Cheer Squads see Grey Cup as Uniting Force

Teams from rival clubs join in spirit of friendship

By Ben Gelinas
Edmonton Journal

Think of the Grey Cup’s Cheerleader Extravaganza as a family reunion, only the girls get tossed two storeys in the air and the outfits are probably a little skimpier.

Saturday night’s hopper of a show, featuring squads from all CFL clubs, has become an annual highlight of Grey Cup festivities. The point isn’t for the different cheerleaders to compete so much as mingle and perform their best stuff, in a celebration of the only sport in support of a sport.

Cheerleader Extravaganza is the baby of Edmonton Eskimos cheer coach Dianne Greenough, who has coached the Eskimo squad since 1996.

In her first full year on the job, the Eskimos made it to the Grey Cup in Hamilton. When she got there, Greenough was disappointed to find that only the teams actually playing in the big game brought their cheerleaders on the trip.

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“It just seemed rather strange to me that these people who dedicate so many hours all year didn’t have a chance to celebrate things together,” Greenough says.

The Grey Cup was in the Edmonton the following year, and Greenough challenged every team in the CFL to send their cheerleaders for the party, regardless of which teams actually played the game. All the teams sent their cheerleaders, and have done so every year since.

The Extravaganza is the only time during the year that all the squads come together. They raise money through calendar sales to pay for the trip. In the past, the event has been held in beer gardens and bars. This year it was the kid-friendly gym at Grant MacEwan University’s downtown campus.

Saturday night, they shared one stage in front of packed bleachers, and took turns hauling out the fireworks: dazzling routines that showcased the variety between the different teams.

Calgary’s squad, called the Outriders, tipped their Stetsons. BC Felions literally bent over backward.

Edmonton’s cheer team has well over a dozen guys, who bolster a powerful stunt component in their routines.

They toss girls around like human batons, high enough to give the godfearing in the audience time to say a prayer for a safe landing.

Edmonton and Saskatchewan are the only teams with men and the only teams that stunt.

The rest focus heavily on dancing, and some, like Calgary, on gymnastic tumbling.

The show began with a team of junior girls, ages 8 to 11, also coached by Greenough, followed by mini-routines by Eskimo cheer alumni from as far back as the 1950s.

Ashley Croden, 44, performed to a Michael Jackson medley with fellow Eskimo cheerleaders from the 1980s, on the same mat her daughter, 11-year-old Grace, had just tumbled off as part of a junior squad from Greenough’s Perfect Storm Athletics.

“It’s pretty cool to have someone who can help you perfect your moves and stuff,” Grace said of her mom after the show.

For veteran Eskimo “stunters” Dylan Fry and Mitchell Dewing, Saturday marked one of the last times the guys will perform as Eskimos.

“For me, it’s the best part of the whole season,” Dewing says. “We get to see what everyone else is doing and kind off feed of that and support each other.”

Friendships have been made between squads because of this event. The rival squads even stay in a hotel together, home team included, to make sure they all get up and organized on time.

“It’s like family. You see these people for a full year, or a couple years straight,” says Robin Norsworthy, an Eskimo cheerleader in 2006. “You’re always with them.

“And once you’re alumni, everyone kind of just separates a little bit. At events like this, you see people you haven’t seen in years and it’s like no time at all passed.”

Outside M&T Bank Stadium with the Ravens Cheerleaders

A little detour to Baltimore on my way back from Thanksgiving in Virginia. I caught up with the Ravens Cheerleaders before they hustled inside for their 4:15 against the Buccaneers.

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Four Ravens Cheerleaders who are also graduates of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.

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Continue reading Outside M&T Bank Stadium with the Ravens Cheerleaders

Southeast Pro Dance Workshop in Orlando This Saturday

stheast-dance-2010-1Are you a current, former or prospective professional dancer or cheerleader? Does your team need hot choreography? Would you like to meet others in the industry or hear about audition opportunities?

Then get ready for the Southeast Pro Dance Workshop in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, December 4, 2010!

AGENDA
** Learn choreography from elite alumni and directors
** Representing the NFL, NBA, AFL, MISL, MLS, MLB and AIFA
** Get tips from the pros on fitness, nutrition, makeup, attire and more
** Network with other performers from the east coast (and beyond!)
** Receive giveaways from sponsors including attire and cosmetics
** Directors receive complimentary lunch sponsored by Angela King Designs

COSTS
** Morning (9:00am-12:00pm): $45
** Afternoon (1:00pm-4:00pm): $45
** Full day (9:00am-4:00pm): $79
** Directors: Bring 2 or more squad members and receive complimentary admission. All directors receive complimentary lunch and director’s roundtable session sponsored by Angela King Designs.
** Refund Policy: 75% of registration fees may be refunded through November 29, 2010

CHOREOGRAPHERS
Our choreographers are top alumni and directors of dance and cheer teams in the NFL, NBA, AFL and other sports leagues. They will teach 6 sidelines and 2 routines in length of 45-60 seconds, representing all major sports leagues. Read choreographer bios and view photos here!

Trisia Brown, NFL Cheerleader – Miami, NFL Pro Bowl Cheerleader, NFL & Pro Bowl Choreographer, Dance Studio Owner-FL

Danielle Berger-Meyer, NBA Dancer – Orlando & Atlanta, NBA Choreographer – FL

Miranda Lobs, NFL Cheerleader – Miami, CIFL Choreographer and Director, – NJ

Deanna Clover, NBA Dancer – Orlando, WBA, AFA, & ABA Choreographer and Director – Orlando

[Complete Choreographers Bios]


PRESENTERS

Featuring experts in the area of hair, makeup, attire, and interview skills:

Megan Clementi – expert in interview skills. Miss FL USA 2010, current Orlando Magic Emcee, former Magic dancer 5-yrs/team leader

Chyna – expert in Fashion and Hair design.  A top hair dresser at Ego Lab Hair Salon and Boutique in Orlando.

Michael Cairns – expert in creating the perfect headshot.  Premier sports photographer in Orlando with clients that include the Orlando Magic Dancers.

LOCATION
Body Tecz Training Facility
3869 Wekiva Springs Rd
Longwood, FL 32779


HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS

Magnuson Grand Hotel Orlando
230 W. State Rd. 436
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
1-407-862-4000

Just 11 minutes from the training facility
Mention the “Going Pro Entertainment December Convention” to receive the group rate

[Complete Workshop Information]

Remember when … the Cleveland Browns had cheerleaders? Really, they did!

Bill Lubinger
The Plain Dealer
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Pat Otto was on a business call a few years back when she noticed the bubble-wrapped frame on the floor of her client’s Lakewood office.

“I said, ‘Oh, my God, is that…?'”

It was — in all it’s sexless glory — an old Browns cheerleader outfit. Otto, an account manager for an employee-benefits firm, hadn’t seen one since she turned hers in after the 1971 season.

She was Patti Adamson then, a 17-year-old Rocky River senior and a Cleveland Browns cheerleader. She was one of 19, or 20, or 32. It’s been so long, no one seems to remember exactly.

The Browns? They had cheerleaders?

Yes, believe it or not, but they’re a mere footnote in the team’s storied past because they vanished faster than a fourth-quarter lead.

And because the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, they were not.

“We had them one year. They looked crazy. It was ridiculous,” Pat Modell, wife of the former Browns owner, said recently. “It was so cold in Cleveland that it almost looked like they were wearing wooly pajamas.”




Art Modell said in a recent phone interview he didn’t even remember the team having cheerleaders. Although some of the former cheerleaders recall being told at the time that it was her creation, Pat Modell said it was hatched by someone on Art’s staff.

“Whose idea was that?” she called out to Art in another room. “It was the biggest flop.”

Maybe, but a nugget of Cleveland football history nonetheless. And still meaningful — maybe more meaningful to some — with the passage of time.

“It was a blast,” said Robin Byall Paisley, a ’73 Rocky River grad and now a nurse in Portland, Ore. “To be out there in front of that crowd. At that age. Oh, wow, a Cleveland Browns cheerleader.”

The group was mostly juniors and seniors from local high school drill teams and cheerleading squads. They practiced on Saturday mornings at Edgewater Park, learning basic dance routines to the songs of director Frank Strasek’s Cleveland Browns pep band.

Perks were few. With no access to a dressing room, they had to arrive on game day in uniform.

And, oh, those uniforms. Strictly Pittsburgh Steeler-chic: white satin knickers with brown stripes down the side, brown knee socks, orange turtleneck sweaters, orange and white pom-poms and saddle shoes.

“It was really unflattering,” Paisley said. “We kind of looked like referees.”

The cheerleaders performed only at home games. They weren’t paid, but were allowed to bring a chaperone, which their dads, brothers and boyfriends lapped up. They went largely unnoticed, except by Steeler fans, who, as one former cheerleader recalled, tossed garbage and beer cans at them.

Paisley and her older sister, Lynne, Otto and a few friends were all recruited by their Rocky River pom-pom coach, who they believe had a connection to the Browns.

So the teens didn’t have to try out. But they did have a page-and-a-half of rules. Among them: No gum-chewing or consuming alcohol while in uniform. No excessive jewelry. No grooming on the field. No fraternizing with or dating the players. And, apparently, no cheering.

“One thing we could not do, we could not incite the crowd beyond, ‘Go Browns!'” said Lynne Byall Benson, now a college professor in Boston.

It’s not like they didn’t have something to cheer about that year. The Browns, under new head coach Nick Skorich, finished 9-5 before losing to the Baltimore Colts, 20-3, in the playoffs.

The cheerleaders were gone after 1971. Some actually quit before the season ended because it was so cold. They weren’t allowed to wear coats unless they all matched, but were told the Browns wouldn’t buy them.

They were to turn in their uniforms at season’s end, but Benson was so upset when the Browns reneged on a promise to invite them to the team’s year-end banquet that she kept hers. It’s still in a trunk at home.

The Browns have no record of the 1971 cheerleaders. No photographs. No mention in the media guide or game programs. They haven’t had cheerleaders since — one of the few NFL teams without them. The others: the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and the Steelers.

The Browns actually fielded cheerleaders before 1971, but that fact has been misreported.

Former Plain Dealer Sports Editor Hal Lebovitz, answering a reader question in 1979, wrote that the Browns had majorettes with a team band starting in 1946, but only the one season with cheerleaders.

The Plain Dealer’s Emerson Batdorff reported in 1960 that the team debuted “a talented crop” of six cheerleaders that season, in white sweaters, brown corduroy shorts and white earmuffs.

The Browns have a 1962 photo of four women who fit that description. One was Elaine Hybil, now Elaine Arndt of Wisconsin. They were all Brush High School majorettes who got to be Browns cheerleaders because the school band director played in the Browns’ pep band.

There were six cheerleaders in 1961 and four in ’62, including Sheila Lefkowitz, now Sheila Myers of Beachwood, who said her sister was also a Browns cheerleader in the late ’50s.

“They probably were there so the women had something to watch while their husbands were intent on the game,” Batdorff wrote back then. “Coach Paul Brown thinks of everything.”

The experience in 1971 was definitely a mixed bag, said Rocky River grad Rita Salah, now Rita Allen, a retired consultant living in Belgium.

“Part of me doesn’t want to admit that I did this,” she said. “And part of me is pleased to say that I did.”

Chelsea is the Redskins Pro Bowl Cheerleader

Congratulations to 5-year veteran and co-captain Chelsea who was announced as the Redskins Pro Bowl Cheerleader this past Sunday at the Minnesota-Washington game.

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[Chelsea at Redskins.com]

Laker Girl Profile: Bria

This is the second post of a weekly LA Times series that helps you get to know the Laker Girls
Mark Medina
LA Times Lakers Blog
November 28, 2010

2010-laker-girls_bria_300Laker Girl name: Bria

Years on squad: Five seasons

Hometown: Los Angeles

Resides in: Harbor City

College/high school: Graduated UC Irvine; St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey

What prompted you to want to become a Laker Girl? I used to dance for the Los Angeles Sparks, as a SparKid when I was younger … and looked forward to one day auditioning to become a Los Angeles Laker Girl. It seemed like the only, right next step up for me as a dancer.

At your audition, what do you think stood out about you to the judges? I feel that my positive energy showed through my performance. Also, I hope in my interview they could tell I was a team player.

What do you think makes a good Laker Girl? Definitely being a team player and a good role model for your teammates … but, more importantly, for any Lakers fans and children that interact with us.

What is your dance experience? I started dancing when I was 7 years old. I am trained in ballet/pointe, modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop and other stylized genres (character, flamingo, etc.).

Favorite dance routine while a Laker Girl? There was a dance routine we did a couple years ago called “Ciara Mix” that was really fun to perform because it was fast and high energy — like a lot of our routines!

Favorite uniform? My favorite uniform was one we called the “Mac ‘n’ Cheese” dress uniform. (We called it that because of the color.) Plus, it’s my favorite food! (ha ha)

Favorite Laker? Derek Fisher

Favorite Laker Girl memory so far? It would have to be walking down the stairs, while we entered the L.A. Coliseum for the 2008-09 NBA Championship Celebration! Not to mention performing in front of all those fans! It left me speechless, and it was an incredible experience.

What do you like most about being involved, as a Laker Girl, at local charity/community events? I love being able to meet the dedicated fans up close and personal. I especially enjoy meeting kids that we can impact and that look up to us for more than just our dancing. I guess I would say that I really feel appreciated by them all — and that alone is priceless.

What would you say is your beauty secret?
Being genuine and really caring about others — that is beauty to me.

What diet/workout tips do you have? Take dance classes for exercise. It keeps you active in a fun way that you won’t become bored. You should try a zumba class, pilates or yoga.

What are your hobbies? Volleyball, swimming, running, and I enjoy doing hair and makeup.

Career aspirations? I would like to open an optimal performance training facility that offers rehabilitation and dance classes for athletes (especially dancers). I also plan on going to medical school.

–Mark Medina

Survivor: Nicaragua – Brenda’s Exit Interview

Debra Yeo
The Toronto Star

Brenda Lowe had at least one shocking thing to say about her experience on Survivor: Nicaragua … NaOnka is nice.

No, she says she means it. Brenda

I asked the 27-year-old paddleboard company owner whether she felt genuinely close to NaOnka or hanging out with her was just part of Brenda’s strategy.

“No, I genuiniely did. What people don’t see is that, believe it or not, this is a shocker, she is actually a nice girl. She’s sweet and she’s kind and she’s funny, and I know all about her life and her past, and I felt like we were girlfriends, the way I was girlfriends with Kelly Purple. I thought that that’s the way that it was out there.

“I really did trust her, I really did, really really did trust her to the point where I was like, there’s no way this girl would vote for me.”

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But, of course, we all know that NaOnka did vote to have her friend’s torch snuffed. And that Brenda voted for Na, calling her “my real true enemy.”

But on Tuesday, she said there were no hard feelings. Really.

She thinks the turning point for Na came in an exchange we didn’t see on TV, when their mutual ally Sash was off ziplining and eating with the other guys for winning a reward challenge.

“I did sort of talk to NaOnka … and I was like, ‘Look we might not be able to trust Sash depending on what he says after he comes back from this challenge.’ She looks at me and she’s like ‘Really?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, really, we gotta be prepared to take him out if we have to’ and she’s like ‘Wow.’

“Luckily Sash came back very trustworthy and I said, ‘Listen Na, forget about what I said, we can trust him.’ And she’s like, it was already too late, she went and told Sash, and she was already starting to get paranoid about me thinking too much and thinking about even taking out Sash, our friend.”

Nor does she blame NaOnka, she says, even though in the end Na and Sash took our their friend Brenda.

“I mean she’s playing a tough game. Everyone is playing a game whether we see it or not. And they must be playing a better game, because they’re there and I’m not, so I think that says something about them. I just underestimated most everybody out there, I think.”

When it comes to her other formerly staunch ally, Sash, Brenda believes he must have been in another alliance unseen by her and the TV audience. Otherwise, why would he have put himself at risk by allowing her to be voted off?

“These people are trying to target you by targeting me,” she says she told Sash.

“I was like why? Why? Sash is smart, why would he allow this to happen? But it has to be that he has other alliances, it just has to be like that.”

We also talked about the whole issue of scrambling, a word Brenda said she hates. She was ribbed by Jeff Probst at tribal council for not “scrambling” to save herself.

“There was a reason why I didn’t scramble and this is why. It was frustrating to watch the whole episode. It’s like, there’s a reason why, Jeff. You can’t expain it right then and there, but my strategy for staying in the game was going to the people who had incentive to save me, which was Chase and Sash.

“And Sash more than anybody because he had the idol and I could have used it for him to save me really. And I was trying to show them, ‘Look, I’m loyal to you. I’m not talking to Benry, I’m not talking to Fabio, I’m not talking to Holly and Jane, I’m talking to you and you only.’ …

“So if I was go scrambling it would have killed it, they would have seen can’t trust Brenda, what is she telling these people, and not having a big enough incentive to save me.”

There’s one other thing Brenda would like to set the record straight on: the impression that she’s arrogant.

“I definitely see it when they only show certain soundbites and if you see a guy who’s as sweet as Chase and me saying not the nicest things about him, um, yeah you definitely see it and a lot of people might not understand my personality or the way that I looked at it.

“This is a game, if I feel confident I’m gonna feel confident, that’s just the way I am. Some people like it and some people don’t like it. I really hate arrogance and it’s a little upsetting that I came across that way to anybody.”

Playing Survivor was a dream come true, said the former Miami Dolphins cheerleader and beauty pageant winner, who counts paddleboarding, mountain biking and swimming among her hobbies.

“I’m a competitor. I love physical things. I love playing games. I make competitions out of who can run fastest to that mailbox … So for the ultimate game like Survivor and having to do the challenges and plus having to do alliances and all that, plus c’mon the prize is a million dollars.

“It was a no-brainer and, like I tell people, I would have done Survivor for free.”

The bad part, as other castmates have complained, was the lack of sleep.

“The sleeping, it just drives you nuts. You’re exhausted and then to have rain that doesn’t stop and you’re freezing cold and everyone around you is miserable. The energy in the air is depressing. And that is the worst.”

Still, if she got the chance she’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I learned, I saw and felt and lived the mistakes, and know what I would do a lot differently, so yeah, I would love that second chance.”

The Silver Stars Deliver Pure Gold for the Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic's Silver Stars end their routine to big applause

The Orlando Magic's Silver Stars end their routine to big applause

On a night when Dwight Howard would rattle the backboard with emphatic dunks, and the end of the Magic-Jazz game would come down to the final seconds, the loudest, most spontaneous, deafening crowd reaction of the night at Orlando’s new Amway Center was during the first quarter.  The Magic and Jazz weren’t on the court, as they were over at their respective benches during a time out.  The focus of the crowd’s attention was group of performers a little bit older than the players, but the homestretch of their routine created a reaction from the fans so voluminous, it would have scared away an approaching hurricane.

Four hours earlier, in an empty arena, things were much quieter.  In mid-afternoon on November 10th, the Silver Stars of the Orlando Magic, were on the shiny, pristine NBA court, rehearsing for their performance that night.  The Silver Stars are a squad that performs at the Magic games, and are comprised of local men and women who have put their day jobs behind them and are enjoying retirement in central Florida.  Initially, down to the south on the turnpike in Miami, the Heat first introduced a squad of retirees to perform during their NBA games.  Certainly it was a natural to have a senior squad in central Florida, too, and Orlando Magic Dancers Manager Jeanine Klem-Thomas formed the Magic’s Silver Stars in 2005.  The Silver Stars all reside in the same retirement community.  Jeanine says, “The Villages of Lady Lake is one of the largest and most prominent retirement communities in the United States with residents from across the country.  We reached out to them as it seemed like a perfect fit and location to find members for the team!”

Continue reading The Silver Stars Deliver Pure Gold for the Orlando Magic

2011 Lady Wildkatz Auditions

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[VaLadyWildKatz.com]

Video: Summer with the ChivaGirls

It’s cold here. (Well, cold by Los Angeles standards.) When it’s cold outside, I start thinking back to summer and warmer days. And when I think about last summer, I think “ChivaGirls.”

I got to go to quite a few Chivas USA games, and it was really a fun time. The ChivaGirls and their Director welcomed me like a member of the gang, and trusted me with a level of access that was truly an honor.

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There are photos from the Chivas USA vs. Seattle Sounders game, where the local dance teams got to perform with the ChivaGirls during halftime, and the dance team from the NBADL Bakersfield Jam drove down for a visit.

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There are photos from Chivas USA v DC United, where thousands of tiny little senors and senoritas performed before the show.

This is also the game where the Chivas folks tried to get me into one of those fluorescent yellow vests the photographers wear. I was all jazzed like “hey, check me out, I have a vest like the pros!” And then I realized that the reason they want me to wear it is the reason I don’t want to wear it.It’s so they can spot me when I sneak into places I’m not supposed to be. Like on the field during pregame. Drat.

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There are photos from the Chivas USA v. New England Revolution game aka heroes night in honor of our SoCal firefighters and police. The girls wore shirts courtesy of the Orange County firefighters.

The arena was pretty empty that night, so the ChivaGirls had to work extra hard to get the fans into it.

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There are photos from the Chivas USA vs Los Angeles Galaxy. There was a lot of craziness leading up to an extra special halftime performance that night. Chivas USA and the Galaxy share the Home Depot Center. The Galaxy doesn’t have a dance team, so Chivas USA wanted to show those Galaxy fans what the were missing. Fans of both teams LOVED the half time performance. Unfortunately for me, Murphy’s Law was in full effect, and I had some technical difficulties and didn’t get as much of it as I would have liked (Grrrr…)

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Toward the end of the summer, I got one of those nifty little Flip video cameras. The girls were my cheerful guinea pigs while I figured out how to work the thing. I trailed around behind them, capturing the performances, the rehearsals, the random moments, and the hard work that goes into everything they do. I saw girls who weren’t feeling well, girls with their hair in curlers, and girls who better stop crossing their eyes at me or that footage is going to start showing up on the internet.

Over the long weekend for Turkey Day, I finally found some time to sit down and think about what to do with all of the video I shot over the summer. Watching the video clips reminded me how much fun the summer had been, and I decided to put together a little highlight reel for the ChivaGirls. I am no Sasha Ford Coppola, so this turned out to be a bit more difficult than I expected. However, after learning some new software and producing several sad attempts, I finally managed to produce the video below as my thank you to the ChivaGirls for all the good times.

For them, it’s meant to be a reminder, sort of a video scrap book, something to show their friends and loved ones what they’ve been up to. For the rest of you, who are every bit as nosy as I am, it’s a peek behind the scenes on game day. From field rehearsals, to autographs, to Chiva Town, to rehearsing in that tiny little closet of a “suite,” to pregame and halftime, it’s a little slice of life as a ChivaGirl.

Had a great time, wish you were there!

Annual auction is extra special for one particular Sea Gal

Tessa Harrington’s involvement with the Sea Gals and their charity auction on Dec. 6 is a way to remember Travis Britt, her high school boyfriend who died of cancer.
By Clare Farnsworth
Seahawks.com
Nov 27, 2010

Tessa Harrington’s charitable work as a member of the Sea Gals isn’t just a labor of love; it’s a way to remember a lost love.

tessaHer involvement with the Seahawks’ dance team began because of Travis Britt, her high school boyfriend who died from a form of bone cancer in 2007 at the age of 19. Her continued commitment – including serving as co-chairperson for the Sea Gals’ 22nd annual charity auction on Dec. 6 – allows Harrington to honor his memory.

“A lot of people love giving back and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, it means a lot,’ ” Harrington said. “But I think being connected with where the money is going it just means so much. Travis is there with me while I’m doing this.”

The charity auction, which benefits Broadview Women’s Shelter and the Sea Gals’ Children’s Hospital Guild, will be held at Fox Sports Grill, 1522 6th Ave. in Seattle. The silent auction that begins at 5:30 includes sports memorabilia, spa packages, weekend getaways and restaurant and hotel certificates that have been solicited by the Sea Gals, and will continue through halftime of the Monday Night Football game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots. There also will be a live auction during halftime as well as raffle drawings for prizes throughout the evening.

“One of my favorite things with the Sea Gals is fund raisers,” Harrington said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s totally beneficial.

“And because of Travis, we spent our whole senior year at Children’s Hospital. So it’s very fun to give back, because just going through that we received so much support. So it’s like an honor to have the opportunity to give back.”

Harrington, 23, began dancing at the age of 6 and was a member of her school dance teams in junior high and at Kentridge High School. It was Britt’s stepmother who suggested she try out for the Sea Gals, right out of high school.

“The Seahawks were very active with Travis’ treatment,” she said. “They would visit him at Children’s. And in 2006, his Make-a-Wish (request) was to go to the Super Bowl. He was going even before the Seahawks went, so he looked at one of the players and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to the Super Bowl. I’d really like it if you would go.’ ”

The Seahawks did just that, beating the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game at Qwest Field to advance to the franchise’s first Super Bowl – against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ford Field in Detroit.

“So we went to a lot of Seahawks’ games that season,” Harrington said. “His stepmom said, ‘Hey, you should try out for the Sea Gals.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ It was just random. I saw an article in the paper about the tryouts and I just showed up.”

She’s still showing up, because of Britt.

“He was very proud of me,” she said. “Travis loved the Seahawks. He was a huge fan. So I think me making the squad is something I do in his honor.”

Harrington credits her enthusiastic outlook on life to watching Britt handle his situation.

“I’d be crying and he’d say, ‘Why are you crying?’ Then he’d make me laugh,” she said. “He just had a great outlook, and I think that’s where I get my outlook in life – from him.”

Harrington’s life includes finishing the program to get her teaching credential at the Des Moines campus of Central Washington University, with her student teaching starting in January and graduation set for June. She also is a part-time nanny, coaches a dance team and works in marketing at Snoqualmie Casino.

But there’s always time for the annual December visit to Children’s Hospital for the Seahawks’ Captain’s Blitz.

“I still see some of the nurses and doctors from Travis’ time there,” she said. “So it’s very special.”

Meet the 2011 New Orleans VooDoo Dolls Dance Team

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By: Brandon Rizzuto
New Orleans VooDoo
November 23, 2010

The New Orleans VooDoo held its final audition for the 2011 VooDoo Doll Dance Team on Saturday at Mardi Gras World in front of over 300 spectators, and the field was narrowed down from 27-to-20 young ladies to represent the VooDoo this upcoming season.

“We have selected an amazing group of young women to represent the VooDoo, and we were thrilled to see so many VooDoo fans in attendance,” said Rachel Vicknair, Director of Corporate Sponsorships and the VooDoo Dolls. “We have already received several appearance requests and can’t wait to get the Dolls out and about in the community.”

The 20 ladies to make the team are: Jenna from Boutte, Jasmine from Kenner, Danielle from Metairie, Tia from New Orleans, Amanda from Meraux, Rayne from Mereaux, Nia from Baton Rouge, Brittanie from Marrero, Megan from Luling, Sabrina from Kenner, Ashley from Metairie, TaylorAnne from Los Angeles, Victoria from Montz, Shelley from Metairie, Abby from Des Allemands, Nicole from New Orleans, Jamie from Harvey, Brittney from Destrehan, Brittany from Thibodaux, and Brooke from Lafitte.

Of the 2011 VooDoo Doll Dance Team, five were former VooDoo Dolls: Jenna from Boutte, Jasmine from Kenner, Danielle from Metairie, Tia from New Orleans, and Amanda from Meraux.

“I’m very excited to be a VooDoo Doll again. There are a lot of things to look forward to this upcoming season, both on and off the field. The excitement is back,” said Jenna from Boutte.

“It just means everything to be a VooDoo Doll and to represent the New Orleans VooDoo this season. I’m so passionate about dancing and also the VooDoo being back! I’m very honored to be able to represent the team,” said Ashley from Metairie.

“I’m so happy to be able to dance for the VooDoo. The opportunity is awesome, and I’m very thankful to be selected. The season cannot begin soon enough,” said Nia of Baton Rouge.

Stay tuned to the official New Orleans VooDoo website: www.aflvoodoo.com for photos from the first official VooDoo Doll photo shoot, courtesy of Romaguera Photography, and bio information on the 2011 New Orleans VooDoo Doll Dance Team.

Richelle Grant’s One Day at a Time Attitude Leads to a Memorable TopCats Decade

Richelle Grant, Coordinator/Choreographer of the TopCats

Richelle Grant, Coordinator/Choreographer of the TopCats, on a cool November 7th Panthers game day

Especially during the NFL season, the time of the members and management of the cheerleading squads is so very precious.  So when I asked Richelle Grant, the Coordinator and Choreographer of the TopCats (the cheerleaders for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers), if she would answer some questions for UltimateCheerleaders.com, I definitely wanted her to respond at her own convenience.  But Richelle actually asked me to give her a deadline, responding, “I’m journalism major, so working in a news station environment has made me that way.”  Richelle could not have been nicer, and you can tell her attention to detail have served her well in her TopCats career.

Richelle is in her tenth season of varying roles with the TopCats, starting as a member of the squad, and eventually becoming part of the squad’s management.  Read on to learn about Richelle, while also featuring photos of some of her squad and their captains.  Richelle filled us in on her TopCats career, including being part of a Super Bowl team, and answers the eternal, burning question, “Does the top cat of the TopCats have a pet cat?”

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UC.com: Tell me about your life’s journey from New York to Charlotte?

Richelle: I was born in Queens, New York and my family moved down South when I was two years old. I was raised in Columbia, South Carolina, and moved to Charlotte shortly after graduating from college. I don’t have many memories of New York City, except for during the summer months when I would visit my grandparents. My grandfather would walk me and my brothers to the pizza parlor every Friday. And I remember clearly the huge slices of cheese pizza that I had to hold with two hands, and the grease running down my arm. When I visited New York last spring, I had to relive that experience.

UC.com: Tell me about your cheerleading/dance path to NFL choreographer?

Richelle: I became interested in dance when I was eight years old. My path began as a cheerleader for my brother’s Pop Warner football team. From there, I began taking dance classes. Once I started high school, I became heavily involved in cheerleading and competitions.

UC.com: I understand you were on the sidelines when you attended the University of South Carolina; were you on the cheer squad or the dance squad?

Richelle: In 1999, I was on the JV Cheerleading squad at the University of South Carolina. I cheered one season with the Gamecocks. It was a memorable experience, especially when the cheerleaders and marching band would form the tunnel for the team to run out to the dramatic “2001”entrance. Having the involvement of the student body and fans always made our game days electrifying!

South Carolina's homecoming game when Richelle (lower left) was on the sidelines

South Carolina's homecoming game when Richelle (lower left) was on the sidelines

UC.com: What did you study at USC, and what are your favorite memories from college days?

Richelle: I studied Journalism and Mass Communications at USC. Aside from game days at Williams-Brice Stadium, my favorite memories are those from my senior semester of college. The journalism students did a daily newscast which aired on campus. Each morning we researched newspapers and the AP news wire to find stories and report on them. This included shooting the story, interviewing people and editing packages. This type of “hands on” training was beneficial in preparing me for the next step after graduation.

UC.com: I would think it would be an easier transition from college dance squad to NFL squad than from a college cheer squad.  Does it matter what previous experience a potential NFL cheerleader has?

Richelle: My transition from a college cheer squad to the NFL was very smooth. Prior dance experience is helpful, but it’s not necessarily needed in order to try-out for the NFL. Many of the TopCats have different dance backgrounds. Some danced from the time they were three years old, and some had no dance training. In my opinion, whether you have a strong dance background or not, the best way to prepare to be an NFL Cheerleader is to do your homework. Study the organization that you are trying out for, take dance classes so that you can train your mind and body to learn and retain choreography, and lastly, but most importantly, maintain a healthy workout regime. A person should be at their best, physically, when auditioning. Not only does it show on the outside, but the judges see it on the inside as well.

UC.com: When you tried out the first time to be a Panthers cheerleader, did you make it?

Richelle: Yes. I was fortunate to make the Panthers cheerleading squad the first time I tried out. I had always dreamed about being a cheerleader for the NFL, so this was a very important goal of mine. My second year at the University of South Carolina, I didn’t make the cheerleading squad so that prompted me to audition for the Carolina Panthers. At the time, I was a full time student, and I lived in Columbia. Like a 19 year old, I didn’t map anything out nor did I try to figure out how I was going to commute back and forth from Columbia to Charlotte. All that I knew was that I loved football, I wanted to dance, and I was determined to be on someone’s roster. My family supported me in my decision, providing my grades did not suffer, so that was enough for me.  I’m a “one day at a time” type of girl when it comes to my career. I never imagined being with the Panthers for ten years. I fell in love with this organization and their family-oriented values from day one. My teammates were not just teammates, but they were my family. Because I joined the Panthers at a young age, I grew up with this organization, and my experiences have shaped me into the person I am today.

UC.com: What are your most memorable moments as part of the TopCats?

Richelle: There are too many to list, but the one experience that I  could relive over and over again would be going to the Super Bowl! The fans, the team and the community were at an ultimate high! You anticipate the experience and imagine what it will be like, but until you’re actually living it, it doesn’t come close to your imagination!

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Continue reading Richelle Grant’s One Day at a Time Attitude Leads to a Memorable TopCats Decade

Sarah Mitchell

sarahkcdSarah Mitchell is a former New England Patriots Cheerleader and former Knicks City Dancer.  Now she is one of the dancers in Christina Aquilera’s movie Burlesque. Sarah performed with Christina on the AMA’s the other night and just performed on Dancing With the Stars earlier this week.

Plenty of videos of Sarah’s performances on her fan page at Facebook, and you can also follow her on Twitter.

Sun scribe dances with Eskimos cheer team

By Andrew Hanon
Edmonton Sun
November 24, 2010
[watch the video]

Johnny Campbell, you created a monster.

A high-flying, gravity-defying, move-busting monster.

That’s the only way I can describe the Edmonton Eskimo Cheer Team, which will host the 2010 Grey Cup Cheer Team Extravaganza on Nov. 27.

Campbell is the man credited with inventing modern cheerleading at the University of Minnesota in 1898.

DUDES CHANTING

Back then it was an all-male affair known simply as “yell-leading” because, well, that’s all it really was: a bunch of dudes chanting through megaphones at the crowd during football games, trying to get everyone cheering for their team.

According to cheerleading lore, they began performing acrobatic shows during stoppages in play in order to keep fans from wandering outside the stadium to drink.

It wasn’t until the Second World War and a shortage of college-age men that female cheerleaders became commonplace.

My own impression of organized cheering goes back to the decadent, disco- era 1970s, when the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders debuted their skimpy outfits and gyrated like strippers on the sidelines. Like every other teenage boy in North America, I barely noticed the football game going on in the background.

That’s what I was thinking when I crashed a recent Eskimo cheer team practice at Perfect Storm Athletics in the West End.

No sweat, I thought as I strode in. Anything they can do, I can do better. After all, back in my university days, I was a real athlete — one of the guys the cheerleaders were cheering for. How hard can it be to wave a pom-pom, jump around and scream like a girl?

It was then that I noticed a woman flying eight metres into the air, spin around and land delicately into the arms of two male team mates.

Mouth agape, I thought, this is way higher than it looks from the 30th rows up at Commonwealth Stadium.

“It’s a little more work than it looks,” says Dianne Greenough, the team’s coach and owner of Perfect Storm. In fact, she chose the location specifically because of its 30-foot ceilings. “They get up there pretty high.”

The team is divided into two squads: the stunt squad and the dance squad. Most are university students but still devote 10 -15 hours a week to perfecting their moves.

Oh, yeah. I’m ready to show them how it’s done.

2010-esks_chelsea-cropMy first task was to take >Chelsea, a petite fourth-year economics student at the University of Alberta, and toss her around like a rag doll.

“Are you sure?” I asked her, feeling like a heart surgeon about to perform his first solo.

“Of course,” she said, not a hint of fear in her eyes.

Next thing I knew, Chelsea was standing on my hands, which I held a shoulder height.

On either side of us, several other pairs in the same position were rotating around us like a chorus line.

Next I had to toss Chelsea in the air and catch her by the waist while Dylan and Mitchel made sure I didn’t drop her.

When she landed safely I was soaked in sweat, some from the effort, most from terror.

“You did great,” Chelsea said kindly as I sobbed with relief.

Next up, the dance team.

2010-esks_cheryl-cropWhen Cheryl, who has her master’s degree in translation and plans a career in the diplomatic corps, informed me that she’s been dancing for more than two decades (which must mean she began in the womb), a tiny whimper escaped me.

I was placed in the middle of the front row and made to perform a series of contortions that included “washing my hair” (I know, I know. I got the irony) and finishing up “sexy” — which couldn’t have been further from truth. It looked more like I was having a seizure.

SORE BACK

When the ordeal was finally over, I had a sore back, a throbbing hamstring and a whole new appreciation for cheer teams.

Next time I go to a football game, I’ll ogle their artistry and athleticism.

The Grey Cup Cheer Team Extravaganza, which features seven-minute routines from all eight CFL teams, will be at Grant MacEwan University on Nov. 27.

Doors open at 4 p.m. and the show begins at 5. Tickets at the door are $15.