Minnesota Golden Gophers Spirit Squads

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The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Spirit Squads comprise the cheerleading organization at the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota.[1] Being the first program ever to form worldwide, the University of Minnesota is the Birthplace of Cheerleading.[2] Today, there are four separate squads: a co-ed squad, an all-girl squad, a dance team, and a hockey cheer squad. The Goldy Gopher mascot is also a part of the program. The squads consistently perform well at national competitions including a 4-peat in dance, 2nd place finish for All-Girl in 2013 and two time national champ Goldy Gopher in 2011 and 2013. Their current head coach is Sam Owens.


Johnny Campbell

The precursors of cheerleading began appearing at Princeton University in the latter half of the 19th century. In the 1880s when a Princeton graduate name Thomas Peebles brought the game of American football to Minnesota, he also brought the idea of organized fan cheers. It wasn't until 1898 after a losing streak in football, a Minnesota student name Johnny Campbell began leading cheers forming a squad of yell-leaders for the football game between Northwestern University and Minnesota. Minnesota won the game 17-6 with the credit for that victory largely going to Campbell and his squad.[2][3]

In the 1920s, gymnastics and other athletic motions were first incorporated into routines by Minnesota's cheerleaders. It was also at this time that cheerleading transformed from a largely male activity to a largely female activity.[2][3]

Today though the pioneering is now dominated by all-star programs and cheerleading schools, the Minnesota Spirit Squads continue to lead at the collegiate level consistently reaching national finals and finishing in the top 10 as Cheerleading is changing from being an activity in support of other sports into a sport of its own.[4]


The Spirit Squad coaches have remained relatively consistent, since Sam Owens took over the program after graduation from it in the early 90's. The 2012-2013 list of coaches is below.[5]

Head Spirit Squad Director / All-Girl Cheer Coach - Sam Owens

Co-Ed Cheer Coach - Scott Beacher

Dance Team Coach - Amber Jackson

Assistant Dance Team Coach - Amanda Gaines

Hockey Cheerleading Coach - Kristina Anderson

Assistant Hockey Cheer Coach - Rachel Faynik Marbell

Mascot Coach - Taylor Hannah


Co-ed Cheer Team[edit]

This Co-Ed Cheerleading squad size varies from year to year, but always has a healthy mix of men and women. Mostly they appear at Gopher football and basketball games and are an annual participant of UCA Finals.[6]

All Girl Cheer Team[edit]

This squad has all women as members. Cheer at football and women's basketball games and are an annual participant of UCA Finals. Placed 3rd in 2011, 5th in 2012 and 2nd in 2013. [7]

Dance Team[edit]

The Minnesota Dance Team consists of 19 women dancers. Typically they perform at Gopher football and basketball home games as well as post-season play. Between 2003 and 2006, these women won four straight national championships in UDA Jazz competitions.[8] They won another 4-peat National Championship in both Division 1A Jazz and Pom in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Hockey Cheer[edit]

Although the Minnesota Spirit Squads compete annually in national competitions, the Hockey Cheer is now the only non-competitive squad in the program. The all female squad competed at Collegiate cheerleading camps until the mid-1990s. This squad, cheers at every regular season home and post-season neutral site game of men's ice hockey. On occasion they also appear at pep fests and other Golden Gopher sporting events. In general, there are anywhere between 9-15 cheerleaders, usually around 12. They are known for their figure skating abilities and perform on-ice stunts, the complexity of which set this squad apart from other hockey cheerleaders, particularly at the collegiate level.[9][10] Despite stunting now being somewhat limited, they continue to use modified stunts, figure skating abilities, and uniform selections that critics favor among collegiate squads.[11]

Members of the 2007-08 squad portray cheerleaders for a fictional high school hockey team in the 2008 film Killer Movie directed by Jeff Fisher and starring Paul Wesley and Kaley Cuoco.[12]

Some Minnesota hockey fans refer to them as the Squad of the Unattainable.[13]

Goldy Gopher[edit]

Main article: Goldy Gopher

Goldy Gopher is the mascot for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus and the associated sports teams, known as the Golden Gophers, as well as the defending UCA Mascot National Champion.


  1. ^ "Spirit Squads Homepage". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Securing the Future: The Golden Gopher Spirit Squads". GopherSports.com. 2006-06-11. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  3. ^ a b "THE HISTORY OF CHEERLEADING". cheerleading.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  4. ^ "2007 College Cheerleading & Dance Team Championship Results". Varsity.com. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  5. ^ "Spirit Squad Coaches". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Co-Ed Cheer Team". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  7. ^ "All-Girl Cheer Team". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  8. ^ "Dance Team". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  9. ^ "Hockey Cheer Team". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  10. ^ "Video: See the talent that sets the Gopher's Hockey Cheerleaders apart from their football counterparts". MNDaily.com. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2007-10-18. [dead link]
  11. ^ "College Hockey: Notebook: Semifinals". USCHO.com. 2005-04-07. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  12. ^ "Gophers cheerleaders get a taste of the movie business". MNDaily.com. 2008-06-18. Archived from the original on 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  13. ^ FTS!!Marching Band at the 2008... (2008-08-24). "Gopher Puck Live • View image - 2008-09 Squad of the Unattainable". Gopherpucklive.com. Retrieved 2012-07-11. 

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