EDITOR’S NOTE: Popular columnist Butch Dale has offered to share some stories about Montgomery County sports. This is the fourth of those stories.

Anyone who watched basketball at one of the small high schools in Montgomery County knows that the win-loss records of their hometown team varied extensively. The ball team may have been successful for a few years, and then suffered through some losing seasons, depending on the talent, coaching, team chemistry and sometimes just plain luck. However, the teams always had the support of the fans and the student pep block, who were led by the dedicated and hard-working cheerleaders. The cheerleaders were there to support the team, promote school spirit and excite the fans. A student needed to possess several qualities to be a great cheerleader . . . a positive attitude, confidence, commitment, dedication, sportsmanship, school spirit, and of course, fitness and athleticism. Here is one example of an outstanding cheerleader . . .
Deb Steelsmith was a cheerleader at Thorntown when she was in the 6th and 7th grades. During her 7th grade year, her family moved to Waynetown, and Deb told me that she wasn't a "happy camper" when they moved. She loved being a cheerleader, and she missed all of her childhood friends. But the kids at Waynetown welcomed her with open arms.
Andy Biddle was one of her classmates, and he stated, "Everyone was happy that Deb came to Waynetown. She was very popular, friendly, and participated in many school activities."
Deb was elected a cheerleader for the Gladiators when she was in the 8th grade. She led cheers for the freshman team the next year, and then was elected as a varsity cheerleader her last three years of high school!
Deb always projected confidence when doing her cheers for the team during a ballgame, but she did admit to being nervous when trying out for cheerleader in front of the student body. That could be a terrifying experience for anyone, but Deb came through with flying colors. The students at Waynetown knew she was a great representative for the team and the school. She always had a lot of enthusiasm and a big smile that exuded school spirit.
Deb had many great memories of her years as a cheerleader. She always looked forward to attending cheer camp in the summer . . . one year in Wisconsin and another time in Kentucky, where she made lots of new friends. She enjoyed traveling to the other small schools in the county and the great rivalries that existed in those days. She stated, "I sure wish we had all of our small schools today . . . those were the days! Our kids do not have a clue as to how much fun we had back then." She also recalled the county and sectional tourneys at the Crawfordsville gym and seeing all of the other pep blocks. Waynetown was always seated in the southeast section of the gym, which seemed so large compared to the Waynetown gym.
Cheerleading wasn't Deb's only school activity. She also was a drum majorette her junior and senior years, served as a class officer and student librarian, was a member of chorus and choir (and went to the state competition two years), and belonged to Future Homemakers and Sunshine Society. But she said her greatest accomplishment was being awarded a "5-year perfect attendance" at her graduation in 1968, which she didn't believe anyone else had ever attained. Now that's a dedicated student who enjoys school . . . for sure!
After graduation, Deb worked as a secretary at Purdue, Wabash College, at a law firm and Pace Dairy . . . and for several years now at the Courthouse. If you happen to go to the Assessor's Office, ask Deb if she will do a cheer and a cartwheel . . . for old times’ sake. She will likely take you up on that! There were many outstanding cheerleaders at the small schools in the county, but Deb Steelsmith Yerkes-Mason was one of the best . . . three cheers for Deb and the Waynetown Gladiators!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history. He writes a general column that appears in The Paper on Fridays and a local sports column on Tuesdays.