What is a yell leader?
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives / Texas A&M University
August 19th, 2011
11:40 AM ET
3 years ago

What is a yell leader?

(CNN) - Much has been made of Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's college experience as a "cheerleader" during his days at Texas A&M University. Except that Perry was never a cheerleader. He was a "yell leader."

Both are spirit organizations at college sporting events, but otherwise they're quite different, and Perry's role as a yell leader during his college days may serve as an early indicator of political instinct and electoral prowess.

The Aggie Yell Leader squad is made up of group of juniors and seniors who lead the A&M crowds in trained chants at sporting events with hand motions. Unlike cheerleaders, there are no high flying flips, nor are there traditionally women on the squad. The uniforms do not even have a color, but instead are simply white shirt and white pants.

But what makes the yell leader phase of Perry's formative life relevant in the context of the presidential race is the selection process. The yell leader is the highest profile student position on the A&M campus, and they are chosen in a fiercely competitive popularity contest within a current student body of just under 50,000. To have been one of the five students selected for role, at a young age Perry had to have demonstrated an ability to mobilize voting blocs (specifically the A&M Cadet Corps) and politick.

As the official yell leader website writes, "It is not uncommon for more than twice as many students to vote for yell leader candidates than vote in the Student Body President elections."

Read more about Perry's time at A&M in TIMEhere.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Perry • Texas
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. mesamick

    WHOA! This guy looks really fey to me! Are you sure that all this cowboy acting isn't just a cover up for something else? Wonder if he's met Marcus B. yet....

    August 19, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. SCOTO

    Very scary photos.

    August 19, 2011 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. Michael

    Perry in the uniform looks exactly like Niedermeyer from "Animal House". Nice ascot too. I am aware that the uniform is from the Corps of Cadets – however, any uniform derives its honor from the character of those who wear it. One does not gain honor from dressing like a WWII veteran for social reasons. It is perfectly legitimate to say that Perry looks like he's about to start goosestepping and screaming Sieg Heil. That perception comes from his decades of fascist behavior. Eisenhower had a dress uniform with shiny boots too, and nobody thought HE looked like a Nazi, because he didn't ACT like one. His famous warning against the military-industrial complex stemmed from his hatred of Nazis: the military-industrial complex is fascism at its best.

    August 19, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. B W Messenger

    Wow! I didn't realize he was a Yell Leader at A&M. That's awesome! Quite an accomplishment ... kind of adds to the level of respect I already had for him!!

    August 19, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. shoegazer

    Those pictures make him look like more of an idiot than he actually is......uhh,maybe not.

    August 19, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Johnny B. Goode

    He looks like the chief jerk on Animal House.

    August 19, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. NoTags

    Perry is an arrogant big mouth, perfect qualifications for a "yell leader". Another "all hat, no cattle" Texan.

    August 19, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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