Pittsburgh Steelers Cheerleaders History
In 1961, the Pittsburgh Steelers were having trouble selling tickets to their games. The team’s entertainment coordinator, William V. Day, came up with an idea of how to attract more steelers fans to the games: putting cheerleaders on the sidelines. At the time, V. Day was also the vice president of Robert Morris Junior College. So he recruited college students to be the team’s cheerleaders. Thus Pittsburgh Steelers Cheerleaders history began.
The original goal of the Steelerettes was to make sure the crowd got entertainment and felt lively, even if the Steelers were not winning. Due to the fact that they were cheerleaders for a professional sports team, the Steelerettes did not perform the traditional cheers. They used high energy dance and gymnastics routines choreographed to jazz music played live band to keep the crowd enthused. The Steelerettes eventually became well known for their ten girl pyramid that impressed every member of the crowd. They would practice their routines in the cafeteria or in front of the dormitory at Robert Morris Junior College.
In 1962, the first ever male cheerleaders were added to the group . The name of the male group was the Ingots. Alongside the Steelerettes, they would keep the crowd immersed in the fanfare. The Ingots wore black slacks, white or gold shirts, and the ever iconic hard hat that was apart of the Steelerettes uniform until 1963. When the Steelers scored a touchdown, the Ingots would fire a cannon filled with 12-gauge blanks. The Ingots were a one-season-wonder and went disbanded the next season.
In 1964, the team hired its first ever choreographer. The authority brought about Many changes, such as new, sultry uniforms, that displeased many of the girls on the team. The choreographer was let go half way through the season. More than one Steelerette had walked away the 1964 season due to the disagreeable changes.The Steelerettes kept performing until 1969 when the squad went disassembled. The squad’s breaking up was a mutual agreement from all parties involved. Over the eight seasons the Steelerettes performed, sixty women performed for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2001, the Steelerettes held their first reunion at Heinz Field.
What it Took to be a Steelerette
Becoming on of the NFL’s first official cheerleaders was not a walk in the park. For the first team, very rigorous tryouts took place. a panel of judges judged girls’ gymnastic ability, their personality, how well their coordination was, and their overall appearance. Due to the fact that they were all students at Robert Morris Junior College, They must maintain a GPA of 2.0 to remain a member of the team. Until 1964, the selection body administered a written exam to test the girls’ knowledge of the Pittsburgh Steelers and football in general.
Interaction with the football team was strictly forbidden unless it was for a publicity photo shoot or other team events. The team practiced regularly and had to keep in tip top shape to perform their routines. The Steelerettes were large role models of their time. They appeared at many charity events outside of the regular Steelers football games. The team represented a wholesome group that was in charge of entertaining the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh Cheerleaders Today
As of the 1970 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to form another cheerleading team. The Steelers have won six separate Super Bowls since the Steelerettes were dissolved. There has been no prospective or talk of forming another cheerleading team either. In the off season, however, the members of the team themselves go out and perform projects throughout the Pittsburgh community. The team does charity work for corporations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, the Children’s Hospital, and the American Respiratory Alliance. To compensate for the lack of pep on the sidelines, the Steelers launched a new mascot in 2007, Steely McBeam.
The 1961 Steelerettes
The original Steelerette team consisted of nine females: Eleanor Lineman (captain),Virginia Davis, Patricia Zuvellan, Margaret Hensler, Dolly Merante, Margie McCormick, Sandy McEachran, Linda Walters, Barbara Bishop.
Here are some of the more memorable Steelerettes
Eleanor Lineman: Eleanor was the glue that held the team together. She was the first cheerleading captain in the NFL and for the Stealerettes. She held her team together with dignity and grace. After she retired from the team, she came back as their coach for a year.
Carole Sematic: Carole was the first ever baton twirler to be in the Steelerettes and the first to perform a baton routine for the NFL.
Diane Battiste: As the third captain of the Steelerettes, Diane showed her ability to keep the squad together. She attended a Dr. Pepper convention for publicity. Under her leadership, the Steelerettes performed at an Andy Williams and Henry Mancini concert. Diane graduated from college in 1966, ending her days as a Steelerette. She returned in 1967 as the team’s trainer.
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