Lawrence Herkimer, cheerleading innovator, Died at 89

Lawrence Russell Herkimer was born on October 14, 1925, and died on July 1, 2015.

He was an American innovator in the field of cheerleading.

Lawrence created the Herkie cheerleading jump, which was named after him, and received a patent for the pom-pom.

Lawrence described his contribution to the field as taking it “from the raccoon coat and pennant to greater heights”.

He was born in Muskegon, Michigan.

As a cheerleader at Southern Methodist University, Lawrence developed what became known as the Herkie by accident while intending to perform a split jump.

The move features one arm extended straight up in the air and the other on one’s hip, with one leg extended straight out, and the other bent back.

At SMU, Lawrence formed a national organization for cheerleaders and created a cheerleading-oriented magazine called Megaphone.

Lawrence started his first cheerleading camp in 1948 at Sam Houston State Teachers College (now Sam Houston State University) with 53 participants, funded with $600 he had borrowed from a friend of his father-in-law.

By the following year, enrollment had grown to 350 participants.

Shortly thereafter, Lawrence was making more money from his summer programs than he was teaching the remainder of the year at Southern Methodist, so he gave up teaching and took up the cheerleading business full-time.

His camps had as many as 1,500 instructors teaching tens of thousands of students nationwide each summer, and his Cheerleader Supply Company was successfully retailing skirts and sweaters for cheerleading squads.

Lawrence sold his cheerleading camp program in 1986 for $20 million.

It was originally purchased by the BSN Corporation, which sold it to the Prospect Group in June 1988, with Herkimer staying on to run the business.

By 1990, Lawrence expected the business to bring in $50 million in revenue.

Lawrence Herkimer passed away due to heart failure on July 1, 2015, at the age of 89, in Dallas, Texas.