Coaching and Teaching for 33 years provided me with many wonderful moments. Many of those moments came with student Pep Rallies. We usually had Pep Rallies for big ball games or tournaments. However, once in a great while, we had a rally for other events like a kickoff for a fund raiser or a major school event like an important exam.
To be successful, a Pep Rally has to be kept short in time and very high in intensity. That would require for them to be planned out very well in advance. They also had to be strategically planned for effectiveness. There had to be a major purpose for having one. One year we had too many of them and they lost their purpose. Having a Pep Rally over two days before a game lost their intensity. They sometimes even lost it the day before. To be successful, they have to be held the day of the big event.
We always used our Cheerleaders to spearhead the rally. It was them that set the tone and maintained it through the rally. We often would have the team captains, senior players, coaches, or principal get involved in the activity. However, their appearance would be very brief.
We discovered that by having a Pep Rally that lasted 15 minutes or less were the best. We also held them at the very end of the school day. When th rally was over, the students headed for home to prepare for the evenings big game.
We would start the rally off with our Pep Band playing fast up tempo music as the students entered the gym to take their seats in the bleachers. We always had the classes sit together (Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen). We had them sit together so that we could use them for competition cheers. The staff would sit with them throughout the bleachers. This was for control purposes. Once everyone was seated the band would stop and the Cheerleaders took to the floor.
The Cheerleaders had about 6 cheers and an activity planned. The activity would be in the middle or towards the beginning of the rally, depending on how long it would take to complete the said activity. Here is a list of some of the activities.
1. Quickly pass out a sheet of toilet paper to each student. When all were passed out, a cheerleader would take the microphone and yell, “This is your ticket for the Bowl Game Tonight.”
2. Competition cheer between the classes. They would be very simple. Freshmen would yell Go, Sophomores would yell Team, Juniors-Fight, and Seniors-Win. The class that yelled the loudest got the spirit stick to keep until the next rally was held. We would also have competition yells between the boys and girls, too.
3. Brief skits by the teachers/staff that lasted about 3 to 4 minutes. They would often dress up like Cheerleaders and do a cheer before the student body.
4. A Pep Talk by the Coach. Usually this was a motivational and fire and brimstone effort to motivate the students.
5. Other brief activities would be like a balloon blowing contest and then quickly popping them at the same time. A student pyramid built on mats to see which class could build theirs the quickest. Whatever activity was planned, it had to be quick.
We either ended the Pep Rally with the school loyalty being sung, the cheerleaders doing a cheer, or the band playing as the students left the gym. This was done to keep them fired up.
Again, the secret was to keep it short and with high intensity to make a rally a success. One of the things that I often hear about from students as they have graduated is that they miss the Pep Rallies they use to participate in. They are memories that last a lifetime.