In 1963, the newly born Kansas City Chiefs get their first cheerleader—a man named Randy Neil

Backstory Providedbyrandyneil
Photo provided by Randy Neil

“My love for cheerleading began while I was a student at the University of Kansas—I was in the pep club and became an alternate cheerleader. I wanted to be a cheerleader because I was too small for football and basketball but loved all sports, so cheerleading was the next best thing. Cheerleading is about leadership and school spirit and, of course, fun.

“So when I heard about Lamar Hunt’s decision to move the Dallas Texans to Kansas City in 1963, I felt a duty to inquire about cheerleaders for the organization. I eventually wrote Hunt a letter volunteering to put together a squad, but I never expected a response. When the response came, I thought that Hunt had merely let me down easy. Then I opened it and was positively mortified. Within the letter, Hunt instructed me, ‘Go to it.’ The encouragement set in action the plans prepared for this scenario. I handpicked eighteen cheerleaders, both male and female, from high schools and universities around the area and began working on routines, uniforms, everything necessary to be properly incorporated with the Chiefs organization.

“This crew made the Kansas City Chiefs the first professional football team with male cheerleaders, and we hit the ground running. Initially all unpaid volunteers, we visited numerous community events, including awarding trophies at the Kansas City Rodeo, in order to gain publicity for ourselves and the infant Chiefs football team. As our popularity grew, I held local tryouts to narrow down the growing number of applicants.

“At the end of the 1963 season—one of my favorite moments with the Chiefs Cheerleaders—Hunt displayed his characteristic humility and came onto the field at Municipal Stadium to individually thank the cheerleaders for their work for the Chiefs organization. The entire team shared Hunt’s respect for the group—everywhere the players went, the cheerleaders went, come hell or high water.”

-Randy Neil, author of New York Times bestseller The Official Cheerleader’s Handbook, as told to RJ Haskin

Categories: History, People, Sports