A legacy of cheer: 100 years of BU Spirit Squad

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer, Video by Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter

The Baylor University Spirit Squad is celebrating 100 years of serving as Baylor ambassadors cheering on the university’s sports teams both at home and away.

The spirit squad is composed of all girl yell leaders, co-ed yell leaders, the songleaders dance team and mascots Bruiser and Marigold. They perform at all football games, basketball games and home volleyball games. Team members also travel to postseason football championships and bowl games.

Baylor yell leader alumna Susan Bell said during her time at Baylor from 1986 to 1988, the spirit squad consisted of yell leaders and songleaders, with five men and five women as yell leaders.

“Back in the day, we did it a little differently. I would try to get sleep before games but it was like we were trying to compete with A&M, we had pep rallies at midnight for the football games,” Bell said. “I wouldn’t get home until 2 or 3 in the morning. Although you get energy once you’re in front of the crowd; the adrenaline kicks in.”

Bell said most of the cheers and the band’s music has remained the same. At any game the fight song or “When The Saints Go Marching In” won’t be missed.

When Bell was on the sidelines, the bears joined them too. She said they got to be really up close to them, and in proper Baylor fashion, the bears were allowed to enjoy a Dr Pepper too.

It is tradition for the spirit squad to travel to postseason games. Bell traveled to the Bluebonnet Bowl in 1986, and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1988 to cheer on Baylor.

San Antonio junior Kathryn Fuller has been dancing as a member of the songleaders and said the long hours are more than worth it.

“We have really long days, wake up at 4 in the morning to get ready but honestly once you get on the field, do pregame and also on the Baylor Line run, you get a new burst of energy,” Fuller said.

Bell said that during her time at Baylor only the men ran the Baylor Line.

In 2019, Fuller and Talley traveled with teams to the Big 12 championship game, NCAA March Madness tournament, NCAA volleyball tournament and NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament.

Houston junior Caroline Talley has been a member of the songleaders since her sophomore year, and said she enjoys the tradition of the Baylor spirit squad and community it has given her.

“When we are all in the locker rooms so early, we just mess around. You make a lot of fun memories hanging out with everyone,” Talley said.

As a new tradition for the spirit squad, the songleaders will return to the Dance Team Union’s College Classic as last year’s national champions during the first weekend of April in Las Vegas. They represent Baylor among other college’s dance teams in a number of different dance competitions.