|Where Cheerleading Began
|University sports officials give credit to Johnny Campbell, a late 19th century Gopher student for
starting the tradition of cheerleading. Campbell was apparently drawn to action by an editorial that
appeared in the school paper after the Gophers had become mired in a three-game losing streak. The
paper pleaded for someone to "stir up enthusiasm for athletics .... " Later in that 1898 season, the first
official cheers rang out.
Campbell and his "yell leaders" made their debut in a game against Northwestern and stirred enough
emotions to help propel the Gophers to a 17-6 victory. And while the tight sweaters, and short skirts
that many football fans adore would come later, the true origins of cheerleading began on that
Minnesota fall afternoon.
Prior to the advent of cheerleading by Minnesota student body members, two rugby players developed
a team cheer in 1884 that still rings loud in the schools two official songs. The word "Ski", a Sioux
battle cry meaning victory was combined with "U-Mah" which represented Minnesota while rhyming
well with "rah-rah-rah".