Reminiscing With the Former College Cheerleaders that Call Homewood Home

We’ve Got Spirit…Yes We Do!

As told by by Barry Wise
Photos by Laurey Glenn

Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar, all for cheerleaders, stand up and holler!! Who knew? Homewood is a hotbed of college cheerleading. We got together with 14 Homewood residents who cheered collegiately to share their favorite memories, biggest games, and most embarrassing moments.

Jenna Bailey
University of Alabama

My favorite game-day memory was my first time cheering in Bryant Denny…the atmosphere was electric, and it was a lifelong dream come true! Another favorite memory was my last college cheerleading Nationals in 2004. Our team hit our routine and placed second in the nation. It was so special to work so hard toward a common goal with some of my very best friends.

The most important games I cheered were for the 2004 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Alabama made it to the Elite 8, and we traveled to Seattle and Phoenix during the tournament and cheered lots of exciting games. The most fun destination was Hawaii in 2003 for a post-season game!

My most cringe-worthy moment was when I was learning a new basket toss and accidentally came down feet first and kicked my coach in the face, dislocating his nose. He was a great sport about it, but I felt awful!

Ashley Byrom
University of Alabama

My favorite memory was the friends I made! I am so thankful for their friendship and support over the years. I also saw my future husband for the first time when he came up to the fence to talk to us! Getting to cheer on my favorite team, meeting alumni, traveling, competing at UCA Nationals, pep rallies, visiting nursing homes and schools, all of it. I am so thankful I was able to be a part of an amazing program and school!! Roll Tide!!

One of my favorite games was my freshman year in 2001. Alabama beat LSU 31-0 at Tiger Stadium!

At my first game to cheer at LSU—which is a crazy fun experience—two LSU women sat in front of me doing every cheer, mocking and mimicking my every movement. It was hilarious, but they never broke me! At the end of the game, they came and apologized and said I was a good sport.

Jenna Gantt
University of Alabama

My favorite memory from my cheering years is running the team out for football games. The excitement of the fans and the roar of the crowd was such an awesome thing to experience from the field.

The most exciting game I remember was the Bama vs. Florida game in 2005. Both teams were having a great season, so it was a big game. Bama showed up with the help of Tyrone Prothro, and Florida never scored a touchdown. The post-game excitement on the field was so fun and memorable! The most exciting event to cheer for was always UCA College Nationals Competition. We worked all year for one shot at a stellar performance. I loved the pressure of competing and representing UA! 

Megan Latham
University of Alabama

My favorite memory from my cheering years at Bama was getting to cheer with my sister. My twin sister was a cheerleader at Tennessee and getting to see her on the field during an Alabama/Tennessee game was so exciting. Roll Tide!

We were in the middle of a workout, and Coach Shula hopped on a treadmill next to me. I looked over at him and tried to play it cool. While doing so, I not so gracefully tripped and almost fell right off the treadmill.

Kim Oliver
University of Alabama

It’s hard to choose just one favorite memory. One of the most exciting is competing in the UCA College Cheerleading Championships in San Diego, California. It was the first time I had ever been to California, and we won second in the nation in 1988!! Roll Tide.

Back in the late ‘80s, Alabama was not the football dynasty it was previously or is today. We were always a winning team and went to a bowl game every year, which was super fun, and we got to travel with the team. We were rocking in basketball at that time with Head Coach Wimp Sanderson. In 1987 we beat LSU for the SCE Championship and made it to the Sweet 16!! So much fun! There is nothing like the pageantry of football and cheering at Bryant Denny Stadium, but cheering on the court in basketball is awesome too! You feel more a part of the actual team.  

In 1987, we also played Penn State and Notre Dame in football. We traveled with the team to these schools and were able to tour the campuses. Back in the day, these two games were huge for Alabama and such a thrill to be a part of.

In 1988, Alabama played Texas A&M at College Station. A&M has an all-male cheer squad called “yell leaders” with their own unique style. The “yell leaders” and Parson’s Mounted Calvary walk around the field hyping up the crowd pre-game. The horses are trained to poop where the visiting cheer squad stands during the game. They clean it up, but needless to say there are residuals. My partner smelled something every time we tossed to hands. He finally asked me if I felt OK. I said yes, and we discovered the odor was the bottom of my shoes not me.

Lori Parris

My favorite memory is going to Nationals in Orlando, Florida, to compete for a National Championship. We placed 7th in the nation. It was such a fun time of bonding with my teammates.

The biggest game was UAB vs. LSU. UAB traveled to LSU to play. Unfortunately, all of the cheerleaders were not able to travel with the team, so I was not able to be there in person, but it was definitely the biggest game of the year. Rhett Gallego kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play of the game as UAB upset LSU 13-10. 

Brandi Patterson
Auburn University

My favorite memory was the night of call outs the first year I made the squad at Auburn. The squad was announced at Toomer’s Corner, and everyone that tried out and lots of friends were there for the announcement. Toomer’s Corner is such a special place. It is a moment that I will never forget.  

My favorite game was the 1997 Iron Bowl. Jaret Holmes kicked a late game-winning field goal following an Alabama turnover. After the win, the goal post was torn down by the fans and passed around the stadium. I remember the announcer asking the fans not to throw the goal post out of the stadium. The atmosphere was pretty incredible. That win allowed us to cheer for Auburn in the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship.  

Ginny Rutledge
Auburn University

I have so many wonderful memories of my cheering days. One of my favorite memories is the night I made the team for the first time. Hearing my name called out with family and friends standing beside me is something that I will never forget. Other favorite memories include home football games and all of the Auburn game-day traditions that go with it. Not a favorite memory, but a vivid memory, was the night “The Barn” burned during the 1996 LSU game. All I could see from where I was standing was a giant black smoke cloud rising over the side of the stadium. We named the uniform we wore that night “Barn Burning Blue.” 

Growing up in Alabama, there are not many games more important than Auburn vs. Alabama. The 1996 and 1997 Iron Bowls were the biggest games that I cheered. The 1996 Iron Bowl was played at Legion Field, which was the next-to-last Iron Bowl played in Birmingham. And at Jordan-Hare in the 1997 Iron Bowl, Auburn won on a last-second field goal. There were times during that game that I could not hear my partner standing right next to me!  

At the 1996 Mississippi State game in Starkville, Aubie decided to take a joyride on MSU’s John Deere Gator. A relatively routine game suddenly turned into pure excitement as the place erupted. After multiple failed attempts by MSU security to stop his escapade, Aubie was finally escorted out of the stadium. Unfortunately, our Athletic Director, David Housel, did not see the humor in this like the rest of the AU fans did. He was waiting at our bus after the game for poor Aubie.

Liza Spencer
Birminhgam-Southern College

My favorite memory from cheering at Birmingham-Southern was the times when we encouraged each other. Whether that was on the field, in the classroom, at practice, or in life, we had each other’s backs. I don’t know if I realized it back then, but the trust that we had for each other is something that can’t be replicated. While cheering was hard and frustrating at times, the friendships and ways I grew made it worth it!

My senior year, my brother won Homecoming King at BSC, and it was so fun to watch him from the field!

The greatest (and weirdest) moments cheering at Birmingham-Southern College were all of the laughs and tears that ensued after a long practice. We all became delusional, and the way we bonded in those moments was really fun to witness. My senior year, we had to try on uniforms and t-shirts after a long practice. This practice ended with many tears as we put on t-shirts that were just a little too tight.

Rachel Stone
Auburn University

My favorite game I cheered was the 1994 Auburn vs. Florida game in the Swamp. We were 6 and 0 and on a 17-game winning streak; they were 5 and 0 and ranked number 1. Florida was a 16-point favorite and had only lost once at home under Steve Spurrier. Tiger Walk, running the team out onto the field, the famous “Two Bits Man” leading the cheers for Florida before the game—everything about that day was so memorable. The visiting team and cheerleaders were in front of the Florida student section, and they were ruthless! There was a reason it was hard to win in the Swamp, it’s loud, and the fans were yelling things at us and the football team that we couldn’t believe! It was so close the entire game, back and forth. With less than a minute left, Patrick Nix threw a touchdown pass to Frank Sanders, and my cheer partner and I were less than 10 feet from him! We were going nuts, and the Auburn fan in the stadium were hugging and jumping up and down, and Florida was silent. Definitely a moment I will never forget!

The thing I loved most about cheering was the feeling right before a big game, football or basketball. Being on the field or court, watching the players warm up, seeing the stadium slowly go from completely empty to standing room only…it was electric. I remember feeling so lucky to be able to stand there and be a small part of something so awesome! The first year I cheered, Auburn was coming off of an undefeated season, and the streak continued until we tied Georgia, so every game that year was big!

Forrest Walden
Auburn University 

My favorite memory was beating Bama my senior year 18 to 17 and storming Toomer’s Corner as a squad. We led cheers to the thousands of people rolling Toomer’s Corner!

My biggest game was when we played Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the SEC championship game and lost by one point.

My senior year, we opened with a road game against Virginia. We heard that there was a tradition on Virginia’s campus to streak the lawn and kiss the statue of Zeus, and the guys on the squad were determined to do it. While streaking, the girls stole our clothes, and we ended up running across four lanes of traffic to get back to our cars completely naked! It was amazing that we didn’t get arrested.

Mendy Walden
Auburn University

My favorite memory is the 1997 Auburn/Alabama game. Auburn was down 15 to 17, and Alabama had the ball with 1:30 left. Bama fumbled, Auburn got the ball, and our kicker, Jaret Holmes, kicked the winning field goal as time expired. We all stormed the field and then went straight to Toomer’s Corner after!

My biggest games were probably when Auburn Men’s basketball made it to the NCAA tournament and all the way to the Sweet Sixteen.  

My funniest story was when we were cheering a football game at Mississippi State in 1996, and all of a sudden Aubie comes riding out on the field from under the stadium on Mississippi State’s John Deere tractor. He was chased by the police and handcuffed in his mascot suit and taken off the field. Everyone thought it was just a mascot stunt, but it wasn’t!

Riordan Wyatt
Birmingham-Southern College

My favorite memories of cheering at BSC are all the ones that I have surrounded by my teammates. One teammate in particular happened to be a childhood friend. Liza Spencer and I had the opportunity to cheer together in high school and college. As a young high schooler, Liza was someone I greatly looked up to in all aspects of life. Once I became a part of the BSC squad, Liza once again became a great influence and friend who helped me transition from a little freshman to a leader on campus. I greatly appreciate how cheering together allowed us to foster a friendship and make great memories while also creating the opportunity for me to have such an amazing role model not only in cheer, but in life.

Each year Birmingham-Southern competes in the Wesley Cup, which is a rival game against Huntingdon College. My sophomore year of college, the BSC football team was doing especially well and was very excited to claim the title once again. It was a very exciting game to be a part of where the whole campus came together to support the team.

My second year cheering at BSC, we had the first game of the season on a Saturday night in September. It just happened to be the same day as the final day of recruitment for Greek life on campus. Both events were taking place back to back, so many of the squad members and I had to coordinate our schedules very precisely for the day. On the actual day, we were running behind and ended up running late to the game. Although stressful in the moment, it was quite funny because it led to many of the squad members sprinting across campus together in hopes of making it to the game on time. We laughed the whole way and made it with time to spare, but overall it is a memory I look back fondly at.

Erin Yost
Auburn University

My favorite memory is my name being called out at Callouts after being selected for the squad. I had worked so hard, and it was a dream of mine since I was a little girl!

The Auburn vs. Tennessee game in 2004 sticks out. It was a night game at Tennessee, and we knew it was going to be loud. Rocky Top played all night. Auburn had just beaten the previous year’s National Champion LSU, and we knew we were pretty good. That game was a big turning point in that season. It was an amazing game—Auburn beat Tennessee pretty handily, and we got to watch the Tennessee fans file out in the third quarter. All you could see was Auburn fans all around the stadium—circling around the top row of the upper deck. And Rocky Top quit playing.

My most embarrassing moment was when we visited Arkansas for an 11 a.m. game. Their student section was packed at 9 a.m. In order to go to the locker room or restroom, we had to walk in front of the Arkansas student section. I was walking toward the restroom, and the entire student section booed me, just me. I put my head down and ran!

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