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. GI Joe

    He's Paylin with a Penis. No brains, but lots of connections to the wealthiest in the country.

    August 19, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  2. sortakinda

    I think Perry should refuse to use a microphone. He should just YELL his speeches.

    August 19, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  3. WesinNCA

    Neidermeyer look -alike.

    August 19, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. NVa Native

    hahhahahaha.......kind of like Parry saying, "no not ballet, we called it modern dance", or Larry Craig saying, "I'm not gay, just sometimes I enjoy sex with men".

    August 19, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Fits him perfectly. He's really no other kind of leader, and only has the capability to yell... And if one yell doesn't excite the crowd, or elicit the desired response, he just switches to another. Pretty pitiful, actually...

    August 19, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. CB

    The picture in the uniform is creepy...I'm sure someone's gonna be showing that when they campaign against him, and add a mustache for full effect.

    August 19, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    @Tony 140

    Yell Leader or Community Organizer - TAKE YOUR PICK.
    I'll take the Harvard graduate (magna cum laude) over the low-"C" average cheerleader any day. I'll take the one that enlists the help of other countries in dealing with terrorists to the "shoot first and aim later" Texas hick.

    August 19, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Ed Texas

    So, big deal. Perry was a cheerleader. The uniform reminds me of the Nazis.

    August 19, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. Get A Grip

    Yell Leader or not, I'd vote for Perry any day over the community organizer that we are stuck with now.

    August 19, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Retired Army in San Antonio

    I dunno......still sounds like a cheer leader to me.

    Only difference is the selection process.......

    August 19, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tony 140

    Yell Leader or Community Organizer - TAKE YOUR PICK.
    I generally ignore your posts, but I must point out to you that your team hasn't made it's pick yet amongst it's tribe of idiots.
    Therefore your post should read: Community Organizer or___________ TAKE YOUR PICK.
    But I guess you just needed to YELL OUT something huh?

    August 19, 2011 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @Jay: Thanks for the uniform lesson Jay. Sincerely. And just as sincerely I tell you that it still gives me the 'creeps'.

    August 19, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    To M. I don't think too many of our brave soldiers and sailors have a riding crop in their service photos.

    August 19, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  14. FM

    Hello folks! this time I have to be on Perry's side. What a pity!! If you lack the courage to start, then you have already finished. The man started the yelling since those age what I call "foolish age" and he is still maintaing it up to now! He deserves a credit for this! Isn't it?

    August 19, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Rickster

    Democrats in here once again proving what incomplete tools they are. Let's go back in the past and take a look at Barry Soetoro's wardrobe. You will undoubtedly find a turban and an oversized nightshirt involved. And let's look at his college records....oh wait, we can't because he has sealed all of them....no peeking at his anti-American past, that's not relevant.

    August 19, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Indy

    Great, just great we have Boehner who is Yeller of the House and now Perry wants to be POTUS and yell at everyone but the Tea Party

    August 19, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. Indy

    Tony 140
    Harvard Law Grad or D student

    August 19, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. logic in LA

    Still yelling- still saying nothing. And what's with the sword and SS boots? He was in Texas

    August 19, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Peggy - TX

    Texas Govener Perry is a 1972 graduate of Texas A&M University where he studied “animal science”. The fact the he was Yell Leader is not important, rather the sexist, and racist culture of this school he attended is.

    Originally the Texas A&M University an all-male military school, where only men were admitted and all students were required to participate in the Corps of Cadets and receive military training. It was not untill 1963 that. Women were allowed to inrole, and then those were limited to the wives and daughters of faculty and staff they were not permitted to join the Corps of Cadets. In 1964 the first African American student was in rolled.

    Although the requirement for all students to inroll in the Corps of Cadets was dropped, the core remained an integral part of A&M. Most importantly, while Perry attended the school women were not allowed to participate in the Corps. It was not untill 1974 that women were allowed to to join the Corps and then they were segregated into a special unit, known as W-1, and suffered harassment from many of their male counterparts.

    So when Governer Perry states something like “down here in Texas we will treat so-and-so ugly”, he conjurs up images of deeply rooted culture in much of Texas dominated by a FEW white men that senceley belive it is their patrotic duty to band together and their God given right to impose their racist and sexist through bulling.

    August 19, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Yell leader isn't all Ricky is known for, the best is yet to come and he'll dropout. Stay tuned.

    August 19, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. a little sad

    GOP hates Middle Class

    "PS – the days of the regressives claiming a monopoly on patriotism are long gone."

    Claim a monopoly? They can't claim to have any patriotism at all.

    August 19, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. GrogInOhio

    Meh... who cares? I, for one, am FAR more concerned about Gov. Perry's lunatic fringe views ( his anti-science views, "treason" for the Fed?, praying away the nation's maladies?, Soc sec is "unconstitutional"??) than I am his college history. His views should disqualify him for most sane people.

    August 19, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. mesamick

    Now you know where the Rev. Ricky Bobby got his ideas that "LOUDERSHIP is leadership". "Screedin' is leadin" and "Texass cornpone giddy- YAPPIN" is a sign of "cowboy smarts"....

    August 19, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. Texas Doc

    G.W. Bush was a male cheerleader as well at Yale. Male cheerleader? In Texas? Really? Can't we get a football or lacrosse team captain, something a little more butch, or are lall of the GOP candidates a bunch of pansies?

    August 19, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. Ken

    Whatev-er!! Just shows that he always had a big mouth!

    August 19, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
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