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U.S. Presidents Who Were College Cheerleaders

Historical Facts | August 17, 2021

George W. Bush, Andover Philips Academy Year Book in 1964. (Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Today's cheerleading routines may combine high-flying stunts, athletic tumbling, and energetic dance moves, but things were very different in the cheerleading days of the American presidents. In fact, five former United States presidents were college cheerleaders.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Prior to his devastating polio infection at age 30, the nation's 32nd president enjoyed an active lifestyle as well as an academic one. While a student at Harvard College between 1900 and 1903, F.D.R. was a member of a fraternity, served as editor-in-chief of the college's daily newspaper, and joined the Fly Club (which is a lot less acrobatic than it sounds) as well as the cheerleading squad, riling up crowds for the Harvard Crimson football team.

Eisenhower (third from left) with the 1912 West Point football team. (Eisenhower Presidential Library/Wikimedia Commons)

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sports and athletics were a lifelong passion of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would become the 34th president of the United States. In fact, he cited not making the West Point baseball team as the single greatest disappointment of his life well after that life had become quite long. He had to console himself with a spot on the varsity football team, but even that victory was short-lived, thanks to a knee injury. Determined to remain close to the action, he elected to formally cheer on the football team even though he could no longer serve as its star running back.

Ronald Reagan

Before he was president or even a Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan was a Eureka College thespian, radio announcer, student body president, prolific activist, and member of the swimming and football teams. Just to be a good sport, he also joined the cheerleading squad, rooting for his fellow athletes in various other sports.

George H.W. Bush in his 1942 yearbook photo. (Phillips Academy Andover/Wikimedia Commons)

George H.W. Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush, who served as commander-in-chief from 1989 to 1993, was a Yale legend. He was the president of his fraternity, a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society, and captain of Yale's baseball team. He even played in the first two College World Series. His father encouraged him to also become a Yale cheerleader, just as he had done when he was a student there.

George W. Bush

The younger Bush followed his father's footsteps into both the presidency and the Yale cheerleading squad. W. actually became a cheerleader in high school at the prestigious Phillips Academy, climbing the ranks all the way to head cheerleader before heading off to Yale, where he cheered for all four years of study. As a third-generation cheerleader, he proved the Bush family has spirit, yes, they do.

Tags: American presidents | cheerleading history | historical facts

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.