Cheerleading has come a long way since it first began in the late 1800s! While some chants have remained the same for almost 140 years, the cheer wear has evolved considerably! We’ve compiled our five favorite historical cheer facts that every cheerleader should know.

1. Did you know that cheerleading started out as an all-male activity? These male students created special cheering sections at football practices and games – something that schools and universities still do to this day! The University of Minnesota is credited with the first squad of six male students that they called the “yell leaders.” These male students didn’t have cheerleading uniforms like we do today, but the chants they directed remain the same!

2. It wasn’t until 1923 that women were permitted to participate in cheerleading. The University of Minnesota was the first to allow female members, but most schools did not include female members until the 1940s. As collegiate men started to be drafted for World War II, women took the spotlight on the sidelines. Their cheerleading apparel consisted of long pleated skirts and colorful sweaters!

3. The herkie jump was invented in 1948 by Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer. Herkimer contributed to many firsts to cheerleading, including the first National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) clinic in Huntsville, Texas. He also created the Spirit Stick which has changed very little since it’s origin.

4. The Baltimore Colts had the first recorded professional cheer squad for the newly formed National Football League (NFL). Professional cheerleaders put a new perspective on American cheerleading. Professional squads were exclusively female, and were first widely seen in Super Bowl X in 1976. Cheerleading kids outfits were created for young girls to show support their favorite team. These professional squads gained so much popularity, they expanded to soccer and basketball teams as well!

5. The first National High School Cheerleading Championship was created in 1980. This lead to a wave of competitions across the U.S. as well as other countries! Cheerleading clothes and accessories expanded beyond school sideline apparel and became more athletic.

What cheerleading historical is your favorite? Leave a comment to let us know more historical cheerleading facts!