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Ronald Reagan, Cheerleader
AP Photos, Bob Galbraith (left)

Ronald Reagan was an American hero and political icon. The 40th President of the United States became the voice of modern conservatism as a staunch anti-communist Republican and earned the nickname “the Great Communicator” for his speaking abilities and affable personality.

Reagan’s diverse background is well documented. He served in the military and is still the only president that was first a movie actor. He was twice elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, and the film industry is how he met his wife and future First Lady Nancy Reagan. He then transitioned from a Hollywood acting career to politics when he was elected as Governor of California in 1966.

Before serving the American people in the White House, though, President Reagan was a well-rounded student at Eureka College, where he was a member of a fraternity, played football and was even a cheerleader.

Ronald Reagan’s Childhood

Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois to Nelle Clyde and Jack Reagan. His father nicknamed him “Dutch” for his “fat little Dutchman” appearance as a young boy. He became a Christian thanks to the influence of his mother.

In 1927, he nabbed his first job as a lifeguard, a period of which he rescued more than 70 people. At Dixon High School, Reagan developed his varying interests in acting and sports.

Ronald Reagan’s Cheerleading Days in College

Yes, it’s true. President Ronald Reagan was a cheerleader in college.

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After high school, Reagan attended Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois. He became a popular figure there, serving in a fraternity, playing football and swimming for the school and was elected student body president before graduating in 1932. What many don’t know is that Reagan was also a cheerleader there.

Male cheerleaders weren’t uncommon back in the day. According to The Society Pages, cheerleading was a male-only sport until the 1930s and was seen as masculine as football.

Still, it must be a little shocking to see the young man they called “The Teflon President” who survived an assassination attempt in a cheerleader outfit.

Other Presidents Who Were Cheerleaders

Plenty of U.S. presidents were athletes before entering the political realm. Richard Nixon played college football, Gerald Ford won a national championship playing football for Michigan, Jimmy Carter ran cross-country in college and Barack Obama won a basketball state championship in high school.

Reagan wasn’t the only president to serve as a cheerleader when he was younger. George W. Bush donned the pom poms in college, as did Dwight D. Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt.

Clearly, Reagan’s cheerleading days didn’t stop him from accomplishing his goals. He went on to do whatever he wanted.

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He was a motivational speaker for General Electric factories after his acting career. In 1962, Reagan switched from being a Democrat to the Republican Party and spoke for Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964.

It wasn’t until 1981 that Ronald Wilson Reagan was elected president at 69, making him the oldest American president to take office until Donald Trump did so in 2016.

Never forget, though, that Reagan was a cheerleader before he was a Hollywood star, served in the military or served as the 40th President of the United States.

MORE: Nobody Threw Ceremonial First Pitch Strikes Quite Like President George H.W. Bush

Patrick has spent parts of the last four years covering University of Florida athletics and spent two seasons with Major League Baseball. He's a baseball junkie who spends his days defending Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins. A recent Gator grad, Patrick currently resides in Gainesville, Florida.
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