DURHAM, N.C. – After 30 years of exemplary leadership of the cheerleading program at North Carolina Central University, LuAnn Edmonds-Harris has announced her retirement. One of her former cheerleaders and longtime assistant coach, La’Tasha Bynum, has been selected as NCCU’s new head cheerleading coach.
A Durham native and 1975 NCCU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, Edmonds-Harris began her professional career at her alma mater as an admissions counselor in 1986, and became the cheerleading head coach in 1992. A member of her family has worked under the leadership of one of the Presidents/Chancellors since founder Dr. James E. Shepard.
“LuAnn is an iconic representative of Eagle Pride and Eagle Excellence,” said NCCU Director of Athletics Dr. Louis “Skip” Perkins. “For more than 30 years, she has faithfully devoted her career to her alma mater and has made a significant impact on the lives of thousands of students she has mentored, cared for, and embraced as her own. She placed NCCU cheerleading on the map as a program of class, creativity and distinction. We are truly grateful for LuAnn’s dedicated, valued, and enthusiastic service to NCCU.”
Edmonds-Harris shared an emotional and heartfelt farewell to the current cheerleading squad on Monday evening.
“Having served as the head cheerleading coach since 1992, I have met some extraordinary individuals who have touched my heart and my life,” Edmonds-Harris said. “I was afforded the opportunity to share my spirit and enthusiasm with the young women and men in the cheerleading program, and I truly enjoyed watching their development through participation with football and basketball games and community events. I am going to miss working with the students, coaches, and conference peers, but I have forged so many cherished relationships through the years that I will continue to carry with me.”
When asked what it meant to her to have Bynum take the helm as NCCU’s head cheerleading coach, Edmonds-Harris said, “Everything!”
“I remember meeting La’Tasha when she came to NCCU as a freshman,” Edmonds-Harris continued. “She was an outstanding cheerleader – very classy and creative. She served as captain in her junior and senior years, then started her coaching career after graduating from NCCU. She gave of herself and made so many sacrifices, it is wonderful to see her come full circle as a coach. I am forever grateful for everything she has done. I knew that as my time as a coach came to a close, there was no one more deserving of the opportunity to be the next head coach than La’Tasha. I know her legacy will speak for itself and I’m so excited about the newness of the program as they continue to dare to be different.”
A Winston-Salem native and 2006 graduate of NCCU, Bynum was a four-year varsity cheerleading letterwinner and two-year captain, earning the most valuable cheerleader award and all-conference honors during her senior season. She joined the NCCU cheerleading coaching staff as a volunteer in 2006, overseeing the junior varsity squad before becoming a varsity assistant coach in 2012 and being elevated to associate head coach in 2017.
“La’Tasha brings more than a decade of coaching experience and an unmatched familiarity of the NCCU cheerleading program to this new leadership role,” said Perkins. “We are thrilled to have her continued service to her alma mater, as she builds upon the solid foundation established by her mentor and creates a legacy of her own.”
“Words cannot express my gratitude for such an incredible opportunity,” said Bynum. “I remember in 1996, at the age of 12, attending the CIAA Tournament Cheer Exhibition in Winston-Salem with my mom. When the NCCU cheerleaders entered the court to perform, I remember saying to her, ‘I want to be on that squad one day.’ Never did I envision that in 2002, that wish would come true. Under the leadership of Coach LuAnn Edmonds-Harris Raley, being a member of the NCCU Cheerleaders was an experience that I will cherish forever.
“I owe much of who I am today as a woman to this program,” added Bynum. “In 2006 when Coach LuAnn invited me to assist with the JV cheerleaders as a volunteer coach, I never imagined that journey would lead to this moment. LuAnn Edmonds-Harris Raley is a true legend at NCCU and in the world of ‘stomp and shake’ cheer. Becoming the successor of such a name is an honor I do not take for granted. She has led 30 years of some fantastic cheerleaders and established a program that is one of a kind. A great foundation has been laid, and I am excited to continue building upon such a great legacy and the tradition of excellence. I thank Dr. Louis “Skip” Perkins, NCCU Director of Athletics, for the opportunity to serve at my esteemed alma mater, and I look forward to working under his leadership.”
In recognition of her many years of dedicated service to NCCU, Edmonds-Harris will be honored during an upcoming home athletic event. Details will be announced at a later date.