The first official cheer to ever be performed was in 1884 at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.
A member of the audience, Mark Peebles who witnessed the power cheer had on rousing the crowd and supporting the team decided to introduce the cheer to the University of Minnesota. There a student named Johnny Campbell, known as the first official cheerleader, embraced the cheering concept wholeheartedly and soon after organized a complete cheer squad. Although originally developed as a man’s sport, cheerleading transitioned into primarily a woman’s sport in the early 1920s when women began joining as cheerleaders due to most of the men at the time leaving to fight in World War II.
Since that time cheerleading has become more than just a group of enthusiastic people cheering on a team and motivating a crowd. Instead, cheerleading has developed into groups of elite athletes performing and competing world-wide through tumbling, dance, clap, cheer and gymnastic style routines.
One such up athlete is Destinee Hennemann, an eighth grader from Shasta School who is joyfully developing her skills as a cheerleader through Manteca Junior Buffaloes Youth Football and Cheer —an organization, which is geared toward teaching the fundamentals of football and cheer in addition to developing team work, fair play and overall good character in the youth.
Destinee’s interest in cheerleading started years ago when she would go to her brothers’ football games and support him from the stands, while at the same time watching her best friend cheer with the cheer squad for the team. After a period of time Destinee decided she didn’t want to just support her brother from the stands but she wanted to support him as a cheerleader for the team. She took the plunge and tried out for the Manteca Junior Buffaloes cheer squad.
“About 15 girls tried out. I had to make up my own routine, and show my tumbling skills. I was very nervous not knowing if I would make the team or not,” she recalled.
Destinee’s willingness to try despite feeling nervous earned her a spot on the cheer team which she has now been cheering for the last four years. Loving the sport and wanting to expand her skills Destinee also tried out for the Manteca Junior Buffaloes elite competition squad and again made the team.
The elite squad competed in several competitions in various places such as at the University of Pacific, Cow Palace in San Francisco and the Capital in Sacramento. Through their success the team qualified for the JAMZ National Cheer competition held in Las Vegas earlier this year in which they took 1st place.
“Coming home and seeing my team on the front page of the paper was very exciting and made me proud,” Destinee said.
When asked what she enjoys most about cheerleading Destinee replied, “My favorite part about cheer is the relationships you make. Your squad becomes your family. Of course stunting is awesome and being on the field supporting the football players is a big plus. I take a lot of pride in my team and it’s just as exciting for me when the boys win as it is for them.”
As with any sport, the sport of cheerleading does have its challenges. The strenuous practice and conditioning cheerleaders go through in order to master their routines is hard work and just like the players they support, occasionally sprained ankles, stitches and injuries can occur.
However for Destinee, the pros of cheering her team to victory, building an extended family and gaining confidence and skills far outweigh any of the cons.
Over 130 years after the first official cheer young people like Destinee are giving it all they’ve got to support their team and make cheer history.
For information about Manteca Junior Buffaloes Youth Football and Cheer visit www.mantecajrbuffs.com or call (209) 565-3548.