The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by paying homage to some of the greatest supporters of athletics in Tennessee State history.
With the start of football season just days away, it is fitting that this moment honors the hard work and dedication put in by the Aristocrat of Bands and the TSU Spirit Squad.
In the fall of 1946, after six weeks of practice, a 100-piece marching band took to the field at Tennessee State University and a tradition of excellence was born.
The idea for a show band at TSU originated with its second president- the late Dr. Walter S. Davis. President Davis selected J. D. Chavis to serve as the first band director. Under Chavis' leadership, the marching band grew and developed into a premier university band that gave spectacular performances in parades and half-time shows at football games.
In 1947 and 1948, the marching band performed in the Washington Classic in Washington, D.C., where top historically black colleges and universities competed for national championships.
Chavis' tenure as band director ended in 1951 and the baton was passed to Frank T. Greer. Tennessee State University's distinctive style was further developed under Greer.
Four years after Greer began his work, the TSU band was invited to perform during the half-time show of a Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams professional football game. The performance was the first of a series of nationally televised half-time shows for the band. It was also the first time a historically black university band had appeared on national television.
Between 1956 and 1978, the TSU band performed half-time shows for nine professional football games, including the 1963 National Championship game between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. Reportedly, it was during one of these half-time performances that a sportscaster called the marching band from Tennessee State University "The Aristocrat of Bands".
"The Aristocrat of Bands" has also appeared in the Coca' Cola Circle City Classic in Indianapolis, the Atlanta Football Classic in Atlanta, the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami, the Heritage and Blues Bowls in Memphis and the Grantland Rice Bowl in Wichita Falls, Texas.
For the Spirit Squad, Tennessee State University Cheerleaders encourages Big Blue spirit by pumping-up the crowd at home football and basketball games and representing TSU at local and national cheerleading competitions.
The cheerleaders work alongside other on-campus spirit organizations to ensure that Big Blue Pride is abundantly felt by deserving student-athletes, alumni, and community.
TSU Cheerleading adds an element of enthusiasm and excitement unique among traditional spirit organizations.
Dwight Pope is in his 18th season as head coach for the Tennessee State University Cheerleaders under the department of Student Activities. He holds his AACCA and NCSSE certifications in cheerleading. Along with his many tasks at the university he is also a camp manager for the National Cheerleading Association (NCA), Cheerleading Coordinator for the Tennessee Rattlers Semi-Professional Football Club and founder of the Back to Basics Cheer Camps.
The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.
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