Everybody can’t be a cheerleader. It seems that a good officer for a battalion of yellpers has to be born (as they say) and not made.
By that, we don’t mean to imply that if you can’t turn handsprings, cartwheels, and other assorted spine-twisting gymnastics, you won’t be able to lead a good cheer. Gymnastic talent is a big help, to be sure, but it’s not a necessity.
And Norwood has about the best cheerleaders in the business. They are Robert Pike, Helen Zuke, Margaret Davol, Capt. Kay Meissner, Dorothy Pendergast, Louise Gustafson and Shafie Boulis.
Experts generally agree that any cheerleader must possess at least the four following qualifications: First of all, he must have a pleasant, likable personality that will enable him to lead a crowd Second, he should have a voice that will carry well, so that those in the bleachers will be able to hear him easily. Third, he must understand and be able to feel the rhythm, so that his cheers will be well-timed and have a snap to them. And, finally, he must know how to handle a crowd.
Nobody, of course, will follow a “deadpan” or a grouch. ‘Unless you have a little enthusiasm and pleasantness about you—enough to conduct everyday affairs on a friendly basis—you’d better take up checkers or ping-pong instead of cheerleading. If people like you, half the battle’s won. But if they don’t like you, you might as well try to get the Sphinx to give out with a rousing “Brekekekex.”
A carrying voice doesn’t necessarily mean a loud one. Carefully pronounced words will be easier for the crowd to hear than jumbled phrases, no matter how lustily they are shouted. (If you have a group Of cheerleaders, find out which one’s voice carries the best and let him do all the announcing.)
Rhythm Is Important
Just as rhythm and timing are important in sports or dancing, so are they necessary in cheering. If you can get the crowd to “feel” the cheer, it’ll be twice as effective. Never lead a cheer while the teams are in action or when your opponents are cheering. That’s not only poor timing, it’s poor sportsmanship as well!
The most important item in a cheerleader’s list of talents, however, is his ability to handle a crowd. This requires a lot of practice and experience. You can’t learn it in a day or by reading an article —even this one. But you’ll learn faster if you guard against a few common faults:
Never “get tough’.’ with a crowd. Ordering an audience to do, or not to do, something is practically as futile as trying to stop rain from falling. Crowds, just won’t be bossed. They must be led. Remember that!
It’s also a very poor policy to try to shame people into cheering by telling them that it’s their “duty to the school and the team.”
Showing off very seldom has much effect on an audience, either. Skip it unless you can do it in an entertaining manner—and few people can.
Here are a few suggestions on how to get better results from a crowd :
Organizing your cheering section not only makes for better yells, but also gives you an opportunity to do tricks with cards and other devices. Make it a bit exclusive to give it spirit. Have all the members decide to wear the same color clothing, so that you’ll have a color, ful background for your tricks. It will be easier to arrange designs for your card tricks if you have an even number of participants. And don’t forget to have practice for the organization as often as possible.
Arousing a spirit of competition in the audience is also a good trick. This may be done by using split yells, or by dividing the crowd into sections and having each section give the yell separately before the entire group lets it go.
In this connection, I distinctly remember an incident that occurred when I was in high school. The entire student body was gathered j in the auditorium for a pep rally —but it was anything but peppy. For almost a half hour, two different groups of cheerleaders had practically worked themselves into a frenzy trying to get the listless- crowd to cheer, but they hadn’t had much luck.
I was sitting with the rest of the sophomore boys at the back of the auditorium, under the balcony. We were calmly reading funny books and talking about the coming football contest. Suddenly our biology teacher—a little short fellow—came around behind us and said, “C’mon, you fellows, let’s show them how to yell.”
It took us about two minutes to get organized, but then we let go with a yell that made the rest of the auditorium sound like a noiseless typewriter next to a boiler factory.
That was a challenge to the rest of the audience, who proceeded to try to drown us out. Before we knew it, the auditorium was rocking with the loudest cheers it had ever heard.
Our teacher had exercised two -of the important tricks of a good cheerleader: he had led us by saying “Let’s Show them” (instead of “You fellows ought to cheer”) and had aroused the competitive spirit of the whole audience by getting one portion of it to yell.
We don’t have space enough here to discuss many other points in the technique of leading cheers—like confidence, gymnastic ability and coordination—but you’ll find yourself catching on to them unconsciously once you’ve mastered the fundamentals.