Stipulation made Elliott cheer, defined work as a sport

Vickie Elliott coached two state championship teams, 11 district champions, was named Coach of the Year three times, and was inducted into the Oklahoma Cheerleading Hall of Fame. And that’s just part of what he did.

Elliott’s career started way back when she started peewee cheerleading as a kid, right? Rarely.

“Growing up, I never thought about cheerleading,” Elliott said. “I played basketball in high school.”

Elliott, who was Vickie Dunlap at the time, was the daughter of an Air Force lifer, and attended several schools around the world, including England, in her early years. When his father, who was a native of Tahlequah, retired, the family returned to Tahlequah, where Elliott attended Tahlequah Middle School and High School.

In her junior year as a Lady Tiger, she tore her ACL, which ended her basketball career. After graduation, he attended Northeastern State University, earning a double major in biology and chemistry.

When he graduated, Elliott said he was like, “Now what? I thought to myself, ‘What am I going to do with biology and chemistry majors?’

Elliott said he was on the waiting list for medical school when he decided he might want to try teaching. He applied to the Tahlequah school, and got interviews with Joe Duncan and John Pierce. At the end of the interview, Duncan told her that he had his place in the science department, but there was something he wanted.

“He said I should also coach cheerleading,” he said.

He thought she was joking, and told her he knew nothing about cheerleading.

“He wasn’t kidding. He told me it was okay, that I was going to be okay,” Elliott said.

She met the outgoing cheerleading coach who handed her a booklet, told her that they had already chosen the captains, but they weren’t happy about it, and there was already a game.

“She said, ‘But here, now I have to go look after dinner,’ and that was my introduction to cheerleading,” Elliott said.

He said that cheerleaders never competed, never went to any competitions, or any extra activities. The team had two boys, senior Heath Miller and junior Ray Robinson, both tumblers.

“They were all great drummers in the band, so they would dance with the band and cheer with the band’s players,” said Elliott.

Overall, the team was good, he said, so when he received the announcement of the district competition in Tulsa, sponsored by the Universal Cheerleading Association, he sat down with the team and told them they were really good, and asked if they would like it. go to the competition.

The team went to the district tournament and won.

“Here I was 23 years old and I was in my first year coaching cheerleading, and I was the coach of the Regional champions,” said Elliott.

“We have to go to Orlando, Florida, to compete in the National Finals,” he said. “There were 74 teams in our division, and we finished 16 out of 74, and we had never competed before.

In 1986, a group of Tahlequah cheer parents petitioned the Tahlequah school board to hold a cheerleading tournament.

“OSSAA hadn’t recognized cheerleading as a sport yet, and Tahlequah was one of the first schools in the state to make cheerleading a sport,” Elliott said. “Then in the 1989-’90 school year, the OSSAA held a cheerleading tournament, giving us our championship.”

Tahlequah cheerleading won back-to-back state championships, and were runners-up several times.

“I feel that the runners were more difficult than the competition,” he said. “Those State Runner-Ups are important to me.”

In 1997, Elliott opened a cheerleading school in Tahlequah, Cheer It Up, a business that trains young cheerleaders. He retired from Tahlequah High School after 38 years, but is still active in Cheer It Up.

Elliott said he was uncomfortable being in the spotlight, and was speechless when he was told he was being inducted into the Tahlequah Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I am honored,” he said. “And I’m proud of the program that I started and it’s still going strong.”

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