The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Texas is big hair and football. We have all seen those teen football movies about the young man from Texas trying to win the big game, and his cheerleader girlfriend cheering him on from the sidelines… Football in Texas is big, but cheerleading is not just for the sidelines anymore. Cheerleading has hit the mainstream: huge competitive, All Star leagues and companies all over the country exist for cheerleaders to join, show off their skills, and compete at the highest level. Cheerleading may have not have started in Texas, but Texas has played a major role in cheerleading history, helping it become the sport it is today.

Cheerleading originated with groups of people called ‘yell squads’, who hyped up audiences at football games in the late 1800’s. Johnny Campbell is documented as the first person to organize a cheerleading team at the University of Minnesota in 1898, and to many, that event is considered the birth of organized cheerleading. All cheerleading teams were comprised of men until the 1920’s, when women started to join the sport; they did not officially takeover the sport until the 1950’s due to the onset of World War II. If it was not for Lawrence Herkimer, cheerleading would not be what is today. It all comes back to Dallas, Texas: where Lawrence Herkimer created the NCA, the National Cheerleading Association, in 1948.

The NCA was what channeled cheerleading into the limelight. The NCA founded and organized the first cheer clinic, created a cheerleading supply company, created new cheer moves (the Herkie, for one), patented pom-poms, and created the coveted spirit stick. Without the founding of the NCA, cheerleading might not have ever become a popular activity. Due to cheerleading’s popularity, cheer competitions started to form across the country. Modern cheerleading is in large part thanks to Lawrence Herkimer, and the town of Dallas, Texas–where it all started. It is no surprise that citizens of Texas are huge into cheerleading, considering cheer history alone.

Dallas is known for cheerleading, and we cannot talk about Dallas without bringing up the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders! The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders may have not been the first professional football cheerleading squad (the Philadelphia Eagles had the first team), but they quickly escalated to be the most popular. Today, the Dallas cheer team has more Facebook followers than any other professional NFL cheers squad, and they alone bring in more then a million dollars per year to the NFL franchise. Sounds like they a due for a raise! Cheerleading in Texas is HUGE, and cheerleading is no longer just a sideline sport because of it–cheerleaders are now up front, center staged competitive athletes! With the formation of the NCA in Texas, the birthplace of modern cheerleading, it is no wonder cheerleading is bigger and better in Texas.

What else comes to mind when you consider cheerleading in Texas? Are you a Texas cheerleader? Share your story in the comments!