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

    One could also say his current position is also called yell leader.

    August 19, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Evidently he should've spent less time yelling and playing dress-up, and more time studying.
    Obama 2012

    August 19, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. C. Howe Yulikit

    Hmm, yet another parallel with the worst President in history, George Walker Bush. No thanks. Thank goodness this moron also seems to be a loud mouth. Gonna be tough keeping up with Bachmann's gaffes but he seems to be doing well so far.

    August 19, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Roger Rabbit

    OMG – Those photos are priceless, CNN!!!!!!!! Put up more!!!!

    August 19, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Shame on the GOP/Tea Party for producing such a weak field of presidential candidates."

    Which is why so much anger is being directed at President Obama. Waiting for the Grand Old Party to start blaming Obama for the ineptness of THEIR candidates - considering everything else they've tried to lay at his door. God knows, it's a field I wouldn't want representing me.

    August 19, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. David

    Wasn't George Bush as well?

    August 19, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. SCOTO

    Whats with the uniform on the left?

    August 19, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    "and Perry's role as a yell leader during his college days may serve as an early indicator of political instinct and electoral prowess."

    Oh my! Well, then ...
    I thought the same thing when I read those lines Lynda!!
    WHO writes this stuff?! How does one thing mean the other?!? lol

    August 19, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. pete

    socal patriot asked why we already know so much about perry's college career and not obama's. the answer is because obama spent his time studying (or i assume he wouldn't have had good enough grades to get into harvard. appraently he didn't have enough time to cheerlead or play dress-up and take pictures (hence, the 2.2 gpa)

    August 19, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Jay

    The uniform on the left is that of the Corps of Cadets. Texas A&M is right behind the military academies for number of students who go on to serve in the military. Now, don't get me wrong, I am no Perry fan in any way shape or form, but I do support the Corps of Cadets and it's contribution the military. The biggest question I have about all this is really who the hell cares. He was a cheerleader/yell leader/a paint by numbers leader...no one cares and this is not news. This get's "headlines" on CNN.com and Ron Paul and his ideas, advancements, poll standings, support acorss the country etc are ignored. If the media is trying to "ignore" him to death, even more reason for people to see what the deal is. Don't let the media and their masters win. Ron Paul 2012. The Revolution will NOT be televised (thanks to CNN/Fox and friends)

    August 19, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Tony 140

    Yell Leader or Community Organizer -- TAKE YOUR PICK.

    August 19, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  12. rs

    Gad! He IS just like George W. Bush! Just say no to this one!

    August 19, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. zip

    Oh little Ricky. Why??

    August 19, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Sandalorn

    Yes...those pictures just scream "Middle Class". Yet poor Conservatives will say they "relate" to Perry even though he has never once in his life had to live even a single day under the weight of debt, etc.

    August 19, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. The Elephant in The Room

    Of all the aspects of Gov. Perry`s college days that could be mentioned, the LEAST RELEVANT is his cheerleader / yell leader activities.

    I think his supposed sub 2.0 GPA is more relevant on his job application for the Presidency, don`t you?

    What was his major? Engineering? Pre-law/Law ? Pre-med/Med? Political Science? Bus Mgt / MBA? That information might serve our decision making processes better.

    It don`t want to look at the "shiny" thing. I want the SUBSTANCE.

    As they say in the Texas vernacular, Perry is "All Hat & No Cattle". Yell-leader? I could not care less.

    August 19, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota


    Giving the *uniform* a closer look, I do see the *aviator* wings above his pocket, and take your word that it is indeed a replica of our brave WWII fighter pilots uniform.

    August 19, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  17. Alan

    I went to University of Texas which is the A&M rival but Perry is shown here in his senior boots. That is big deal to those in the Corps of Cadets at A&M. Those people are very loyal and even though it is not a tradition held where I went to school it should be respected and they worked hard to earn it. I work for a company and we hire geologists and engineers from A&M over a lot of ivy leagues due to work ethic and core values. It is ingrained in those kids and it makes them very valuable.

    August 19, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  18. MTATL67

    Ms. Abby Livingston, attending A&M obviously did not help him to keep a budget (approx $27B – with oil based economy ) as governor of Texas. A&M history it did not prevent him from saying that secession is a viable option. A&M honor code sure as heck did not prevent him from making a nice profit from shady land deals with his friends Doug Jaffe and Troy Fraser. A&M definitely did not teach him to respect education otherwise he would not have fired thousand of teachers in Texas. A&M did not teach him honor otherwise he would not call a fellow American a traitor without actual proof of treason. No I don’t think his a leader of any kind let alone leader of the United States and the Freeworld.

    August 19, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  19. roscoe

    Maybe a trip to the Bachmann clinic would do Rick some good......

    August 19, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. We ALL Know, Mami

    [All right, then, let's try it in ENGLISH!]

    Give me a P! P! An A! A! An R! R! Another R! R! And a Y! Y! What's it spell? Idiot! [according to Former Treasury official Bruce Bartlett] What ?! Idiot!! WHAT?!?! IDIOT!!!!!

    August 19, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. In order for 15 MILLION to find a job, only ONE must LOSE his.... Fire Obama in 2012

    So he was a leader at an early age huh? Sounds good. Maybe CNN can run some college photos of Obama during his school daze when he was stoned on marijuana? It would make a good comparison of the two people.

    August 19, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  22. Ralph

    Cheerleader, or Yell leader; Rick Perry is still a Village Idiot that has/will do a lot of damage to his state/ our country, no matter where he is.

    August 19, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. SoCal Patriot

    See, Pete, you assume – you have no idea what Obama was up to in college. What was his GPA? He's never released his transcripts. I'm not a Perry fan, just curious why these types of articles never surfaced when Obama was running – particularly after he got the nomination.

    As for you, "GOP hates Middle Class", if you're referring to his quotes about identifying with the socialists and communist groups on campus or snorting coke, you're right – there are some books that can be read about his college time. The problem is they're all in his own books, and the media have done very little to follow up on his background.

    Either way, Obama's now known record on the job is more telling than his previously unknown background.

    August 19, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Sebastian

    A Cheerleader wears a skirt and sometimes ends up under bleachers with Marcus, the running back.

    The Yell Leader does too only it`s with Bubba from the D-Line. Oh yeah the Yell leader doesnt wear a skirt – – unless Bubba says so.

    August 19, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. sortakinda

    Hey–is that Rick Perry in his Hitler Youth uniform?

    August 19, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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