Cheerleading History- 1948-1961

Welcome back to our series, Cheerleading History, where we look at the history of cheerleading and how it has shaped the sport as we know it today.

This week, we will be looking at cheerleading between 1948 and 1961


Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer is credited with creating what is considered to be modern-day cheerleading. He started “… his cheerleading career at North Dallas High School and later Southern Methodist University…” in Texas. In 1948, Herkimer “… was requested to introduce a “cheerleading clinic” in the state of Texas at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College…” which is now refered to as Sam Houston State University. These clinics were a huge success, especially to those who were already interested in cheerleading. “Herkie went on to develop his signature “Herkie” jump, the spirit stick, the “pom pon” (also called “shakeroos” in that time)…” all elements that are still used today in the sport of cheerleading. Herkimer also trained “Separate cheerleading pom pon teams (also termed “Cheerdance”)…” which started to develop their own sport on the sidelines as well. These pom pon teams are now what we refer to as Pom teams, or sideline dance teams.


Cheerleading continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1950’s in America. “By the 1960s, cheerleading could be found in virtually every high school and grade school across the USA, as well as pee wee and youth leagues everywhere in the country. In 1961, Herkimer incorporated the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) and conducted cheerleading camps, and clinics to hundreds of thousands of cheerleaders all around the United States.”   NCA remains a powerhouse in the cheerleading industry to this day, with summer camps, College, High School and All Star National Competitions that draw thousands of participants from across the nation each year.

Sadly, Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer passed away on July 1st, 2015. He will always be remembered for his contributions to the sport of cheerleading and his ingenuity to help create such an amazing sport that thousands of people participate in daily.

Next week we will look at cheerleading more in-depth between 1974 and 1982.

Check out all of the articles in this series here:


Before 1898

This article contains information from, The International Cheer Union website. Please visit their website for more historical information or other cheerleading related information.


History of Cheerleading. (n.d.). Retrieved September 8, 2015, from