"Being an MSU cheerleader has been the most rewarding experience of my college career. It has taught me responsibility, helped me grow as a person and allowed me to share my Eagle pride with the MSU community and beyond. I am honored to be a part of MSU's tradition of excellence."
Stephenie Crites, seniorAshland, Ky.Exercise Science
On the gridiron and the court, they are on the sidelines revving up the crowd. At pep rallies and numerous other school functions, they remind everyone what true Eagle enthusiasm should look and sound like through a mix of athleticism and choreographed precision.
They are Morehead State University cheerleaders – and their reputation is far from ordinary. Over the course of its existence, the University’s cheerleading squads have gone from simply cheering on the blue and gold to setting the gold standard as one of the most dominant competitive cheerleading programs in the country.Before MSU Cheerleading went on to win national titles, it was called upon for its primary purpose: encourage the players and ignite the fans. The squad’s numbers rarely if ever exceeded double digits in early years and the team required school sponsors to afford to transport the cheerleaders and coaches to away games for football and basketball.Sue Pelphrey Bradbury (69) was an MSU cheerleader from 1966 to 1969. She recalls five or six girls on the squad, executing lifts, mounts and pyramids but said the gymnastic aspect of cheerleading wasn’t commonplace. “One of the girls did front walkovers from one end of the gym to the other and we just stood there and looked at her. We didn’t incorporate too much of that into the cheers,” Bradbury said.Just because gymnastics wasn’t emphasized and competitions were yet to be established during Bradbury’s time doesn’t mean the Eagle cheerleaders weren’t dedicated to doing their job and doing it well. She recalls the squad, “being part of that crowd that was out there.”As MSU Cheerleading evolved and grew to include coed squads, so did the sport of cheerleading itself. Competitive cheerleading came into play just as Myron Doan (71) took over in 1979 as MSU’s head cheerleading coach. With cheerleading now having competitions, Doan wasn’t content to just have the MSU squad relegated to the sidelines.MSU entered its first College Cheerleading Championship in 1988. Doan was hoping the squad would make a good first impression – and boy, did they ever.“The first time we ever went, we won,” Doan said. “The whole thing took us by storm.”From that point on, the bar for MSU Cheerleading was set: be the best collegiate cheerleading squad in the nation. Period.
The squad did just that on a consistent basis, winning 10 straight coed National Championships from 1991 to 2000 and 11 straight coed National Championships from 2002 to 2012 – not to mention racking up eight all-girl National Championships during the course of 15 years between 1998 to 2011.Cassie Lawson Stanley (99) cheered on the championship squads in 1993 and 1994. She grew up in Morehead and was one of many who began coming to Morehead State in hopes of becoming a part of its championship cheerleading legacy. Stanley couldn’t be more proud of her contribution to the championship squad, but she said it didn’t come without plenty of sacrifice.“There’s a lot of people that don’t think cheerleading is very hard work, but it is,” Stanley said. “When you are a national championship team, you have to have the dedication to put into it.”That work ethic has been a constant to MSU cheerleading. Current squad members, can attest to exactly what it’s like to be on a team with some of the best cheerleaders from across the country and how keeping a championship streak alive makes everyone step up their game. MSU cheerleaders past and present will all tell you the sport doesn’t really have an off-season. They attend both football and basketball games even when the sports’ seasons overlap. MSU Cheerleading is at a championship caliber and the athletes practice consistently throughout the year. They continue to increase the difficulty of their stunts while keeping the routines tight and technically clean so their No. 1 ranking never changes.“When you are such prolific champions, you need to practice when others are not. We have a target on our backs,” said Bill Mayo, current spirit coordinator and head cheerleading coach of the all-girl and coed cheer squads. “We have one possession. It’s one game and it’s two minutes and 30 seconds. If we screw up, if we drop, if we’re not perfect, we lose.”The cheerleading squads continue to be the biggest, loudest and most dedicated supporters of Morehead State. Even with the pressures of maintaining their stronghold over competitive cheerleading, they continue to put on a show for the fans at ball games, alumni functions and open houses. The squads host their own yearly cheerleading showcase for the region’s young cheerleaders while also traveling to high schools in Eastern Kentucky to dazzle crowds.With efforts promoting school spirit and continued excellence in competition, MSU Cheerleading has proven it is worthy of its own cheering section.“It makes you feel good to think that cheerleading and MSU are kind of synonymous,” Doan said. “Even now, when you’re in public somewhere, they’ll ask you what that championship ring stands for and you’ll tell them, we’re from MSU.”Learn more about MSU’s cheerleading program at www.MSUEagles.com.
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