Former Tech cheerleaders return as alumni for Homecoming

Tennessee Tech cheerleaders will host alumni from as far back as the 50’s for Homecoming weekend.

Robin Burroughs, cheerleading coach, said the alumni cheerleaders will attend a social from 7- 8 p.m. Friday where they will stunt and learn cheers. On Saturday they can participate with the cheerleaders on the sideline for the first half of the game. There are usually 15- 20 alumni who return to cheer for Homecoming.

“This year we’re really excited because we have several alumni coming from the 50’s and 60’s cheerleading era,” Burroughs said.

Gail Parks was a cheerleader from 1956- 1957. Parks attended her first Homecoming since leaving Tech when her granddaughter, Jordan Parks, started cheering in 2009.

Jordan Parks, junior elementary education major, said that she loves that her grandmother comes back to cheer with her.

“When I started cheering it made her feel special to be able to come back and it’s something cool that we can relate to cause we don’t really have many things in common,” Jordan Parks said. “But this brings us closer and gives us a chance to hang out at least once a year.”

Gail Parks said,”I decided at age 71 that if there was ever a time to go, it would be then to join her to help cheer our team on to victory.”

Parks said that in 1956, they had a Homecoming parade to the town square where the cheerleaders would lead cheers and the pep band would play.

“We also had a night pep rally with bon fires to invigorate the team to the task ahead,” Parks said. “We had the Eagle Spirit even though we didn’t have all of the frills.”

Another alumni cheerleader is Micaela Sadler Bedsole who cheered from 1957 to 1959. She said Homecoming was always exciting with the big game, floats, parades, and pep rallies.

“I loved everything about being a Tech cheerleader,” Bedsole said. “It was so much fun cheering for the football and basketball teams as I knew most of the players as friends, and the student body was so receptive toward the cheerleaders.”

Susie Sadler Grosvenor is Bedsole’s younger sister. The two cheered together for the 1958-59 season. Grosvenor was then captain of the cheerleading team from 1959 to 1961.

“The excitement of game day and wearing my cheerleading uniform were two of my favorite things about cheering,” Grosvenor said. “Also, our football team was very good the years I cheered so that made it even more fun.”

Grosvenor attended her 25th Homecoming game and this will be her 50th.

“At the 25th, my favorite activity was the T Club, or Letterman’s, Breakfast,” Grosvenor said. “I got to see the players from the teams for which I cheered. They were still very nice and great to see.”

Grosvenor said the best part of Homecoming as a cheerleader was getting to ride in the Homecoming Parade. They rode on a fire engine just as the cheerleaders still do today.

“It was great to see all of the Tech fans along the parade route, it made us feel very special,” Grosvenor said.

Lori Judd is a more recent alumni, she cheered from 1989-1991 and said she loved cheering at a college level on a co-ed squad.

Judd has been back several times to cheer at Homecoming and said that one year they had a coed line of alumni and current cheerleaders that stretched from one side of the stands to the other.

“Once the game begins and the band starts to play, it is like no time has passed at all,” Judd said. “I always stand in the same spot that I did my first year of cheering twenty two years ago. The faces have changed, but the spirit is still the same.”

The alumni social that is held the Friday before the Homecoming game was started in 1991 by Judd and her fellow 1990 alumni cheerleaders.

“The alumni cheerleaders secretly had a practice the night before the game to out-cheer and out-stunt the current cheerleaders,” Judd said. “We practiced all our old routines and pyramids for the homecoming game, and it worked, the current cheerleaders could not keep up with us. We out-did them and embarrassed them, we were really mean. Anyway, the practice the night before the game continues today, but with a better purpose.”

Coach Burroughs said that she expects 15-20 alumni cheerleaders to attend Homecoming.