Twins turned Texans cheerleaders

Lanes 2By Abigail Ventress
The Houstonian
April 29, 2015

Identical twins and Sam Houston State University students, Jordan and Randi Lane, recently made the Houston Texans Cheerleading Team. Over 1,200 girls tried out for the team and only 34 were selected.

“As long as we can remember, we have always loved the HTC dance style,” Randi Lane said. “We see the ladies as role models, and it is truly a dream come true.”

The twins have danced for 13 years and have taught dance for five years. They began dancing competitively at the age of six and have always danced together. Jordan and Randi often performed duet dances at competitions.

“We have stuck with dance because it has been a lifelong passion of ours,” Jordan Lane said. “It is a hobby that we will never stop loving.”

To prepare for tryouts, the twins did gym workouts at least three times a week and focused on eating healthier. They also ordered identical uniforms online and hand-decorated them with rhinestones.

“Coming from a huge dance background, we felt very confident throughout the rounds,” Jordan Lane said. “But since over 1,200 girls were auditioning, we still had that bit of uncertainty and nervousness in the back of our minds.”

The day of tryouts, the twins arrived at the Houston Methodist Training Center for registration. The staff intentionally assigned the twins consecutive tryout numbers in order for them to be able to be side by side throughout the entire process.

“We were very nervous and excited the morning of tryouts,” Randi Lane said. “We definitely saw [being twins] as an advantage and felt very privileged to have each other as support. Our dancing is so identical that we felt it would make us stand out.”

Tryouts began with stretching and a group dance party. Following the dance party, candidates began round one, which consisted of performing the dance in groups of five for the judges. There were three rounds during the tryout process, and as the rounds progressed, the dance combinations became more challenging.

“The fact that we only had about 15 minutes to learn a dance and 10 minutes to go over it was quite challenging,” Jordan Lane said. “It was very sad to see the ladies that got cut have to pack their belongings and leave the tryouts.”

After each round, the groups would meet in front of a projector screen to see the tryout numbers of the girls that would be continuing to the next round. At the end of the night, 50 finalists were selected to attend training camp.

“It is so nice to always have a supporter and shoulder to lean on,” Randi Lane said. “If one of us does not pick up choreography as quickly, the other is quick to help. The best part of tryouts was seeing our numbers up on the finalist board. It gave us such a rush, and we could not wait to call our family and tell them the good news.”

The 50 finalists moved onto training camp, where 34 girls were chosen to be members of the Houston Texans Cheerleading Team. Both of the twins’ numbers appeared on the projector to let them know they were selected as part of the team. The announcement of the new team was streamed live on the Internet. The first people Jordan and Randi shared the news with were their parents.

“We were extremely excited, grateful, and could not contain our happiness,” Jordan Lane said. “Tryouts lasted from about 3:30 p.m. to 11:30p.m. We booked a room at a hotel because we live so far away, and we did not know how long tryouts would take.”
The twins have already begun their practices as Houston Texans Cheerleaders. They work out with a trainer twice a week and practice dances three days a week.

“The practices are very strenuous, but a lot of fun,” Randi Lane said. “We share a vehicle and take turns driving to and from practices.”

Being a Texans cheerleader comes with benefits such as a pay check, free tanning and hair, according to the twins.

Lanes“We love to perform in front of a crowd,” Randi Lane said. “It is an adrenaline rush and makes us feel very confident. We are going to see how this year goes and enjoy every minute of it.”

The twins celebrated their 19th birthday earlier this month. They are both fashion merchandising majors.

“Since we are both fashion merchandising majors, we hope to one day work together in the fashion industry,” Jordan Lane said. “We keep a healthy balance between our education and our work as cheerleaders. We take time on the weekends to do extra homework and stay up to date on assignments.”

The sisters have never had to compete against each other. Because they are identical, they are often confused as the opposite twin. One way to distinguish between the two is Jordan being a bit taller than Randi.

“People are constantly comparing us, but it has no effect on us because we love each other no matter what,” Jordan Lane said. “We get confused everyday of our lives. Because we are identical, we don’t blame people for getting confused.”

The twins said they are excited for their first year as Texans cheerleaders. They will be balancing their cheerleading career as well as being students of SHSU.

“Ever since we can remember, we have always been a great team together whether it be teaching dance, playing sports or performing,” Randi Lane said. “Therefore, this is second nature to us. It is so unbelievably exciting to have your best friend with you every step of the way and to always receive constant support from each other. We are so blessed to be able to experience this opportunity together and look forward to enjoying every minute of it.”

Whatever Happened To: Cowboys cheerleader Ashley Ferrel

2014 DCC_Ashley Ferrel2Virginia Olson
The Argus Leader
April 30, 2015

After three seasons as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, Ashley Ferrel says she is “hanging up her boots.”

Ferrel, a 2004 Washington High School graduate, has been cheering professionally since 2012. But with a master’s degree in counseling and a marriage of five years, Ferrel is stepping away to pursue a career and start a family.

Ferrel was a High Stepper at Washington before she went on to dance at the University of Nebraska for the Scarlets. It was there that she couldn’t let go of the idea to become a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader — to wear the ionic outfit and dance on the sidelines on the biggest stage around, AT&T Stadium.

“I grew up as a dancer,” she said. “I had been involved in dance, jazz and ballet since I was 6. Ballet was my first love. Becoming a dancer was something I always wanted to do.”

Inspired by her mother, Angela Nieman, who owns and directs Champion Legacy Dance in Sioux Falls, Ferrel says she learned the value of hard work.

“My mom taught me by example,” said Ferrel. “She showed me that it takes perseverance to get what you want.”

Ferrel moved to Austin, Texas, in 2010 and received her M.A. in counseling in 2012. That year, she tried out for the cheerleading team, competing against 600 others for one of 39 spots.

Professional cheerleading is a year-round commitment. Ferrel cheered at 10 Dallas football games each season and attended practices three to five nights a week from 7 to 10 p.m., along with making many special appearances.

“Each game day was a workout because you move for three hours straight. The biggest challenge is to keep your energy level on high,” Ferrel said. “It’s so important because the Dallas Cowboy fans are the best.”

But Ferrel admits criticism sometimes seems to follow professional cheerleaders.

“Sometimes it is tough feedback that you don’t want to hear,” she said. “You just have to trust in your heart.”

Ferrel says her career as a professional cheerleader has had highlights, including her work with children and at veterans hospitals in Dallas. Then there were the Thanksgiving Day halftime shows with Kenny Chesney, Selena Gomez and Pitbull, as well as traveling to Mexico to be part of the Dallas Cowboys annual swimsuit calendar.

She admits she is a true Dallas Cowboys fan and has met owner Jerry Jones, calling him “polite and quite sweet.”

Ferrel continues to inspire young girls in Sioux Falls.

“What Ashley has achieved after moving from South Dakota to pursue a personal dream shows determination,” said Carla Thomsen, whose children danced with Ferrel at Washington High. “She serves as a good mentor to other young South Dakota dancers and cheerleaders. Watching what she has accomplished shows that hard work and perseverance will pay off.” Thomsen believes that although Ferrel was a professional cheerleader, she still made it a point achieve her personal career goals.

Ferrel says her husband, Chris, has been supportive of her cheerleading. But, she says, “I am ready to be home with him and enjoy the freedom to go on a vacation when we want.”

She returns to Sioux Falls frequently to be with family and maintains connections with Champion Legacy Dance, meeting up for competitions in various parts of the country.

“I still work with my mom’s studio, traveling back to Sioux Falls to set choreography for competition teams as well as travel with them to national competitions. Just recently I met them in Orlando, Fla., for Dance Worlds.”

Ferrel currently works as an academic adviser at Southern Methodist University and is a licensed professional counselor-intern at New Leaf Clinic in North Dallas. She and her husband plan to remain in Texas. And, of course, she will continue to dance.

For Ferrel, life is all about being true to yourself, finding something that you love and following your dreams.

“To be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader was a milestone for me. And it was lots of fun,” said Ferrel. “But there are more of those out there to achieve.”

2015 VooDoo Dolls

The New Orleans VooDoo Dolls dance team is here! Click here to check out their poster and individual headshots on AFLVooDoo.com!

VooDoo Dolls 2015

2015 LA KISS Girls

The LA KISS website has been updated with new cameo shots of this year’s dance team. Stay tuned, bios should be coming soon.

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Sioux Falls Sisters Join Vikings Cheerleaders

By Jill Callison
The Argus Leader

Karmen and Kirsten Nyberg, twin sisters and graduates of Lincoln High School and Augustana College, have been named to the Minnesota Vikings cheerleading team.

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The Sioux Falls women in the past were cheerleaders for the Sioux Falls Storm Lightning, the local indoor football team.

The Nybergs, 23, are the daughters of Kevin and Linda Nyberg of Sioux Falls. They graduated from Augustana last spring.

“This is a life long dream come true,” Karmen Nyberg posted on her Facebook page.

Any interviews must wait until after a cheerleading team meeting Wednesday night. This year is their first with the team, and they join 33 others.

Become a Washington Kastles Cheerleader

Be a Washington Kastles Cheerleader and be a part of the most exciting World Team Tennis Organization! With an intimate stadium, music between points, cheerleaders, and mascots tall and round, the Washington Kastles offer a high-energy experience unlike any tennis tournament in the world. Washington Kastles Cheerleaders perform at 7 home games for loyal fans and cheer for our famous team members such as Serena and Venus Williams and Martina Hingis. We offer all-encompassing training and preparation to help young women be successful in the audition process. By attending Throwback Cheer Fab Fitness classes you will learn what it takes to become a Washington Kastles Cheerleader.

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Application Process
You must be in attendance at the auditions on Wednesday, June 22nd at 7:30pm. There is a $20.00 registration fee to participate in auditions. If you attend any of the Throwback Cheer fab fitness classes you do not have to pay the registration fee. All applicants must fill out a registration form and waiver on the day of auditions.

Requirements

• Applicants must be at least 18 years old, on or before June 22nd, 2015.
• Washington Kastles Cheerleaders must have their own transportation.
• The 2015 Washington Kastles Cheerleaders will be required to be available for (6) six of the seven games throughout the Kastles Season and one promotional event, see the schedule below:
 Mandatory Practice TBA
 Tuesday, July 14th @ 6:00pm
 Thursday, July 16th @ 6:00pm
 Saturday, July 18th @ 4:00pm
 Tuesday, July 21st @ 6:00pm
 Sunday, July 26th @ 4:00pm
 Monday, July 27th @ 6:00pm
 Wednesday, July 29th @ 6:00pm

Audition Prep-Classes; Throwback Cheer Fab Fitness:
Throwback Cheer Fab Fitness classes are designed to give you the atmosphere of a real practice. Opening with deep stretching, blast cardio and weight training for long & lean muscles…followed by amazing routines choreographed by The Kastles Cheerleader Director, Chelsea Sparaco, and alumni NFL and NBA cheerleaders! All routines are taught count by count and then performed full out.
Dates: May 27th, June 3rd, June 8th, June 15th
Times: 7:30pm-9:00pm Location: May 27th & June 3rd at Skyline Sport and Health: 5115 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church VA
Location: June 8th & June 15th at BalletNova: 3443 Carlin Springs Rd, Falls Church, Virginia 22041

Auditions: (Closed to public)
Date: Wednesday, June 22nd (one audition routine will also be taught at the June 15th Throwback cheer class)
Time: 7:30pm
Place: BalletNova: 3443 Carlin Springs Rd, Falls Church, Virginia 22041
Attire: A crop top/sports bra (stomach must show) and dance shorts/briefs or short biker shorts. Flesh-colored pantyhose, dance tights or bare legged. Dance Sneaker, or Jazz shoes.
Appearance: Your hairstyle should be down and make-up should have colors that compliment you!
Washington Kastles Cheerleaders will be compensated for each game they cheer.
Contact KastlesCheer@gmail.com with any additional questions.
Visit www.facebook.com/WashingtonKastlesCheerleaders for more information.

Photo of the Day – April 30

A Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleader

Philadelphia Eagles announce 2015 cheerleading squad

2015 PEC FinalsBy Tim Hawk
South Jersey Times
April 28, 2015

PHILADELPHIA — Sixty finalists stood backstage at the Kimmel Center, inside the Perelman Theater, many holding hands with their eyes closed while others appeared to say a prayer, as the 38 names of the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleading squad were announced.

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[[More photos at PhiladelphiaEagles.com]]

The final audition show, which lasted more than two hours in front of a loud and vocal sold-out crowd, featured competitions in physical fitness, beauty and dance, and lastly an on-stage interview.

“Best crop of girls since I have been here,” said choreographer Suzy Zucker, as the women prepared for the physical fitness portion of the show. Zucker has been the choreographer for the Eagles cheerleading squad for the past 10 years.

In a warm and crowded dressing room, Amanda Grace practiced her dance moves with other hopefuls minutes before the start of the audition. “I get more nervous every year,” said the 4-year veteran cheerleader.

The physical fitness and dance portion of the event moved quickly as the women prepared for the last category, the on-stage interview, which is considered to be the most nerve wracking.

Veteran cheerleader Pilar Martin paced in the hallway, preparing herself for the interview, as a group of women walked swiftly past her to change after dancing on stage.

As the Q&A session came to an end, the newest Eagles acquisitions — Seyi Ajirotutu and Ryan Mathews — were introduced while the judges made their final decision.

One by one, the cheerleaders walked on stage as their names were called, waving to the crowd and breathing a sigh of relief.

Tim Hawk may be reached at thawk@southjerseymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @photogthawk. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

She does it again: 41-year-old mom makes Saintsations

FOX10 News | WALA

By Hillary Stepney
Fox10tv.com
April 28, 2015

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) – Kriste Lewis, 41, has again made the Saintsations cheerleader roster.

Lewis auditioned for the team last year as a fitness goal, and a 40th birthday gift to herself. She immediately garnered national recognition for her accomplishment.

“It was a whirlwind. It went by so fast, and it was such an amazing experience,” said Lewis of her first season with the team. “It brought so much joy to my life, I felt like I just had to do it again.”

Her story became even more inspirational because of her illness. She was diagnosed 15 years ago with polycystic kidney disease; a disease that will eventually require dialysis, a kidney transplant, and currently has no cure.

“I honestly had no idea that anyone would be interested in my story, but just being able to share it with people, I think has really been a blessing for me,” Lewis said. “I was very guilty of not letting people know about my health issues, and this has kind of been able to give me a platform to discuss that and to be a voice for others.”

For the moment, she remains positive and enjoys her many trips with the team and her fellow cheerleaders. There are 36 members on the squad, nine of those members being from the Hattiesburg area.

Although the girl time, pom-poms, and uniforms are fun, Lewis is also a wife and mother of two boys, 12 and 15 years old. She balances her time between the Superdome, and her home with grace.

“The difference between Sunday and Monday is that on Sunday, I’m in the Superdome, there are 80,000 fans, we’re cheering, dancing, signing autographs, taking pictures, and on Monday morning, I’m right back into mom mode,” Lewis said with a laugh. “I’m ironing school uniforms, making school lunches. It’s such a contrast and I love that.”

The Saintsations only allow each member a maximum of four years on the team. Tentatively, Lewis plans to audition next year as well.

“I would love to do it as many times as I can,” said Lewis. “A lot of that will depend on my family situation, right now with our family dynamics it works really well. My boys are old enough to understand and really enjoy what we’re doing. As long as it works with my family, and my health is good, I would love to continue to do it for four years.”

Congratulations 2015-16 Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders!

Final auditions for the Vikings Cheerleaders took place last night, and 35 ladies (22 veterans and 13 rookies) were selected to the team. Congrats to all!

Click here to see the headshots
Click here for photos from finals

Interesting factoid: Among those selected were Karmen and Kirsten, former Sioux Falls Storm Dancers, and now the 6th pair of twins to join the ranks of NFL Cheerleaders this season.

MVC 2015

2014-15 LA Kings Ice Crew Profile – Lindsay

Description: Kings Vision was on hand for the 14-15 Ice Crew calendar photo shoot! Check out this profile featuring Ms. November 2014, Lindsay!

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Charlotte KnightinGals

Thanks to Jennifer Wainwright Director of Cheerleading for the Charlotte Knights (a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) for sending along some photos of her squad, the Charlotte KnigtinGals.

The KnightinGals are in their third year and are heading into their 4th game of this season this weekend.

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[Charlotte KnightinGals]

You can find more about the KnightinGals on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

2015-16 Denver Broncos Cheerleaders Rookies

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Via the Broncos Cheerleaders Instragram: Please welcome Nikki, Allie, Lizzie, Jozie, and Sara!

Photo of the Day – April 29

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Backstage Monday night at the Eagles Cheerleaders Finals.

Michelle, Cheryl and Jessica are all 6-year veterans looking for their 7th lucky season.

And they all made it!

Put a Dancer and a Prof Together and You Just Might Come up With a Startup

By Cathy Proctor
Denver Business Journal

Many professional dancers have long needed slim, flexible, strong protective pads to protect their knees from repeated impacts on the dance floor.

Just ask a Denver Nuggets dancer.

That need has led to an innovation that, according to its inventors, could dramatically change all kinds of protective equipment, from steel-toed boots at the construction site to football helmets on the field.

Subscribe to Upstart Today for a daily jolt of startup news and powerful ideas.

“It’s a hybrid material system, HMS, which can absorb four times more energy from impacts than any other competing product in the world,” said Terry Lowe, a research professor at Colorado School of Mines’ George S. Ansell Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering.

The patented knee pad is made of conventional foam as well as an unusual metal mesh — think steel bridge trusses crossed with a spider’s web — and a fluid that thickens upon impact, Lowe said.

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And yet the pad is as soft as your cheek, flexible and thin — less than 2 millimeters in thickness, said Kady Zinke, a former professional dancer for the Nuggets who turned to Golden’s School of Mines for help inventing a pad to protect knees. She’s teamed with Lowe on the new product.

“There’s nothing else that touches it [in the protective padding world],” Lowe said.

The state last summer gave the project a $30,000 grant, via its Advanced Industries Accelerator Program, to test the concept behind the pad. Lowe says the project is close to getting another round of state funding to test whether the pad can be manufactured at one of eight potential sites in Colorado.

The two figure they’ll need a few million dollars to finish test-manufacturing runs and learn whether the pad can be manufactured profitably, but they’re not worried about coming up with that kind of money.

Lowe said he’s received calls from many potential investors, including parents whose children have been badly hurt playing sports asking if they can invest in the new pad immediately — in hopes that other children might avoid similar injuries.

The project started because Zinke and other dancers were tired of bruised, swollen knees — a routine part of a professional dancer’s life — that result from repeatedly landing on their knees on hard dance floors during practices and performances.

And the knee pads sold in sports stores or big-box stores are no help at all, Zinke said: They’re too big, too bulky, aren’t very good at absorbing the impact, and “you could barely dance in them, much less look cute.”

Zinke has her own line of dance and active wear via her company, Kadyluxe LLC, which has caught the attention of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ cheerleading squad. They asked Zinke to design new costumes for the 2014-15 football season. She also outfitted the University of Colorado Buffaloes’ dance team for the 2013-14 season.

But while the clothing line was taking off, Zinke still wanted to pursue her original vision of a protective knee pad.

So Zinke cold-called the School of Mines, and left a message for a member of Lowe’s engineering department. Her message was passed around, ultimately landing on Lowe’s desk. And he passed it off to a colleague in California.

“My first response was this is ridiculous, impossible, because they needed a designer and they wanted to be in production in a month or so,” Lowe said.

But Zinke didn’t give up.

“I was persistent and kept calling, then one day, I got a phone call back,” Zinke said.

Lowe said he’d had that “ah-hah” moment.

“I woke up one morning and said, ‘Wait, I know a way to do this.’ That was the moment of invention, figuring out that this concept would work,” Lowe said.

He’d figured out a basic problem with pads based on foams, that when they’re hit in one area the impact causes them to bulge in another area — like pushing on a balloon with a finger.

Lowe said he realized that adding a network of metal strands to the foam would allow the pad to absorb more energy and stiffen into a protective pad.

“Part of the reason they can be thin is that it doesn’t matter where you hit it, the entire pad works to absorb the energy,” he said.

“And it’s soft, as soft as your cheek if you push on it slowly. But it you push fast it stiffens,” Lowe said.

And this new pad isn’t limited to protecting dancer’s knees.

It can be used in a football helmet, making it smaller and lighter. Something as light and small as the old leather football helmets used decades ago could be as strong as modern-day helmets, Lowe said.

“We think it’s possible to create something close to your head — 2 millimeters thick — that stiffens up like the shell of the helmet, maybe even stiffer,” he said.

Then there’s steel-toed boots, and other protective padding that workers need. And sheets of cloth that can protect priceless artwork from damage during transport.

Even ski jackets could incorporate the new pad, something Lowe — who said he was nursing his sixth cracked rib from a skiing injury — wishes was already on the market.

“The manufacturing is everything,” Lowe said.

“The concept works. The question is can you manufacture it cost-effectively and can you do it cost-effectively in Colorado? We’re not going to take this offshore. We don’t want to lose control of this,” he said.