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Spirit Sticks for Cheerleading: Tradition and Trends

Spirit Sticks for Cheerleading: Tradition and Trends
Apart from the pom-poms, other cheerleading accessories include 'spirit sticks'. They are not only important for the team but also the audience's favorite part. Let us have a look at what exactly spirit sticks for cheerleading is.
Tanaya Navalkar
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2018
Saint Patricks Day Parade
Believe It Or Not!?
If you drop the spirit stick, it brings bad luck to your team. The spirit stick signifies the spirit of the team, and you wouldn't want your spirit to fall down (i.e. fall to the ground).
So remember, never to drop your spirit stick! Call it superstition may be.
Cheer leading has become competitive and athletic-wise over the years. These days spirit sticks are used in school or college competitions or rallies by the cheerleaders. It is an important aspect of a cheer camp. It brings the team together and keeps their morale high. Every cheerleader might know the honor of receiving a spirit stick. A spirit stick is awarded to a person or a cheering squad having the highest team spirit, or the one who performed the best and whose hard work was evident. It is also given to the audience cheering for their respective teams. You can purchase spirit sticks from a store or you can make one for your team from scratch. We will see how to make spirit sticks, but first, let us see how spirit sticks came into existence.
History of Spirit Sticks
In 1945, Lawrence Herkimer, the grandfather of cheerleading, created the first spirit stick at National Cheerleading Association (NCA). Here's an account of how it all started. A number of teams of all levels participated in a cheer camp. They learned the routines and fitness tips of cheerleading. However, one cheerleading squad, which was not performing up to the mark stood out from the other teams. Since they were lagging behind, they came early and stayed back till late for practice. Their spirit and enthusiasm soon spread in the camp. Herkimer was highly impressed by their undying spirit and energy that he wanted to reward them with a token which represented the spirit that every cheerleader must have. He then cut a small branch of a tree, painted and decorated it, and awarded it to the team. Hence, began the tradition of awarding spirit sticks at camps.
It has become the most desired goal that all cheerleading squads crave for. They are not just judged on their dance routines and performances, but also the attitude and hard work that they have put in. It has even become popular in individual teams, wherein a single member of the team gets awarded for showing the best team spirit. These days, teams have come up with their own unique ways of creating spirit sticks. More intricate designs and decorations can be seen on the sticks. They are either passed down to the juniors every year, or are created every season. They are mostly decorated with their school or team colors.
How to Make Spirit Sticks?
The sticks can be made more treasure-worthy and meaningful if you create them from scratch. You can involve small kids in making the sticks. They will add their own variations and creativity to it. You will need simple things like beads, streamers, empty paper towel rolls, colored tissue paper, glitter, ribbons, and tape. If you want to make a sturdy stick, then you will need wooden dowel or a PVC pipe. They are light-weight and durable.
  • Paint the wooden dowel or the paper towel rolls with desired colors or in colors of your team or school.
  • Let the paint to dry, and apply a second coating.
  • Decorate the stick the way you want to with beads, glitter, ribbons etc. You can even add your team name, or the signatures of cheerleaders to personalize them.
  • Seal the dowels neatly with a packing tape so that the decoration doesn't come off.
To make noise makers, you will need beads, gravel, or sand that will make noise when passed.
  • Seal the stick on one end with a tape.
  • Fill the stick with beads, gravel, or sand, and seal the other end neatly.
  • Paint the stick at the ends and decorate it with colored tissue papers, streamers, or ribbons.
  • You can even fill with candies or gumballs of different colors or in colors of your school or team. This would make a perfect stick for small children.
You can even purchase inflatable cheering sticks or even the ones that make noise, and decorate them as you desire. You may even get glowing sticks of any colors, a great way to identify your team quite easily in that huge crowd. And what's more? They are reusable as well. Pass it on or use them the next season!
Native American Spirit Sticks
Spirit sticks were used by Native Americans to get rid of the impurities, invite rain, or to repel evil spirits. They were mostly used during healing ceremonies or prayer sessions. They were first made in wood and decorated with feathers and beads. They were even used during religious services or celebrations while dancing around bonfires.
Now that you know everything about spirit sticks, we hope you come up with some amazingly creative ideas of making and decorating your spirit sticks. And always remember - Keep up the spirit!