week, there is the Big Draft, the Big War and the Big Election? We need to have the kids identify with something more than just the football team. Being rah-rah for the football team is not going to get that identity. But being rah-rah for new programs will. Sometimes cheerleading can combine the two."
It can, indeed, but it's a long rocky way from "Give Me a P" to "Bruin Hair Is Everywhere." And, if cheerleading became all social consciousness, what would the poor University of Hawaii do with such a semi-old-fashioned favorite as:
Banana, guava, passion fruit,
Give that ball a great big boot.