The National Cheerleading Association is responsible for a great many of the traditions we enjoy in cheerleading today. Learn about the NCA's founding and what this organization has to offer.
National Cheerleading Association History
The history of cheerleading officially began in the 1880s at Princeton University, but it would be nearly another 70 years before the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) was formed.
One time gymnast Lawrence Herkimer, simply known as "Herkie" to his friends, decided cheerleading would need to become more organized if it was to flourish and become a fully-fledged sport. He established the NCA at Sam Houston State University as a way to bring cheerleaders together to learn skills that would move the sport forward, and he was certainly successful in his mission. The Herkie jump has become legendary, but it's not the only fruit of the NCA. Pom poms are another innovation credited to the NCA, and it's hard to imagine cheerleading today without them. The NCA is even responsible for being the first uniform manufacturer, and as such has had a tremendous impact on the way cheerleaders look and dress.
NCA Cheerleading Camps
One of the biggest innovations the NCA is credited for is the initial formation of cheer camps. These camps are designed to teach cheerleaders a variety of cheers and skills they can take with them and use in their performances.
The NCA's very first cheerleading camp was held in 1949, just one year after the organization's formation. That year 52 young women attended; not bad for a first time event. The camp was a great success, and the following year, attendance shot up to over 350 participants.
The NCA's current cheerleading camps are broken into classes with specific training goals, including:
- Spirit Dances: This class teaches dance moves and routines that cheerleaders can incorporate into their performances.
- Cheer Stunts: Stunting adds energy, flash and excitement to a performance, but it can also be risky if the team isn't fully prepared. All cheer stunts are taught by qualified instructors with a strong emphasis on safety. Learn the ins and outs of flying, spotting and basing.
- Basket Class: Basket tosses are a building block to bigger stunts. This class teaches the basic basket toss technique plus a variety of variations.
- Pyramids: Always a crowd pleaser, this class covers different styles of pyramids. No matter how small or large your squad is, you'll find a pyramid geared to fit your team's capabilities.
To find camp dates, locations and other pertinent information, visit Varsity.com.
NCA Cheerleading Competitions
NCA offers a variety of competition experiences to meet various teams' capabilities.
- Spirit Championships: These events are plentiful, so most teams have the opportunity to attend a competition closer to home. These are great opportunities for younger, newer teams to get a taste of what it's like to compete.
- Theme Park Championships: Visit some of the best amusement parks to compete and play.
- Classic Championships: These events bring together teams by region to compete against each other.
- USA Championships: These events are the big time, and are held in cities chosen for their tourist attractions.
- NCA National Championship: This top level competition brings together the best of the best cheer teams from around the world.
Safety First and Always
NCA is a staunch supporter of safety in cheerleading, and has developed guidelines and regulations for both school and all star cheer teams.Visit:
Today, the NCA is still doing what it does best, instilling young people with the kind of confidence and leadership skills they can take with them and use the rest of their lives. If you're a cheerleader now, the NCA has a lot to offer. If you're a current/former cheerleader or coach looking to give something back to the sport, the organization also offers the opportunity to become an official NCA instructor.