Cheerleading 101: The Spirit Stick
The reason I decided to blog about the Spirit Stick and the meaning behind it … Lindsey, our Marketing Director at the station.
Well, Lindsey isn’t the only reason why, but she is the main reason. First, several people at work had no idea what the Spirit Stick was and the significance behind it. So, I had to explain it to them and then I thought, maybe you don’t know all the details about the spirit stick. If that’s the case, this blog will explain it all. I will get to the explanation in a minute.
Back to Lindsey… (let me first say that Lindsey is a great friend of mine, so we joke about a lot of things…including cheer!) when I came to work yesterday she started laughing. I asked her what her deal was and she said she kept thinking about my Facebook post last week. It said “Spirit Stick two nights in a row! Last day of camp is tomorrow. Go FHHS JV Cheer!” Lindsey said she didn’t know what that meant, but she had some comments that she wanted to post, but she stopped herself from posting them. I decided that I would teach Lindsey a lesson and bring the spirit stick to work. She has to take care of it and not let it hit the floor or she will be doomed! (I know it’s not that harsh of a punishment lol, but I had to do something to her) I don’t think Lindsey will make fun of my cheer stuff any more for the mere fact that she doesn’t want to babysit any more cheer props!
What is the history of the NCA Spirit Stick?
It began at an NCA Cheer camp back in 1954 where one team stood out among the rest. It wasn’t for their talents, rather for their attitudes. They couldn’t keep up with the others. They weren’t coordinated or technically skilled. But they were the backbone of the camp; they were always the first to arrive in the morning to class and the last to leave, they were always cheering everyone else on, they always had the best attitude and they worked great as a team.
What they symbolized was far more than any display of technical skill or talent. They represented the pure essence at the very core of cheerleading; they stood for spirit in every sense of the word. However, their spirited performance wasn’t the kind the NCA scoring process recognized with a ribbon of excellence, a praise every other team would receive.
Yet it was this team’s vibrant, positive energy that bolstered the camp, a creed Lawerence ”Herkie” Herkimer wanted to instill in the NCA. Knowing he couldn’t just up and change the scoring and award process, “Herkie” was in a quandary. He quickly needed something to acknowledge the impact the team had on the others. In expressing his desire to the other instructors, “Herkie” spontaneously reached for a twig off a tree and declared it the official “Spirit Stick“. He knew that as awesome as the team was, they wouldn’t care if they were handed a simple stick.
The NCA “Spirit Stick” has evolved, from a simple tree limb, being cut, painted and dried in Herkimer’s garage….to a red, white, and blue wooden dowel, now manufactured by the thousands. It’s now an integral part of summer camp honors given to teams that exemplify the Spirit as defined by NCA. A first place ribbon isn’t complete without a “Spirit Stick”.
Let me say this, you do NOT want to come home from camp without a Spirit Stick. And yes, we still practice the urban legend associated with the spirit stick … if you drop it, you will have a horrible cheer year.