Skip to main content
Original Issue

ONCE IT WAS ONLY SIS-BOOM-BAH!

But now vocal empathy is the kick as collegiate cheerleaders turn on everything from familiar neoclassic fight chants to libidinous exhortation, high-camp hip and unsanctified soul

Give me a P
Give me a U
Give me a R
Give me a D
Give me a U
Give me a E

Who are the cheerleaders?

An Indiana farm boy living off the fat of prairie land—hogs pay for his blue Thunderbird.

A black militant with a Mao suit and a "natural"—"That's right baby, I'm for Wallace. He calls a spade a spade. If he ever got elected, we'd have a civil war. A lot of people would leave this country, but I'd stay 'round for the fight."

Two bits
Four bits
Six bits
A dollar
All for Georgia
Stand up and holler

The cheerleaders?

A weight lifter who was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team—"They had sissy boys before as cheerleaders. Now it's real stud."

An Athens Poultry Princess, lank-haired and blonde.

Are you ready?
H-E-L-L Y-E-S
D-A-M-N R-I-G-H-T
Hoddy toddy
God almighty
Who the hell are we?
Hey! Flim flam
Bim bam
Ole Miss
By damn

The cheerleaders?

A son of an Oxford, Miss, laundryman, "Johnny Rebel," furiously waving a Confederate flag. He spent $1,000 getting himself elected.

Miss Hattiesburg High '67, National Sweetheart of Theta Kappa Omega, Mississippi Junior Miss, Ole Miss Top Beauty, Miss America hopeful.

Leader: I got it.
Crowd: What?
Leader: You need it.
Crowd: What?
Leader: It's in mah eye.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Leader: It's in the sky.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Leader: It's on the roof.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Leader: Honest troof.
Our cool team, cool!

The cheerleader?

A black, finger-snapping, swinging prelaw student at New Mexico whose big beat is soul sounds.

Give me an S
Give me an E
Give me an X
What do we want?
S-E-X

The cheerleader?

A crew-cut varsity oarsman at Berkeley—"It's our version of the old 'Give-me-six-for-a-touchdown' cheer. You've got to have something risqué these days."

Lean to the left
Lean to the right
Stand up
Sit down

The cheerleader?

UCLA's put-on hippie—love beads, Galahad locks and mauve granny glasses. He calls it his nonviolent cheer.

This cacophony of modern stadium music is in its way a microcosm of college youth today. It reflects the country's diverse cultures—Midwest traditional, Southern aristocrat, Mississippi red-neck, California showboat—and its disparate ideals, concerns, goals, politics and prejudices. The attitudes behind the cheers are passed on from class to class and generation to generation like the family silver, with some of the qualities being sterling and a few rather tarnished. So fundamentally different are the cheers—and attitudes—of various representative universities that one wonders, in the last analysis, how a Purdue and UCLA, for example, can ever stand across a field and shout at each other.

The legacy at Purdue, the inheritance handed down, is one of clean living and hard work. "This is the last bastion of common sense," an assistant director of admissions at Purdue declares forthrightly. "The parents of our students don't want their sons and daughters going to institutions like Columbia, Berkeley and Antioch. Our students are here to learn a profession. They are not trying to solve the problems of the world. That can wait for another day. They don't have time for that hanky-panky. They think about calculus and chemistry, not 'I should do this' or 'I should do that' for philosophic reasons. Those are subversive groups at Berkeley and Columbia."

Purdue is as level-headed as a crew-cut, and the assistant director's assessment is borne out, and even typified by, Purdue's cheerleaders—though the specter of a disordered world began to arise last year. "Our kids are not activists," says the administration adviser to cheerleaders, Dean Virgil Miller. "If they are taking 18 hours of engineering they don't have time. It is the liberal arts students that are behind the occasional demonstrations here." It was one such demonstration that presented Dean Miller with some trying moments and led to the integration of the cheerleaders. Representation on the squad was one of several demands made by Black Student Action Committee agitators last spring. Purdue had 16 Negro football players, including the famous Leroy Keyes and two starting linemen who—at an average weight of 261—loomed large on the campus landscape. So the request was not surprising. Nor were the athletes directly involved. "I don't think ourathletes have any of the problems that you hear about at other places," Dean Miller says. "I happen to be doing my doctorate on the history of the Negro at Purdue. I haven't talked to any of the athletes yet but I don't think—in fact, I'd say categorically—that none of those things happen."

Before the demonstration a panel that included Dean Miller, two members of the campus Pep Committee and three of last year's cheerleaders had selected five boys and five girls as cheerleaders for 1968. All were members of sororities or fraternities. The system tends to be self-perpetuating. A graduating cheerleader coaches and promotes a sorority sister or fraternity brother. Sororities gain prestige by having a member on the cheering squad; it is supposed to be excellent evidence that the house is high-spirited and involved in campus activities. The Kappa Alpha Thetas, which at Purdue are "the better-class girls," according to Cheerleader Captain Mark Jones, had a cheerleading monopoly two years ago; four of the five girls on the squad were sorority sisters.

One of this year's Thetas, Mary Sweet—Sweetie to her friends—has been a cheerleader for three years and now heads the girls. In her purse she carries a splinter from a 1967 Rose Bowl goalpost. The cheerleaders traveled west for the game on a student train—their most memorable locomotive—and Sweetie has an album of snapshots showing them in places like Las Vegas and Denver, sightseeing in their cheerleader sweaters and doing Fight-Purdue-Fight routines in railroad stations.

Her male counterpart, Mark Jones, is the blond farmer's son who drives a Thunderbird. He worked in Chicago last summer but he did not particularly enjoy it. "I like the conservative life," he says. "I'm comfortable in it. I stayed away from Grant Park. Those hippies deserved what they got. The last two years the whole campus has been aware of this other element. People from larger cities are bringing in ideas. My idea is if they don't like the conservative atmosphere here they don't have to come." Were the majority of Purdue students as conservative as he? Jones was asked. "Yes," he said. "The political sentiment was for Wallace. He spoke out and told the truth, not lies."

Given their conservatism, the sorority girls and fraternity boys had to do considerable soul-searching—under administrative pressure—before agreeing to admit two Negroes arbitrarily to the squad. Neither girl, it was pointed out, had earned the right to be on the squad; they had not taken part in the regular cheerleader tryouts. The school administration, it was felt, was applying a principle of forced integration.

After much discussion, the cheerleaders agreed to accept the two blacks, Pam Ford and Pam King, though reluctantly. Pam Ford is the daughter of a Winston-Salem, N.C. milkman ("Oh, I've been telling everyone your father picked tobacco," Mary Sweet remarked one night) and is far from being a militant. Pam King, who has a brother at Dartmouth, is the stepdaughter of an East Chicago, Ind. welder and the wife of Charlie King, a quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals. She is regarded uneasily on campus as an instigator of the Black Student Action group demonstration. Without doubt she lacks the grace and coordination to be a good cheerleader. "I had a purpose in wanting to become a cheerleader here," she says. "I saw it as a sign, a good omen, that Purdue could have black people on the squad. And I thought it would give me an opportunity to be close enough to a group of white people to sort of help them when they were being bigoted."

Her presence on the squad may or may not have led to many meaningful exchanges. Consider the following give-and-take, which occurred in a car carrying the cheerleaders to the Northwestern game last fall. Pam King was in the front seat attired in a Mao pants suit that militates against everything and everyone in West Lafayette, Ind. Her hair is "natural." In the back seat was blonde, green-eyed Diane Teder, an active Lafayette girl scout until she was a senior in high school. A Dow Chemical truck passes by.

Pam: Ah, man's inhumanity to man.... People around you tell you, 'Don't try. Forget about it.'

Diane: I think too many people in this world are pessimists. I think things are getting better.

Pam: What's going on that's good?

Diane: Well, Purdue beat Notre Dame last week (giggle). Let's see some optimism. When we were fighting the English, things were pretty bad then. I'm just not a pessimist.

Pam: Well, Diane, you can afford not to be.

Diane: Good things are happening, but they happen so slow we don't even notice them.

Pam: I still am seeing groups of whites get together to put stumbling blocks in front of blacks.

Diane: Oh, Pam, in 10 years more you and I will have kids and not even think about this. How many kids do you want? Tell me, how did you get engaged? What did your husband say—the exact words? I ask everyone....

Pam: Well, men disappointed me throughout high school....

Diane: Ohhh. That's cool, that's groovy....

Put these girls in their cheerleading uniforms, give them pompons and send them onto a football field or a basketball court in the Indiana town of Lafayette before thousands of excited fans who want to shout and sing for good old Purdue, and the "culture gap," as Pam King calls it, diminishes for three hours. Yet Pam King is still just a brief, black cloud in Purdue's cheerleading ethic, which comes down to Midwest Americana: Mary Sweet, Mark Jones and "Give me a P." Theirs is the simplest, oldest and most familiar form of cheerleading. Their goal is to rouse school spirit by exhorting the crowd, but they do not try to entertain. Purdue has a baton-twirling Golden Girl for that.

At Georgia, being a cheerleader is more rigorous, more time-consuming, more dangerous and more fun.

In many respects the University of Georgia mirrors the ways of the aristocratic Old South, its languid grace and courtliness. Negro retainers serve dinner under chandeliers in the antebellum sorority and fraternity houses on South Milledge Avenue. The university, chartered in 1785, retains an air of privilege. "This is a dress school," is how one undergraduate puts it. There is, in general, a well-bred, headstrong beauty about the Georgia girls, and one is reminded, strangely and suddenly, of Scarlett O'Hara.

A mild profanity, the hells and damns that mark a Southerner's conversation as Coca-Cola signs edge his highways, is characteristic of Georgia's cheers. "We yell 'damn good defense' or 'damn good coach,' " says Cheerleader Kerry Macris, the weight lifter who was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic team. "During a game, if a train goes over the trestle near the stadium, we might yell 'damn good train.' The best damn cheer we've done was once this year when it was real hot. I saw this little bitty cloud moving in front of the sun so I called for a 'damn good cloud.' The whole crowd broke up." When a student group initiated a campaign recently to interest Georgia's students in their student government, it named the program "Give a Damn." The slogan is borrowed from The Urban Coalition, which uses it, in part, to attract whites to the black cause, but Georgia's students do not seem to be aware of that.

"This is a dull campus," says Butch Scott, editor of the twice-a-week student newspaper, The Red and Black. When the managing editor dropped out of school, Scott assumed his duties because no one really wanted the job. The apathy has become serious enough for school officials to hire a young woman to operate a viable student union, and last fall ministers on campus launched a program of their own called Thrust. "In effect, what the school is doing," Scott says, "is telling the students, 'Here is the ball. You can run with it if you want.' "

Georgia has an SDS chapter and an occasional incident. Last spring there was a two-day sit-in by 200 demonstrators in the Academic Building. They were agitating for women's rights, demanding that the women have no curfew and be allowed to drink in Athens, a privilege granted men. Following a student referendum, female equality was established. Then, several weeks ago, black Georgia students unfurled a banner at a football game that read "Bill Dooley [head football coach at the University of North Carolina] has black athletes. How about Vince [Georgia's head football coach]?" A scuffle followed, and white students tore the banner down. Campus police intervened. The sign was confiscated. End of incident.

If Georgia is a "dull campus" when it comes to various forms of student involvement, it is not dull socially or athletically, and its cheerleaders decidedly give a damn. They bring to a game and a crowd something of the flair exhibited by Georgia's most noted football player of recent times, Fran Tarkenton. For Georgia's girls, cheerleading is no mere wiggling of pompons, and for its boys a stern athletic endeavor is involved. All of the boy cheerleaders are members of the gymnastic team, and a prerequisite of making the squad is being able to do continuous backflips for 50 yards. All of the boys can backflip the length of a football field.

This unusually energetic approach to cheerleading began five years ago when the university, concerned about the physical fitness of its students, hired Lee Cunningham, a young gymnastics coach who had been All-America at Penn State and who had qualified for the 1960 U.S. Olympic team. Cunningham is slight, round-shouldered and looks like "before" in a bodybuilding ad (His students call him "Spider" but accord him the respect that they might a black widow.) One of the incidental duties given Cunningham was to be faculty adviser to the cheerleaders. At the time cheerleading was considered a "sissy" activity for boys. "The most athletic thing the boys did was to jump up and touch their toes with a bent leg," Cunningham says. "I decided to change that." He introduced tumbling and gymnast routines, and gradually the male cheerleaders began to acquire a far more vigorous image around campus. Cunningham now handpicks the boys onthe squad, and they consider themselves "real stud." So do some other people. "They are unbelievably masculine," coos one of the girl cheerleaders. "You should see them without their shirts."

Nor have the girls escaped Cunningham's attention. Coeds trying out for the squad are given three weeks training in tumbling and somersaulting off trampolines, sessions that have bruised many a Georgia peach. Cunningham then cuts the group of hopefuls to the most promising 10 to 15. These go to the cheerleading finals, which are held before 10,000 people in the Coliseum, Cunningham's theory being that there is nothing like a little hand-to-hand combat to reveal a girl's fighting spirit. A panel composed of four student-body officers and 10 faculty members—a physics or geology professor is usually included to assure an eclectic opinion—selects the winning six. Sororities and fraternities come to the finals en masse, providing vociferous and highly partisan cheering sections for candidates. The girls are judged on figure, face, poise, posture, individual cheering, group cheering, pep, voice and tumbling. "They are always nice to us during the try outs," a boycheerleader notes. "They have to work out with us in front of the judges, and we can make them look good or bad." After they have won a place on the squad, the girls sometimes are not as thoughtful. They may, for example, pay slightly less attention to their weight and become a handful to hoist. One of the present group is known, albeit affectionately, as Leadbottom.

As usual, the winners of the latest competition turned out to be the holders of numerous beauty titles. Last fall Cheerleader Debbie Giles represented Georgia tn the Miss Southeast Conference contest. Ann DeLong is the Athens Poultry Princess and three other cheerleaders are on the All-Campus Eleven, a group selected as "the most-rounded" girls at Georgia.

The élan of the squad is well expressed in its fleet of cars—GTOs, Mustangs, Camaros, a TR4 (it belongs to Head Cheerleader Macris, who keeps it locked in the university poultry barn) and an air-conditioned VW. Coach Cunningham cheerfully holds his own with a yellow Thunderbird convertible.

Unlike Purdue's more casual cheerleaders, Georgia's girls continue to go through a rough, demanding and invigorating training program after they are selected, and they take considerable pride in their performances. They have nightly practices doing flips, handsprings, cartwheels and splits as bare feet and aching backs thud against the wrestling mats in the Coliseum or on the grass outside. Their efforts have a rhythm of concentration and skill as their leader, Merman-voiced Linda Wood, calls out the cheers:

Rip 'em up
Tear 'em up
Give 'em hell, Georgia

"I'm sweating like a colored person," Mary Jo Mansour said, flopping on the floor after a recent practice. But, displeased with her performance—she had been turning her head to the side in flips off the trampoline—she made an appointment with Cunningham for an hour's coaching early the next morning. "That's all she will need," he said. "Sometimes a girl will begin to lose her nerve. You take her back to the beginning and run her through the fundamentals and she'll be fine again. I ask a lot of this group, the boys and the girls, and I think they have a great deal of pride in the things they have accomplished."

This season Georgia's football team and Cunningham's crew made it to the Sugar Bowl where, perhaps, the whole country could get a quick television glimpse of an Athens Poultry Princess.

But turn farther south now, deep south, down to Mississippi, where a cheerleader is likely to be a Miss America aspirant instead of a Poultry Princess, where becoming a cheerleader is a social-political activity and where the sweat is largely devoted to attaining the position, not performing in it.

How much it means to be a cheerleader at Ole Miss can be measured by the expense of getting elected. Though the university has a rule forbidding students from spending more than $75 per candidate on elections, "the vouchers are kinda juggled," a cheerleader explains. Presumably most of them are lost, because no boy or girl has a chance to win unless their represented fraternity or sorority spends at least $1,000. Billboards are plastered up—VOTE JOHNNY REBEL; KITTY HAY—DEDICATED DYNAMITE; WALTERINE'S SPIRIT MACHINE; YOU CAN BET ON BODIE. Cards are printed, athletes' endorsements sought, musical bandwagons roll from sorority house to fraternity house—in all, a fervor of political activity in the American-traditional mode.

"As a cheerleader you become known," one of the group explains. "It primes the students to vote for you in other elections. It is the biggest of all the campus elections."

The winners are not the most adept cheerleaders but the most popular students or the ones who put together the most powerful political machines. There are alliances between sororities and fraternities—"we'll vote for your candidate if you vote for ours." There are grudges—the Delta Gammas don't vote for Chi Omegas, it is said, because an elderly lady, a Chi Omega, owns the old house in Oxford where the Delta Gammas were founded. The woman refused to sell house and home to the DGs. There is block voting by women scorned. Sororities become jealous of girls who win too many honors. Spitefully, they vote for plain Janes. When Ole Miss comes up with a homely cheerleader, it is probably because she benefited handsomely by this ballot of dissent. Zetta Mae Bryant, a cheerleader who had been undefeated in campus elections and is considered sexy by the males at Oxford, is rumored to have been the victim of such a face-powder plot in the recent homecoming-queen election,which she lost to a write-in candidate.

After a week of enthusiastic speeches and relentless campaigning in March, the cheerleader candidates offer last-minute enticements—bubble gum, Cokes, cotton candy, chocolate footballs, Popsicles—to students as they cast their votes in a ballot box in front of The Grill. In Oxford the way to a man's vote seems to be through his stomach—the gut issue.

The current cheerleaders, four boys and four girls, were elected under tense circumstances. Martin Luther King had been assassinated the weekend before the scheduled election, and on the day prior to the voting a group of black Ole Miss students, 50 to 75 of them (there are about 100 in the student body of 6,000), marched in a solemn procession up a street where campaigning cheerleaders were promising voters such things as a free supply of Rebel flags. "We shall overcome," chanted the Negroes. "Black Power."

"There was a riot," says Johnny Morgan, who was campaigning as Johnny Rebel. "These kids will tell you there was no riot, because you're a Northern reporter, but I'll tell you there was. I was in there throwing eggs. After the march the niggers went to The Grill and spread all around instead of going in back and sitting down together. They'd sit at tables where there were couples. One guy turned over a table on a nigger and walked out. Man, I was a physical wreck. The election had been going just right, and we figured just how many cards we needed printed up, and then these niggers came down and the administration decided to dismiss classes. You couldn't find a soul around here. The election was postponed until after the Easter holidays. I had to go get more cards printed up."

After the effort and expense of winning, Ole Miss cheerleaders have been known to semiretire. Some have not shown up at bowl games until halftime. Last spring others refused to appear at basketball games because they could find more excitement elsewhere. But this year's cheerleaders are more devoted. They have four cheers instead of the previous two, and at a college cheerleading clinic held in July in Hattiesburg they won four ribbons and a spirit stick and were named the most improved group.

Nonetheless, Ole Miss will gladly leave the acrobatics to Georgia. What it likes to boast about are its parties and its beauties. The "Top Beauty"—a title won in another campus contest—is Jane Carol Foshee. She is a cheerleader and is being touted in Oxford as the next Miss America. "Jane Carol is not only beautiful outside but beautiful inside," sighs one coed. Ole Miss has its own entry in the Miss Mississippi contest, and twice its representative, Miss University, has gone on to be Miss America: Majorette Mary Ann Mobley won at Atlantic City in 1959 and Linda Lee Mead in 1960. While volleyball and tennis trophies captured by Ole Miss sororities are wedged away in bookcases, the beauty cups shine on the mantelpiece.

Not entirely coincidentally, Jane Carol Foshee belongs to Chi Omega, the sorority of the two previous Miss Americas. She received invitations from all 10 Ole Miss sororities on campus but felt "more at home" with the Chi Omegas. Though she is just 19, she is already a beauty-pageant veteran, having been Miss Hattiesburg High and Mississippi Junior Miss. Her rendition of Second Hand Rose, complete with an ostrich feather shawl and lace bloomers, has become increasingly polished.

Contesting with Jane Carol at beauty-conscious Ole Miss is Zetta Mae, the defeated homecoming queen candidate. Zetta Mae has been a cheerleader for three years and twice has been voted a "Favorite" in yet another campus election. "Zetta Mae is sexy," says Head Cheerleader Bodie Catlin. "She catches your eye real quickly. Jane Carol is the kind of girl you'd bring home to your mother."

It is pointed out with pride at Ole Miss that few beards are seen. "There are some strange guys in the art department," it is confessed, "but they are pseudo hippies." "The big thing here is to look cool and have a sharp date," says Johnny Morgan. "The college crowd, when they go to a game, don't want to yell. They don't want to blow their cool." But they do want to wave Rebel flags—the school provides $2,000 in the $5,000 cheerleader budget specifically for flags—and they do risk enough cool to belt out their favorite cheer:

Are you ready?
H-E-L-L Y-E-S
D-A-M-N R-I-G-H-T
Hoddy toddy
God almighty
Who the hell are we?
Hey! Flim flam
Bim bam
Ole Miss
By damn

What a shock it would be to Ole Miss students if they knew that another of their four cheers—

Whomp 'em up
Side o' the head
Whomp 'em up
Side o' the head

—is considered a "soul" cheer in the Southwest and as such represents a step toward the social-awareness movement in cheerleading. "Soul is the big thing in this part of the country," says Jim Hart, a former SMU cheerleader. "Soul cheers are often dialect cheers. It is amusing to hear crowds at Alabama and Ole Miss using them, but I suppose they are accepted naturally."

Hart is a cheerleading instructor working for the National Cheerleaders Association, which is based in Dallas. The NCA was begun in 1952 by Lawrence Herkimer, a cheerleader in the days of Doak Walker. Today Herkimer has a $1.25 million business selling cheerleading outfits, megaphones and pompons and running cheerleading and song-girl clinics in 43 states. Probably a quarter of today's cheerleaders have been to a Herkimer clinic at one time or another.

There have always been sectional variations in cheerleading, Herkimer says. The Big Ten and Ivy League schools are traditionalists. Illinois schools have been using the Indian-inspired

Oskee wa wa
Skini wa wa

since Lincoln won the big Blue-Gray Game at Gettysburg.

The junior colleges in California, having no tradition to build upon, have been the primary innovators of new cheers. "Four years ago in California they began making personality the prime consideration in cheerleading," Herkimer says. "Now they have moved into an era of specialization. There is a man on a mike, and he is an entertainer. Cheerleading has become show biz."

The soul cheers that are the fad in the Southwest came by way of California, but each place they arrive at seems to embellish them or present them in some new personalized form. The soul cheers have an infectious quality about them. During the opening game of the 1968 football season at the University of New Mexico, Sam Johnson, a Negro prelaw student, started leading soul cheers in the stands. Lobo students and the school's regular cheerleaders picked up his beat, and Sam was invited down front to lead cheers. He was careful not to compete with the regular cheering squad, but when fraternity groups in the stands would shout, "Give a yell, Sam," he would begin the leader-response chants that sound revivalist:

Sam: I got it.
Crowd: What?
Sam: You need it.
Crowd: What?
Sam: It's in mah eye (he points to his eye).
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Sam: It's in the sky.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Sam: It's on the roof.
Crowd: Oh yeah.
Sam: Honest troof....

The variations and the length of the chant were almost limitless. The beat became faster and faster, and the cheer usually ended in hilarious confusion and a shout of "Our cool team, cool!"

In addition to their rhythm, soul cheers often have an extra-athletic message. The Lobos, for instance, have one that goes:

Leader: We got a letter from Headquarters.

Crowd: What did 'e say? What did 'e say?

Leader: We got a letter from Headquarters.

Crowd: What did 'e say? What did 'e say?

All: He said, "Hit to KILL, boys!"

He said, "Hit to KILL, boys!"

That rhetoric certainly goes a step farther than the usual destructive hyperbole of traditional football cheers.

But soul cheers are sometimes only nonsense sounds. At Oklahoma, where black athletes demanded and got a black cheerleader last season, soul is:

Aw, beep, beep
Aw, beep, beep
Aw, beep, beep
Bang bang
Oomgowah
Sooner Power

Chuck Cissel, the Negro cheerleader, adapted it from a black nationalist chant. Now sororities Aw, beep, beep for their supper, athletes Aw, beep, beep in the dorm and Sooners have Aw, beep, beeped at their weddings.

Lawrence Herkimer has started teaching soul cheers to America's daughters in his clinics across the country. Soon, one assumes, 15-year-olds from Boise to Bloomington to Bangor are going to be walking home in the evenings and startling their parents with:

Fe-fi-fo-fum
We got soul
Now you get some.

In California, things come fast and go fast—even soul. On the California coast the best days of soul are gone, giving away to a strange combination of earnest social protest and high-camp hip. For a time the University of California at Berkeley had a head yell leader who won his office on an antiwar platform. More than 3,000 ballots were cast in the election, and Vietnik Jeff Sokol won by 1,100 votes over his nearest opponent. He was booed into quick retirement after two basketball games by Berkeley crowds that were understandably confused and annoyed by yells such as "End the War, End the War" and "Ban the Bomb."

The present yell leader, Robert Ellsburg, seized power in a reaction to Sokol. A 6'3", crew-cut varsity oarsman, he was revolted by what "that long-hair" (Sokol) was doing to the yell-leading image, so he and some fraternity brothers and oarsmen staged a coup d'esprit. "We told Sokol we were taking over," he says. "I have a hunch he was happy to take a hike."

The new group bases its cheers on a more universally accepted theme than peace, sex. "You've got to give them something risqué," Ellsburg says. He hired a topless dancer for a pregame rally. She wore a Cal sweater and was supposed to have a bikini beneath. When she whipped off the sweater—no bikini. The crowd was delighted, Ellsburg was astonished and authorities were aghast. But, since topless dancers are dished up for breakfast with your eggs and bacon in San Francisco, this hardly amounted to a cause cél√®bre. Ellsburg's cheers, however, would stir maiden ladies in Des Moines—or even Nob Hill. His "Give me an S, Give me an E," etc., gets the mind off the game if Cal is losing. Another cheer, "Root, Root, Root," has less to do with school spirit than one might think, and though Ellsburg's spoof of USC's Trojans draws howls of laughter in a stadium filled with people, it would only draw howls in a family magazine. Perhaps to mollify some of theolder Berkeley alumni, Ellsburg has another kind of cheer, one his grandmother would think cute: What was Calvin Coolidge's first name? C-A-L!