The Carolina Panthers have posted a gallery of photos from their recent uniform photoshoot. Click here to check it out!
Michael Hamtil/Photo Editor
On the field, at games, and at auditions, we often see photos of the game faces and poses of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders — the ‘peak action’ they are so good at and are paid to do.
Shooting it is what we call fish in a barrel. The hair, the legs, the smiles, the bods, the moves … they are so perfect, polished and well-executed all the time that there’s usually little variation in the expected images, despite the ever-changing cast of cheerleaders.
Tryouts are another story. They offer a small glimpse of what is happening off the stage and because it’s more uncommon that is what interests me more. Not to be trite, but the best photojournalism is often about showing us more than we already know. Yes, really good photos of the commonplace are always fun to look at and any photos of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders will always be super popular with their fans. But to journalists, getting past the surface is our real challenge. Many readers will always want to know as much as they can about the cheerleaders, and would eat it up if we were able to visually:
• follow a cheerleader through a full game day
Andy Jacobsohn had a chance to shoot cheerleader auditions today and he turned in an array of photos covering both performance action and context.
Here are some of his peak action images, and some that begin to touch on the unexpected. [Photo Gallery]
Special to UC.com
On April 9th, the final audition was held for 2016-2017 Washington Redskins squad. Japanese native, Azusa made the team as one of eight rookies. The Washington DC area will be her new home for the next few years as she dances on the sidelines at FedEx Field in support of the burgundy and gold.
At the age of 5, Azusa started classical studio ballet in Tokyo. Since then, she has always loved dancing, performing and growing her technical abilities. In her college years in Canada, she didn’t have the opportunity to dance. She focused on her education but she missed performing and knew in the not so distant future that she would begin dancing once again. Her college degree landed her a reputable job for a major Japanese electrical company. Three years after she started working as a sales representative traveling to many countries like Germany, UK, Switzerland, Italy, China and Korea to conduct business, she began focusing on her love for dance again. She auditioned for IBM BigBlue cheerleaders, an American Football cheerleading team in Japan, and made it on her first attempt. From there her cheerleader life began.
In regards to cheerleading, Azusa said, “In the very beginning, I tried out because it looked like fun, but little by little, I was hooked.” During the summer of 2014, she took a Redskins Cheerleader workshop in Japan, which a former Japanese Redskins Cheerleader Maki Nakayama hosted. Then she started to think about trying out for the National Football League…with her eyes on the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. She wanted to as well prepared for the auditions as possible, so in addition to taking numerous dance classes in Tokyo, she also applied for a spot on Sideline Prep’s Professional Cheerleader Coaching Program. She received one-on-one and group advice from Sideline Prep, pro cheerleader alumni, and other participants in the group. This also enabled her to have the “inside scoop” on auditions on the east coast. It was a great support system for preparing to be a pro cheerleader.
In January 2016, she attended Sideline Prep’s Pro Cheer Audition Prep Workshop where she was able to learn from and meet the top coaches in the DC area. Then in March 2016, she flew to Washington D.C to attend prep classes and try out for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. As Azusa thinks back to the auditions held at the beginning of April, she said “There was a moment where I exceeded my limit but I have always believed in myself and slowly but surely, I pushed myself through. After many hours of preparation and practice, now I’m happy to be a member of the First Ladies of the Football and can’t wait to perform at FedEx Field in front of fans!” Her journey as Redskins Cheerleader just has begun.
By Angelique Fiske
The offseason is a busy time for Patriots cheerleaders, but it’s even crazier for Cheerleader Jessica. After being crowned Miss New Hampshire in November, Jessica is set to compete in the Miss USA pageant beginning June 5.
Jessica is in her second season with the Patriots cheerleading squad, and though she just began competing in pageants four years ago, she is ready to represent New Hampshire on the national stage.
“New Hampshire has never won Miss USA, so I am there to make history,” Jessica said. “We haven’t placed in a very long time, and I’m ready to bring it home. I think New Hampshire has a lot more than people may think.”
This history has not hindered Jessica. In fact, she has consistently pushed back and fought to achieve the goals she has set for herself.
“I really pride myself on three words: drive, dedication and determination. This plays true with the Patriots. I tried out four times before I made the squad. I push through to get what I want,” she said. “My parents will say I’m a stubborn girl and I push to get what I want … Anything can happen as long as you stay driven and focused to believe you can get what you want. It’s still surreal that I’m going, but it’s an incredible journey that my friends, family and cheer sisters are going on with me.”
Her family with the New England Patriots, she said, has been crucial to her preparation for Miss USA. Jessica said she has received nothing but support and motivation from her fellow cheerleaders, Cheerleader Director Tracy Sormanti and the organization as a whole.
“The Patriots and the Kraft organization have been so supportive. Tracy is one my biggest cheerleaders. Sometimes people think girls are catty and jealous,” Jessica said. “I can tell you, my cheerleader sisterhood is so supportive. I wouldn’t be as confident as I am without them.”
Jessica said she has been tackling the mental part of the competition by getting in mindset that she has already won the crown.
“I feel like I’m Miss USA already. For the past couple of months, I’ve presented myself as if I were Miss USA,” she said. “You have to believe it, believe in yourself and believe things are possible in order for them to happen. I’m confident but not overly confident. I’ve worked hard for this.”
The Miss USA competition airs on Fox on June 5 at 7 p.m.
The Minnesota Vikings have a fantastic gallery of photos from the ladies’ recent team calendar shoot. Click here to check it out!
By Jim Varsallone
Told by doctors as a youth that she would never walk again, a determined and inspirational Jennifer Chang not only walks but dances and cheers, making the world-renowned Miami Dolphins cheerleading team.
It’s been some journey for the talented young lady.
She and her family (mom, dad, sister) defected from Cuba to Miami 11 years ago. They stayed with her uncle in Palmetto Bay. Assimilating to their new country, she learned a new language while learning to walk again.
Jennifer and her family overcame plenty, sticking together and supporting each other. During the final auditions for the Dolphins cheerleaders on Sunday, May 1, they proudly watched Jennifer make the team.
Final auditions for the 2016 version of the Dolphins cheerleaders were at the Miniaci Theater at Nova Southeastern University in (South Florida) Davie. The practice/training facility for the Dolphins’ football team is across the way.
Residing in Kendall and studying to be a nurse, Jennifer, 20, is a graduate of Palmetto Sr. High School and Miami Dade College.
Of 70 beautiful finalists, she was one of 40 selected for the team. They will attend the Dolphins Cheerleading Training Camp. There are no mandatory cuts at training camp, but if a team member does not attend or can not pick up the cheers/dances, she can be cut.
Twenty of the 70 who qualified for the finals were from other countries. The Dolphins became the first NFL team (and pro sports team) to host auditions internationally, traveling to Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Eleven of the final 40 chosen were from the international auditions.
Dolphins cheerleading summary
The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders at the Miniaci Theater at Nova Southeastern University selected 40 lovely and talented women to advance as Training Camp Candidates. These ladies will participate in a seven-week boot camp that consists of workouts, etiquette training, team building, uniform fittings, look development and performance training. Cuts are not mandatory but are possible during training camp.
The 40 were selected from the largest turnout for Miami Dolphins Cheerleader Auditions.
More than 800 ladies registered to be the next Miami Dolphins Cheerleader, as the organization became the first NFL team (and pro sports team) to host auditions internationally, searching for enthusiastic, charismatic and talented women in Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and South Florida to represent one of the most prestigious teams in the NFL.
Jessica and Monica are two women with Miami roots who are firmly planted within the Miami Dolphins Cheerleading infrastructure.
Jessica was chosen for the squad on May 1 for the fifth consecutive year and Monica heard her named called for the fourth time.
Nothing is given. They again earned it.
Just because you were a member of the team the previous year does not automatically grant you a spot for next season’s team. There are no multi-year or guaranteed contacts with NFL cheerleaders. If you want to remain a member of the team, you have to tryout and show well.
Jessica and Monica did just that.
Jessica, a graduate of Ronald Reagan High School in Doral, is a college student.
Monica, a Braddock High School graduate, is a long-time cheerleader. Starting with the Tamiami Colts youth cheer program, she also cheered for Beckham Elementary School, W.R. Thomas Middle School and Braddock. She joined Heidi & Joe’s Dance Center, specializing in hip hop, jazz and tap. A flyer on the cheer team, she took gymnastics as well.
Very beautiful, Monica twice graced the cover of the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar. Her mom, Lily, who cheered from the crowd for her at the audition finals on May 1, is very proud.
Final auditions for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders took place yesterday. And if you don’t want to know any more about what happens before the CMT reality show airs in a couple of months STOP READING NOW NOW NOW.
Look away, scroll down, close the tab, do whatever you have to do to preserve the mystery for yourself.
For those of you still with me, this is how it broke down. There were 34 Cheerleaders on last year’s team. Ten retired and one left the team before the end of her contract. The remaining 23 veterans competed in finals this year, joining 48 rookie candidates, for a total of 71 ladies in contention for a spot in training camp.
In the morning, the dancers did solo talent presentations for the judges. In the afternoon, they performed the choreographed dance and kickline they learned for semifinals. Finals are always grueling for the DCC, and at the end of a looooooooong day, 47 women were invited to training camp. That includes 21 veterans (unfortunately two were not invited back) and 26 aspiring rookies.
Veteran and rookie candidate photos are below. For the rookies, I included information on their experience on other pro or semi-pro teams and how many times they’ve been to the DCC rodeo. As always, additions and edits are welcome.
Here’s part 2 of our “Florida Retirees” who did not audition this year:
Sister-Sister, Paige and Courtney from the Dolphins:
Antasia, line captain from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Line captain Karen from the ROAR of the Jaguars:
Hannah, Jacksonville Jaguars ROAR:
Check back with us for part 3
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