Frequently, a high school cheerleader who wasn't up to the more gymnastic tasks of collegiate cheering. She probably wanted some extracurricular niche other than the Model Rocketry Society or protesting the fate of East Timor. Sweet Caroline Rhonda Baker is typical. "I can't do the flips and splits," she says. "But it's nice to cheer and show some pep. And I wanted to be part of a close-knit group without joining a sorority."
How is she chosen?
By application and interview. Depending on the school, anyone from coaches and professors to coaches' wives and incumbent hostesses do the choosing. Extracurricular and academic achievement are important, but performance in the interview—"strong interpersonal communications skills" is the buzzphrase—weighs heaviest.
So, they 're carefully screened?
Very carefully. A Crimson-n-Cream hopeful might be flunked if she thinks a wishbone is what's left after a meal at Col. Sanders. At Georgia, coaches interview three at a time to see who shines in a group. And to test each applicant's knowledge of football, they ask questions. "But nothing hard," says Georgia Girl Cicely Walker, "like "Who's the quarterback?' "
The competition can be so fierce—the odds are longer than 15 to I against becoming a Tiger Hostess at Missouri—that these sessions often evolve into a sort of Gong Show. There was the aspiring Horned Frog Associate who was asked why she was studying art and music. "Oh, I don't know," she said. "I guess so that, the next time I go to Europe, it'll all make more sense." (Sound that gong.) And the prospective Crimson-n-Cream hostess who was asked what she would do if a prospect asked to go back to her room. "I'd call all my friends and make sure he had a good time!" (Get her outta here.)
Georgia Tech assistant AD Scott Zolke, who used to help the Yellow Jackets prospect for Solid Gold, tried to catch candidates off guard by asking each one to name her favorite organ. He got a lot of "heart," "lungs" and "brain" in reply. The one who said "Hammond" was a lock to make the squad.
So she's not a bimbo. Will she at least be a babe?
That's in the eye of the beholder or at least the recruiting coordinator. Every coach protests that looks aren't that important. Yet ask any of them who has the best-looking hostesses in his conference, and he'll say, "We do."
Some groups do, however, stick out. At Clemson the Bengal Babes' pulchritude goes two deep, perhaps because the players help choose them. At Missouri, Tiger Hostesses administrator Joe Castiglione says, "Appearance is important but isn't weighed heavier than anything else. Of course, if a girl hasn't washed her hair in two weeks...."