The “Herkie jump” (also sometimes spelled “Herky jump,” and incorrectly as “Hurkie jump” or “Hurky jump") was invented and named after Lawrence Herkimer of Dallas. Herkimer was a cheerleader when Southern Methodist University had great football teams in the 1940s. His athletic jump was named the “Herkie” in his honor.
Lawrence Herkimer made many cheerleading innovations or improvements, such as “pom-pons,” “spirits sticks,” and “booster ribbons.” He founded the National Cheerleader’s Association and formed a Dallas company to produce cheerleading products.
Jump and Tumble Definitions
Herky (aka: Herkie/Hurkie) A jump where your weak leg is bent towards the floor and your strong leg is out to the side as high as it will go. Some call it a hurkie. Done like a toe touch, but one leg comes up and the other bends with the knee facing the ground. Named after Cheerleading legend Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer.
The Herkie (aka Hurkie) is a cheerleading jump named after Lawrence R. Herkimer, the founder of the National Cheerleader’s Association. This jump is similar to a side-hurdler, except that instead of both arms being in a “T” motion, both arms are opposite of what the leg beneath them is doing.
An example of this would be the straight arm would be on the side of the bent leg, and the bent arm is on the side of the straight leg. One other variation of this includes the bent leg is pointing straight down, instead of out like the side-hurdler.
The jump is speculated to have been invented because Herkie wasn’t able to do an actual side-hurdler.
Common misspellings include: Hurky, Herky
Texas Monthly (October 1989)
The Herkie Jump
by Joe Nick Patoski
Herkimer first developed the Herkie jump at North Dallas High School in the early forties. Being the shortest kid in the class had led the young gymnast to a career on the sidelines, exhorting crowds to show their school spirit. He perfected the move at SMU, where he was head cheerleader during the Doak Walker era. “Actually, the Herkie was the natural way I jumped in college,” Herkimer says. “I used to jump real high. Whenever I did, I would swing my right arm up to help me get off the ground, and it would jerk my right leg up behind it. The right arm is the counterweight, the spark for the take-off. Before I knew it, people started imitating me.” One imitator dubbed the jump the Herkie in honor of the role model.
Herkimer’s reputation for rousing fans spread to Huntsville, where Sam Houston State band director Clint Hackney recruited Herkimer to work with cheerleaders at Hackney’s drum majors and baton twirlers camp in the summer of 1947. Herkimer’s talent for motivating cheerleaders was obvious from the start. Four years later his training program had become so successful that Herkimer quit his job as a physical education instructor at SMU to found the National Cheerleaders Association.
Cheerleading has been very, very good to the 63-year-old Herkimer. Today his Dallas-based organization, operating under the corporate banner of National Spirit Group, is a $55 million business that annually trains 150,000 cheerleaders in 49 states—all but Rhode Island—as well as in foreign countries, including Germany, Japan, Colombia, New Zealand, and Australia. It outfits them in uniforms manufactured in company-owned knitting mills. It supplies them with Pom-pons (the crepe-paper-on-a-stick creations that Herkimer still holds the patent for), buttons and ribbons from the cheerleading-association factory (Herkimer takes credit for originating the concept of booster ribbons), and custom-made cheerleading shoes and accessories.
11 June 1963, Dallas Morning News, section 3, pg. 1:
CHEEARLEADERS: They Dress Well
by Gay Simpson
Cheerleaders are made, not born. Neighbors of the Lawrence Herkimers, who live at 11766 Valleydale, can vouch for this.
Almost since they learned to walk and talk, daughters Mailyn and Sharon Herkimer have been learning school yells and cheerleader routines from their father who has taught some 200,000 high school and college cheerleaders from 42 states in the past 14 years.
8 July 1965, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 9, col. 6:
They couldn’t say enough good things about instructor Lawrence Herkimer, that all time-great cheerleader a few years back, who travels the circuit each summer teaching at cheerleader camps throughout the country.
“Herky” as he’s known to his students also gained fame as an Olympic gymnast. “He can jump in the air like he’s on jets!” the girls marvel.
18 August 1967, Fresno (CA) Bee, pg. 14A, cols. 3-4:
Lawrence Herkimer, a pioneer in conducting cheerleading clinics, heads the two schools held in California each summer for cheerleaders in the Western United States. he is a past high school and college cheerleader and tumbling champion. Herkimer’s stuff includes college and professional people from the National Cheerleading Association headquartered in Dallas, Tex.
15 December 1968, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “Cheerleading Schools Are Adding Finesse to That Old ‘Yeh, Team, Fight!’,” pg. 16A, col. 1:
He is Lawrence Herkimer and each fall you can walk around the Southern Methodist University campus and see hundreds of lithe, spirited girls learning to be more lither and spirited under Herkie’s schooling.
Herkie, as his associated call him, has established such schools in 43 states and several foreign countries, and it seems there is no limit to the number of girls who want to cheer for weekend heroes on the gridiron.
12 August 1973, Dallas Morning News, section G, pg. 1:
Herkimer in on Ground Floor
Cheerleading: A Big Business
by David Clark
Lawrence R. “Herkie” Herkimer seldom does back flips anymore, but part of his business has been built upon teaching others how.
And its success is truly something to flip over.
Herkimer—creator of the school “spirit ribbon,” popularizer of the “pom-pon,” and founder of a split-jump seen by hundreds of thousands of football fans annually—is also the man who has institutionalized cheerleading, turning this science of enthusiasm into a multi-million dollar business.
And the National Cheerleaders Association, founded by president Herkimet in 1951, is in its peak season, too, distributing thousands of cheerleading books and pamphlets (of which seven or eight are Herkimer authored or co-authored).
At each clinic this summer, for example, the school team showing the most spirit during the clinic will be awarded the coveted “Spirit Stick,” an award which Herkimet began by picking up a piece of wood on a campus where he was teaching and giving that piece of wood immeasurable value.
“We started teaching at places where there were no trees, so we had to end up making them (the sticks).” Today, the sheer volume of the clinics has necessitated the manufacture of 3,000 “Spirit Sticks” annually. They are painted red, white and blue, look like Olympic relay batons, and carry the embossed seal of the NCA.
Herkimer, in 1966, demonstrated the “Herkie,” a split jump named in his honor. Ruston, La., high school cheerleaders hold the “Spirit Stick” they won at that year’s SMU cheerleading clinic.
6 January 1984, New York Times, “A Texas Turns Cheerleading Into Big Business” by Peter Applebome, pg. B6:
And he will be immortalized in cheerleading lore for the Herkie Jump (one leg thrown out forward, the back leg crooked at the knee), which is a staple of cheerleading squads.
8 July 1990, New York Times, “Turning Rah!—the Fourth R—Into Sumertime Profits” by N. R. Kleinfield, pg. F7:
The origins of the National Spirit Group go back to 1948 and Lawrence Herkimer, a former Southern Methodist University cheerleader with a round, expressive face. Maybe the name means nothing to members of the physics club, but Mr. Herkimer did some stupendous things for cheerleading. He invented the pompon. And he devised one of cheerleading’s most popular maneuvers—the inimitable Herkie Jump.
The jump was conceived while Mr. Herkimer was a crack cheerleader in college during the mid-1940’s, when cheerleaders were predominantly men. To execute it, you swing the right arm upward to being your leap, and as you depart the ground, your left hand clutches your hip while the left leg is propelled out parallel to the ground and the right leg is drawn back.
In 1986, Mr. Herkimer sold his company to the BSN Corporation, a sporting goods concern, which in turn sold it in June 1988 to the New York-based Prospect Group, an astonishingly diversified enterprise that owns a railroad, grows mushroom, hunts for gold and sells Swiss Army knives.
He had a candy bar—the Herkie Bar—named after him that did O.K. for a few years before being dropped.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Sunday, August 26, 2007 • Permalink
I was an instructor for the NCA during the summers of 1967 and 1968. I would LOVE to connectt with others who taught during this time. I have so many fond memories. Does anyone remember our HUGE group portraits that we presented to Mr. H. during those years? I’ve wonder where they are today. And I wonder where all of you are today. If you are one of that gang, I’d love to hear from you. Talk soon?