Cheering for scholarships
Alumni remain active to help today’s cheerleaders.
A friendly invitation helped her decide. In the midst of a string of college visits, Lynn Bailey Leitch debated whether to close her day at Ohio State with one more activity: The all-star high school cheerleader from Cincinnati was invited to a practice of the Buckeye cheerleading team.
“My mom and I were sitting in the car outside the French Field House, thinking about whether to go into the practice session or head home. It had been a long day,” she said. “Then all of a sudden, there was a smiling face at the car window.”
It was Andy Masters ’03, who asked her, “What are you doing out here? Let’s go in!” That did it, she said. “I decided then that Ohio State was where I belonged.”
Leitch cheered from her freshman year until she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2004. These days, as part of the OSU Cheerleading Alumni Society, she performs to help current student-athletes worry less about finances.
Leitch enjoys connecting with former teammates and spreading goodwill, especially to children. “The kids look at us like we’re rock stars,” she said. “It’s such an easy and fun way to be able to give back.”
Why are scholarships important in cheerleading?
Cheerleaders cover football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, women’s volleyball and even a swim meet, soccer game or wrestling match here and there. When you mix in time for practices, lifting, classes and studying, you don’t have hours available to do much else. That’s a big reason the OSU Cheerleading Alumni Society raises scholarship money for our athletes — so they don’t have to worry about working while in school.
Where do you perform and how much is raised?
We team up with the alumni band to perform at 10 to 20 events a year, including elementary school pep rallies, private parties, business openings, parades and corporate luncheons/team-building sessions. We charge a fee to do this, with 100 percent of that going into our scholarship fund. In 2014, we raised nearly $7,000, and our goal is to fund a full-ride scholarship.
How long have you been involved with the Cheerleading Alumni Society?
I immediately joined when I graduated. When there was an opening on the board in 2006, I increased my involvement, starting as treasurer, then becoming vice president and president. Now I’m a past president and board member.
What does being a Buckeye mean to you?
Being a Buckeye means family to me. My college roommates are still my best friends, and we travel around the country to see each other every year. I may go years without seeing a former teammate, but when I do, it’s like not a day has passed. Ohio State makes you feel like part of a big family. Being an alum makes the family even bigger.
Are there other Ohio State alums in your family?
My husband, Andy Leitch, is a Buckeye. We met during our senior year. This fall my cousin started her freshman year. We are so excited to have her at Ohio State and watch her fall in love with the university just like we did.