Photo of the Day – January 30

Eagles

A Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader

Rising to the occasion: Pastry chef LisaMarie cheers the Patriots to the Super Bowl

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Need some hints for hosting a super-terrific Super Bowl bash? Let us assist you, by asking LisaMarie, a perfect combination of football/culinary expertise, as both a pastry chef and New England Patriots Cheerleader. If she were hosting a Super Bowl party, what would she whip up for guests to be the perfect Super Bowl game cuisine? “Miniature dishes are key!” LisaMarie responds. “Who doesn’t like to be able to pick up a little bite of something and not need a plate? Deviled eggs are a huge hit. You can make them spicy, sweet or spike them with an outrageous ingredient like smoked salmon!”

But this Super Bowl, LisaMarie will not be hosting a party, as she will be at the biggest party of all, cheering and dancing at the game itself! What is it like to be part of a Super Bowl team? LisaMarie answers, “Surreal. Pinch me! This season has been absolutely incredible. I feel very lucky to be able to share this special game with my teammates and cheer on my favorite team at the Super Bowl.”

LisaMarie shared with UltimateCheerleaders some surprising challenges of being a pastry chef, why her sister is on her Mount Rushmore of favorite musicians, and how her ultimate culinary goal combines food and football.

LisaMarie’s life’s journey took her from New York to New Jersey to New England. “My mother is originally from Long Island, New York, and my father is from Brooklyn, New York,” LisaMarie explains. “They met at SUNY Buffalo in college and after finishing their studies they were married and started a family together. My older sister, Chevonne, and I were born in New York City and were raised in Bergen County, New Jersey.”

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Having an older sister added to LisaMarie’s own drive to excellence. “Growing up, Chevonne and I were very competitive,” LisaMarie says. “Not only did she excel in the classroom but she was an extremely talented singer, performer, and competitive dancer. Naturally I looked up to her and wanted to be just like my older sister.”

Today, LisaMarie is involved with so many things, from a busy vocation to several avocations, including scuba. Was she always a high energy youngster? “Since I was such a high-energy child, I was involved in an immense amount of activities,” reports LisaMarie. “I started playing the classical violin at age four, as well as the piano. I went to tennis lessons, gymnastics, soccer, basketball, softball, and dance classes. Eventually as I became older, it was evident that I needed to make choices on what I wanted to focus my time on. I was a great soccer player but I chose to focus on competitive dancing since my sister was so into it. It was definitely the right choice!”

Dance has been part of LisaMarie’s life for about as long as she can remember. “I started dancing at age two-and-a-half,” shares LisaMarie. “Chevonne was four years older than me, and already performing in dance recitals. I wanted so badly to be dancing in them as well! Besides taking classes in ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop, I was always creating routines with my sister and singing made up songs throughout the house. It was always one giant performance.”

And leading up to the Patriots, LisaMarie was part of numerous dance teams. “I competed with the traveling competition team at ‘In the Spotlight Dance Studio’ in Waldwick, New Jersey, from age eight until high school,” LisaMarie says. I went to Muhlenberg College to study Theater and I tried out for their performance team ‘Mint*’. I danced on the squad for all four years of college as well as served as captain for the final two. I couldn’t get enough of dancing while I was at college so I also auditioned for the Philadelphia Kixx and danced with them before their season sadly ended in 2010. My senior year at Muhlenberg I danced with the Lehigh Valley Steel Hawks ‘Precious Metals’ in its first season as an organization.”

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Plays played a big part of her youth, and LisaMarie studied Theatre at Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Muhlenberg College. “I have been performing in theatre productions since the third grade,” LisaMarie says. “My first role was playing Grace Farrell in Annie. My favorite role had to be when I played ‘Lola’ in Damn Yankees as a junior in high school. I was nominated for ‘Best Vocal Performance’ in the State of New Jersey.”

Yet with a life of performance, the call of the kitchen was always there for LisaMarie. “I have always been interested in cooking and baking!” explains LisaMarie. “Whenever I was home from dancing, singing or acting, I was making a complete mess in the kitchen. My first cookbook was Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. I attempted to create desserts and dishes like Sandra created in her book, however, they never really came out the same. My absolute favorite thing to do over the weekend was to open up a page in the book and just try to re-create one of the recipes from it. I had always wanted to go to culinary school yet I had spent so much time focusing on singing, dancing and acting that my skills in the kitchen weren’t so great. I figured if it was meant to be it would work out eventually.”

And it did! LisaMarie attends Johnson & Wales University for a degree in Culinary Arts/Chef Training. What are some of the unexpected challenges for a pastry chef in training? “Some people may not realize just how hard it is to keep your chef whites, WHITE,” explains LisaMarie. “As a chef, you are required to keep your uniform clean, crisp and extremely white yet you are performing tasks that are very messy and stain easily! Not only do you need to be able to cook or bake delicious and beautifully presented items, you must be polished and presentable yourself.”

“Also, now that I am a Chef, it is challenging to go out to eat,” LisaMarie continues. “I find myself picking out short cuts that places may have taken when creating something or mumbling over high prices that I could make myself from scratch less expensively.”

Continue reading Rising to the occasion: Pastry chef LisaMarie cheers the Patriots to the Super Bowl

Asia’s World City Selects the Denver Broncos NFL Cheerleaders to Represent the U.S. in the 20th Annual Cathay Pacific Lunar New Year Celebrations

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Award-winning performance groups from around the globe will gather in Hong Kong to participate in this year’s Chinese New Year festivities. Today, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) announced its selection of the National Football League’s (NFL) Denver Broncos Cheerleaders to represent the U.S. in the 20th annual Cathay Pacific Lunar New Year celebrations. This marks the first visit to China for the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders. As part of the event, the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders will unveil a brand-new performance exclusive to the world-renowned Chinese New Year Parade.

“The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders are thrilled to be selected by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to perform in the 20th annual Cathay Pacific Lunar New Year celebrations,” Director of Cheerleaders Shawna Peters said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our young squad to observe and learn about Chinese culture during one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in the world. We are also excited for the chance to share some American customs with the residents of Hong Kong.”

On February 19, Asia’s World City will transform into the world’s largest and internationally televised Chinese New Year celebration. Headlined by the award-winning Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Parade in Kowloon, and Chinese New Year Fireworks Display on the iconic Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong is set to welcome the “Year of the Goat” – the eighth sign in the Chinese Zodiac symbolizing harmonious co-existence for 2015.

“Each year we’ve taken our annual Lunar New Year celebrations to new heights by delivering authentic, thrilling and unforgettable events unique to Hong Kong,” said Bill Flora, U.S. Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board. “This year is no different as we prepare to welcome thousands of international visitors to celebrate the sophistication and rich traditions that only Asia’s World City can offer. We can think of no better way to do this than with the NFL’s Denver Broncos Cheerleaders.”

The award-winning Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Parade kicks off Hong Kong’s festivities on the first day of Chinese New Year (February 19), bringing an extravagant procession of embellished floats and international performers to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. Celebrating its 20th year with the theme “World Party! Sweet 20!” the Night Parade is set to feature an extensive roster of critically-acclaimed performances by world-renowned talent, including the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders.

Following the Broncos Cheerleaders Hong Kong debut, on February 19, the celebration rolls on as Hong Kong’s annual Chinese New Year Fireworks display engulfs the breathtaking skyline of Victoria Harbour.

Will This Cheerleader Be The Smartest Person At The Super Bowl?

By Sam Wood
Philly.com

kellyWhen the New England Patriots face the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday, the smartest person on the gridiron may be a cheerleader.

Kelly Bennion, 26, has danced for the Pats for the past two seasons. At the same time, she’s been pursuing a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience and teaching psychology and neuroscience to undergrads. Her impressive resume includes bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish from Middlebury College and a master’s in education from Harvard.

So it figures the vivacious Arizona native is a member of the Science Cheerleaders, the Philadelphia-based organization that encourages girls to pursue careers in science and engineering. Science Cheerleader, which counts about 250 current and former cheerleaders as members, was founded in 2009 by former 76ers cheerleader Darlene Cavalier.

As part of her Science Cheerleader duties, Bennion collected bacteria last year from Gillette Stadium (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, if you must know) to be blasted into orbit as part of a “microbiome Olympics” aboard the International Space Station. (The final results are still out.)

Bennion won’t be the only one on the sidelines this Sunday to mix beauty, brains, and boosterism. Ten others on the Pats’ squad — and at least three of the Seahawks’ Sea-Gals — are also pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Sunday’s matchup in Phoenix will be Bennion’s first Super Bowl.

With the help of two Philadelphia-area 9-year-old girls, Betsy and Nora, we asked Bennion a few questions about her life in the labs and on the football field.

You’re a scientist, so why would you want to be a cheerleader?

It’s what I do to release stress. I also love seeing the other girls on the team because they’re my best friends. It’s also great because we do workouts at every practice. So instead of going to the gym, I go to the stadium.

How did you become a cheerleader for the Patriots?

I’ve wanted to dance since I was 7. I started with jazz and tap. I later studied at the Arizona Ballet School; that’s what I attribute all my technical skill to. I had cheered in high school, but prior to 2011, I hadn’t done that much.

I went to Boston for graduate school and while I was working on my master’s, I danced for the Harvard Crimson Dance Team and got to travel to Disney World.

The week I turned in my master’s thesis, I saw there were tryouts for the Patriots [cheerleading squad]. So I rewarded myself by going to the audition. I didn’t think about how my life would change! I wanted to dance for the day. I ended up making the team.

How did you get involved with Science Cheerleaders?

Darlene contacted my coach shortly after I became a cheerleader to see which girls were pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. When she asked me to join, I said “Absolutely, yes!”

Besides getting kids interested in science, what do Science Cheerleaders do?

For cheerleaders, it works to combat the negative stereotype that they’re only pretty faces. It shows that cheerleaders are very hard-working and are pursuing advanced educations in engineering, math, biology and other great things.

It also shows that scientists are not always the stereotypically nerdy people who can’t manage to hold a normal conversation. Scientists are people too, and they can have hobbies. It works nicely from both sides.

Does cheering pay?

We get a stipend.

Does cheering ever get in the way of your doing science?

I think you can do both. With cheering, at some point, I’ll just be too old. It will be too physically demanding. There’s a four-year max for being a Patriots cheerleader. But I’ll always be able to be a scientist.

Do other Patriots cheerleaders lead similar lives?

We all have full-time or part-time jobs or are students. That’s a requirement to get selected for the squad. Everyone, of course, is very committed to a being a Pats cheerleader and has great dance ability and enjoys making community appearances. If there’s a girl who wants to join who does nothing besides cheering, that’s a red flag. Our coach wants someone who is a well-rounded person. She does a good job of picking girls who not only perform well on the field, but are good public speakers and get along with everyone.

How did you become interested in studying the brain?

I’ve been interested memory a long time. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old. I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to teach.

I took some psychology in my freshman year. In my sophomore year I started working in a lab studying human memory. I found human memory fascinating, especially since I’ve always been interested in education.

And what is your Ph.D. research about?

I’m focusing on the effects of sleep on emotion and stress. Considering we spend approximately a third of our lives sleeping, I think it’s important to understand it! Sleep selectively strengthens memory, not that it boosts all memories equally. But it strengthens memories of negative experiences. If you’re held up at gunpoint, sleep might strengthen the memory for the specific characteristics of the gun, while it might leave out the other details such as the person holding gun, or the car that person drove up in or what they were wearing.

Much of what we experience is not just neutral information, but emotional. I happen to be very lucky. I got my own grant from the Department of Defense because my dissertation research has implications on PTSD, how sleep affects those negative experiences.

I’m also looking at how you can use sleep as a tool to enhance memory, how naps can be used as a tool to boost information. Data shows that you can assign some importance to whatever you’re studying and a nap will boost memory for that salient information relative to the same amount of time spent awake.

You’re so busy. How much sleep do you get?

I usually sleep around seven hours, but I’m fine with four, which is good because it’s hard to get sleep if you’re doing research on sleep! On the overnights I’m working, I have to make sure the electrodes do not fall off the subject’s scalp.

How do people react when they find out you’re also a serious scientist?

I get a few surprised comments when they learn what I do. At appearances, someone will ask, “Do you do anything besides this?” When I tell them I’m getting a Ph.D. in neuroscience, they’ll go like, “Wow!” I certainly get a variety of reactions, from some being very shocked to others feeling guilty that they asked at all.

What are you most excited about for the Super Bowl?

I’m looking forward to everything about it. All the events leading up are absolutely incredible. We’re doing a science pep rally, on Friday the 30th. I can’t imagine how exciting the game will be. The AFC championship game was beyond amazing. As the players ran out to take the field, you could feel the enormous energy of all the fans.

And I’m actually from Arizona, so it makes it incredibly meaningful. We’re staying 30 minutes from my family’s house and the University of Phoenix stadium is about an hour from there. Being at my home stadium is very special.

What advice do you have for young girls?

It’s very important you find something you’re passionate about. That can be sometimes difficult, and you don’t need to find it right away. Sometimes you’ll find it in college and sometimes after. Don’t let anything stand in your way. A lot of times people have told me, “There’s no way you can do that, be a scientist and a cheerleader!” I don’t listen to them. I feel if you’re passionate, it will make you happy. Get enough sleep, and put your mind to doing whatever you want to do and that will lead to success.

[Kelly at Patriots.com]

[The Science Cheerleaders]

Inglewood Lady Hawks Dance Auditions – New Date!

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Sideline Prep – Pro Cheerleader Audition & Prep Workshop

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Last weekend dancers from all over Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia participated in Sideline Prep’s Pro Cheerleader Audition & Prep Workshop where they had a chance to learn from the Pros.

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On Saturday participants learned dance routines, technique and tips and got the inside scoop inside scoop from coaches about the area pro dance teams.

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And then on Sunday, dancers had a chance to show off what they learned the previous day, plus they received feedback on their strengths and opportunities for improvement, and had a chance to ask last minute questions and walk away with confidence for upcoming auditions.

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In addition to aspiring cheerleaders and dancers, members from several local squads also participated in the event.

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The Baltimore Blast Cheerleaders

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The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders

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The Bay Area Shuckers Dance Team

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The Richmond Lady Raiders

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The Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ambassadors

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The Baltimore Lady Hawks & The Bomb Squad Dance Team

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And if you missed the workshop don’t worry, Sideline Prep can still help you work towards your cheering and dance goals.

[Sideline Prep Workshop Gallery]

[SideLinePrep.com]

Fashion forward Kate reigns on the sidelines for the Titans Cheerleaders

Tennessee Titans Cheerleader Kate

Tennessee Titans Cheerleader Kate

When asked who her personal fashion icons were, Fashion Merchandising graduate Kate chose another Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. “One of my fashion icons would have to be Kate Middleton,” Titans Cheerleader Kate responded. “She is always very polished and put together. She mixes high and low fashion, and is not afraid to reuse outfits that she has previously worn. Another one of my fashion icons is Blake Lively. Whenever she hits the red carpet, she always looks so stunning! Her hair, makeup, jewelry, and dress always looks flawless!”

Third-year Tennessee Titans Cheerleader Kate shares a lot in common with Duchess Catherine. Both young women have parents that worked for airlines (TTC Kate’s dad is a pilot; the Duchess’s parents were both flight attendants), both have fashion expertise, they enjoy their roles in helping the community, and both brighten the spirits of their adoring throngs. But we have to give the dancing nod to TTC Kate, as royal watchers grade Prince Harry as the top palace dancer. And Titans’ Kate certainly rates tops for being the ultimate positive spirit, always donning a bright smile, which is more valuable than a royal title any day of the fortnight.

Kate kindly shared with UltimateCheerleaders her dance/cheer history, her fashion forward preview to the trends of 2015, and gave some examples of who is notably stylish among her always fashionable Titans Cheerleaders peers.

Kate’s Halloween costume last season

Her dad’s profession moved the family a bit north when Kate was young. “I was born in Paducah, Kentucky but raised in Sylvania, Ohio,” Kate recalls. “We moved up to Sylvania when I was four years old due to my dad being a pilot for Northwest Airlines, and he was based in Detroit, Michigan.”

And it seems both parents played a role in Kate’s journey to NFL Cheerleader. Kate’s mom would sprinkle a healthy dose of dance as part of their kitchen fun. “My mother and I cooking in the kitchen is a favorite childhood memory of mine,” Kate explains. “We used to make chocolate chip cookies for my brothers and their friends. We would turn the radio on, make the cookies, and have a dance party as well! Not much has changed though. When we are in the kitchen together, we still turn on the radio and dance away!”

Her dad’s role was by including football as part of her dance dreams. “I decided to try out for the Titans Cheerleaders because it was a dream of mine since I was a little girl to become a Titans Cheerleader,” Kate says. “I remember watching football with my dad and brothers, and when they would show the cheerleaders I would always think how I would love to do that. I love football and I love to dance so it’s the perfect combination!”

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Kate’s favorite childhood memorable times also included family memories of activity filled trips. “My family and I used to take ski trips out to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and I would have to say that is one of my favorite childhood memories,” Kate relates. “My cousins and I still talk about the ski trips and those memories hold a special place in my heart.”

And Kate’s dance was not confined to the kitchen. Kate’s cheer/dance journey started with dance, and then incorporated both cheer and theatre. “I started dancing when I was three,” Kate explains. “I took tap in Kentucky, and then when I moved to Sylvania I started ballet. I took ballet for five years, and then took Jazz for one year. I tried out for the middle school cheerleading team and made it! I was a cheerleader in seventh and eighth grade. I was on the Sylvania Northview Dance Team during my freshman and sophomore year, and was in musical theatre for three years as well.”

“There are many things I love about dance!” Kate exclaims. “I love performing for others, and putting a smile on their face. I love getting lost in the music, and just being able to express yourself. I love that when I dance I become a character, for example, the way I dance in a hip-hop dance is completely different then the way I dance for our Christmas dance.”

Kate's second season Halloween costume

Kate’s second season Halloween costume

After graduating from Western Kentucky University with her degree in Fashion Merchandising, Kate took a chance, and auditioned for Nashville’s Titans Cheerleaders. “My feelings the first time going through try-outs was to just enjoy the process and hopefully make it to finals,” Kate recollects. “I remember during the open auditions thinking how there were so many beautiful women, and just reminding myself to have fun and just give it my all.”

“I made it to finals that year, but did not make the team.” Kate, with her ever present positivity, continues, “I remember thinking to myself, that I had achieved my goal to make it to finals and I should be happy. My next year auditioning the goal was to make the team. The next year, I made the team!”

Given her family’s role in her NFL dreams, it should be no surprise that the biggest cheers when Kate achieved her goal came from her family. “When I found out I made the team, it was unbelievable!” Kate reflects. “My year of hard work had paid off. There were a lot of people that had helped me achieve my dream, and I could not thank them enough. My brother and mom were in the crowd the night I made the team. I do not think I have heard my brother yell so loud! The first time stepping out on to the field, it was the moment that I had waited for all my life, and to see my family in the stands is a moment I cherish.”

Kate's rookie season calendar release party, with Tandra

Kate’s rookie season calendar release party, with Tandra

From the beginning, Kate’s experience lived up to her dreams. “This TTC adventure has been such a blast and I would not trade this experience for anything!” Kate says. “One of the most memorable moments was the first time I stepped out onto the field. The roar of the crowd, the lights, and the energy of the night was such a rush. I will never forget that moment. Another memorable moment was when we served lunch at the Nashville Rescue Missions the day before Thanksgiving. It was such an honor to be able to serve lunch and to be able to give back to the community.”

Continue reading Fashion forward Kate reigns on the sidelines for the Titans Cheerleaders

Where is She Now? Devon Williams

Last weekend at Sideline Prep’s DMV Workshop I had a chance to catch up with former Wizard Girl Devon Williams.

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A three-year veteran of the Wizard Girls, Devon was a two-time captain, Wizard Girls Member of the Year in 2012, and the 2013 Wizard Girls MVP. She capped of her career by being the 1st Wizard Girl to have her uniform number retired.

Now Devon and her college friend and Syracuse University Dance Team teammate, Alanna Simpson, have started Fanciful Entertainment. Their company provides dancers for events and brands. They are growing quickly in the DC, MD, and VA area; and will be expanding to NYC very soon.

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And Devon could use your assistance. She’s been nominated for Radio One’s Top 30 Under 30 Award. So help her out and give her a vote!

[Fanciful Entertainment]

[Vote for Devon – Radio One: Top 30 Under 30]

2015 LA KISS Girls Auditions: Boot Camp (continued)

The other day I gave you the skinny what happened at boot camp. Now, as promised, here’s the photo gallery. Click here to check it out!

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ASI Panther Dance Team Auditions

Auditions will take place at the LA Fitness in Wyomissing, PA on February 7th OR 21st, 2015. Registration starts at 4:30pm. Auditions are 5pm-9pm. Please dress in appropriate dance/workout attire and be ready to dance.

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ASI Panthers are a professional indoor football team based out of Reading, PA. The Panthers home games are played at the 7,000 seat Santander Arena. The Panthers Dance Team will have attitude, professionalism and poise. We are looking for dancers with smiling faces, sophistication, an up-beat outlook and a caring community vision. Panthers Dance Team Coordinator, Ginelle Ophelia, along with additional Panthers staff, will be evaluating all dancers in attendance. Bring you’re A-Game and get ready to be a part of the most fierce dance team in the AIF.

Auditions are $25 in advance or $35 at the door (cash only). Dancers can pre-register by visiting www.allstarincpanthers.com. Auditioners must be 18 and older and out of high school. You must sign a medical waiver in order to audition.

Monroe’s Sea Gal, Jessica Irwin, Returns to Super Bowl

By Chris Hendrickson
The Monroe Monitor

jesz1Monroe’s favorite Sea Gal is headed off to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row, and she’s pretty excited about it.

To Jessica Irwin, a five-year veteran of the Sea Gals professional dance team, there was never any question about who would triumph in that crucial game on Jan. 18 against the Green Bay Packers. She knew in her heart that the Seahawks couldn’t lose.

“It was the best game ever,” Irwin said. “I’m just really excited to have the chance to be a Super Bowl cheerleader two years in a row… especially after that game, it’s still so surreal.”

Not only is Irwin looking forward to dancing in her second Super Bowl, but the 5-foot-2-inch, 25-year-old dancer was selected along with one of her teammates to travel to Arizona early, to participate in media day on Tuesday, Jan. 27. She will have the opportunity to represent the Sea Gals while mingling with the media and players from both the Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

Irwin’s success as a Sea Gal can be attributed to her spirited dedication, her strong sense of commitment to the team and her lifelong love of dance.

“Dance has always been my No. 1 passion,” Irwin said. “I love to dance – I couldn’t live without it.”

When the 2008 Monroe High School graduate decided to try out for the Monroe Bearcat cheerleading team in her senior year, it was on a bit of a lark. A self-proclaimed dork with an affinity for being “alternative,” people were more likely to catch her in a mosh pit than holding pom-poms. But once she made the team, she quickly realized that she loved everything about it. Her only regret was not having tried out sooner.

It was also around this time that one of her dance instructors decided to try out for the Sea Gals, and shared her experiences during the competition with her students.

“She was just telling us how fun it was and how you make so many friends,” Irwin said. “We were there throughout her whole process of getting ready for it.”

Irwin knew that becoming a professional Sea Gals dancer would allow her to continue her passion for dance, even after she graduated from high school, and so the decision to try out for the team was a relatively simple one.

She went into the preliminary competition in 2008 while still in high school, with absolutely no idea what to expect. Competing along with a couple hundred other girls, the competition involved performing a freestyle dance routine. Her performance was a success, and she advanced to the next level of competition: the semi-finals.

At that point, the competition kicked up a notch. The dancers were taught a routine and given only 24 hours to master it before having to perform it in front of the judges. For Irwin, it was a whole new style of dancing.

“I was so used to being a ballerina,” Irwin said. “This was straight, typical Sea Gals style… head-whips and turns and kicks. It was so fun and so different than anything else I’d ever done.”

Again, Irwin’s performance was a success, and she advanced into the finals. Then she participated in an interview, answered questions using a microphone, had her photograph taken, and learned another dance routine for the final portion of the audition.

After that last leg of competition was complete, she learned that she hadn’t made the squad. But instead of looking at it as a defeat, Jessica decided to use it as a learning experience. The audition gave her a clear idea of what she needed to strive for, and so without missing a beat, she focused on honing her dance skills even more.

“It teaches you so much to not make it,” Irwin said. “I was really young and so determined to come back the next year and make it.”

She competed again in 2009, but became unsure of herself in the midst of the competition, stymied by self-doubt. She again made it to the finals but didn’t make the team.

Still, she didn’t give up, and indeed, the third time was the charm. In 2010, Irwin became a Sea Gal and hasn’t looked back since.

The Sea Gals professional dance squad is made up of 32 dancers, who are divided up into four smaller squads based on height. They practice two to three times a week at the Seahawks training facility in Renton, for four to five hours at a time. This year will be Irwin’s second Super Bowl as a squad captain.

As squad captain, Jessica is responsible for making sure her squad knows which routine to start performing and when. This means that once a song starts to play, she has only seconds to communicate with her squad via hand-signals and code-words, so that they know which dance to start performing. She is also responsible for communicating with the other three squad captains to keep everyone in sync.

“It’s a big responsibility, but an honor to be chosen,” she said.

She has to keep her eyes on the clock, as well as on the field, and be ready at a moment’s notice to shift gears and communicate with her squad the instant there’s a change in the music.

To Irwin, there are many different things that she loves about being a Sea Gal, like cheering on her favorite football team. But at the top of that list are the 12s.

“I love the 12s – and I love the interaction that I have with them,” she said.

Another thing she loves about being a Sea Gal is the opportunity to travel the world. Irwin is part of a smaller team made up of 10 Sea Gals called Show Group, which performs at places like the Washington State Fair and the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma. In March, the Sea Gals Show Group will travel to Europe for three weeks where they will perform on different military bases.

“It will be one of the most rewarding experiences,” Irwin said, “to get to go visit with them and hopefully brighten their day.”

But for now, it’s all about the upcoming Super Bowl, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 1. Irwin is looking forward to seeing how Arizona hosts the Super Bowl in comparison to New York, and is eager for the friendly Arizona weather. She is looking forward to dancing her heart out while rooting for the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

[Jessica at Seahawks.com]

[Jessica AllPro3 All-Star]

This Patriots Cheerleader is Also a Culinary Student

By Gillian O’Callaghan
Boston Globe

lisa3LisaMarie Ianuzzi, a culinary arts student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, had to tell her instructors she was going to miss some classes this week because she’s going to the Super Bowl.

Ianuzzi doesn’t have a ticket to the game, but then, she doesn’t need one. She’s in her third season as a member of the Patriots Cheerleaders, and on Sunday she’ll be cheering at Super Bowl XLIX.

The daughter of a New Jersey restaurateur, the cheerleader moved to Rhode Island for the job but was always interested in cooking. So she enrolled at Johnson & Wales and last spring earned an associate’s degree in baking and pastry arts; the culinary arts degree will be her second.

Ianuzzi started dancing before she was 3 years old. Her other two passions — food and football — have also been part of her life since childhood. “Growing up my father and I always watched football and the Food Network,” she says. “That was our thing. We were on the couch together watching Emeril or the games on Sunday.” Ralph Ianuzzi owns Restaurant L, a bistro in Allendale, N.J., and though Ianuzzi worked as a hostess in the dining room through high school, she was constantly in the kitchen to see what was going on.

The 25-year-old grew up as a New York Giants fan, but she’s had a long-standing attachment to the Patriots as well. “The Giants, the Patriots, and the Dallas Cowboys — those were the teams my dad respected, and when those teams were playing you were quiet,” Ianuzzi says.

Being a fan and a dancer led her to the National Football League. After graduating from college in 2011, she looked around for cheering opportunities. On her first tryout in the spring of 2012, Ianuzzi earned a spot with the Patriots Cheerleaders. Once settled in Rhode Island, she began a marketing position at an athletic equipment company there, but found it hard to focus on track and field supplies. “I still had the itch to cook. It was distracting. At work I was thinking of baking,” she says.

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LisaMarie Ianuzzi at Johnson & Wales University in Providence.

Within a year she changed to a job as a server and prep cook with Twist Bakery Cafe in Millis. Professional training was still on her mind. She remembers thinking, “This is the most opportune time to go back to school.”

‘It takes a lot of preparation for both professions. . . . For both careers you have to be very dedicated and precise.’

During the season, this means balancing the demands of her football job and the rigors of an intensive culinary education. This adds up to two 3-hour cheering practices during the week, a full day at Pats’ home games, and six-hour cooking classes at Johnson & Wales beginning at 7 a.m. on weekdays.

Associate chef-instructor Fred Haddad, who taught Ianuzzi last fall, wasn’t aware of her responsibilities outside of his classroom until the two were chatting about sports after class one day. “When she said she was involved with the Patriots I thought she was joking,” Haddad recalls. “But then she gave me a flyer with a photo of her with the team.” Haddad admires Ianuzzi’s dedication to her education. “She’s a true professional, always prepared and a real team player in the classroom,” he says.

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Ianuzzi looked over a pork loin during her meat cutting skills class.

Last summer Ianuzzi worked as an assistant pastry chef at Providence’s Bacaro Restaurant, making vanilla-bean cheesecake with rhubarb jam, and fig and plum tart with creme Anglaise. But when she shares her culinary skills with her cheering team, the menu is a bit different. “I am mindful that they are athletes, and they work very hard to keep a healthy lifestyle,” Ianuzzi says. She might offer the squad a frozen pumpkin pie made with Greek yogurt and spices mounded in a crust of ground oats and graham crackers.

Her fellow cheerleaders don’t always understand what being a culinary student entails. “They think some of the things that I do in school are wacky,” she says, perhaps because she sent photos showing her cutting apart a big beef round in a meat-cutting class she’s taking now. She laughs at their reactions.

Her worlds may seem like an odd pairing, but Ianuzzi sees them as complementing each other. “I think the two go hand in hand. It takes a lot of preparation for both professions.” For school, she has tools she has to keep in a certain way, and for cheerleading, it’s the same. “For both careers you have to be very dedicated and precise,” she says.

On Sunday she’ll be at University of Phoenix stadium cheering. “That is something I could only dream of doing,” she says.

She calls the big day “literally the icing on a delicious cake.”

[LisaMarie at Patriots.com]

Chicago Blitz Girlz are new addition to pro dance scene

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The Chicago Bltiz, a proud member of the American Indoor Football League, is expanding its organization to include for the first time ever a professional dance team. Jenny Hinz, the Director of the Chicago Blitz Girlz informs us of their upcoming Auditions, and additional information is below:

Chicago, Are you Ready to Go Pro?

Chicago Blitz Girlz Prep-Classes
February 12 8:30-10:30pm
*FFC Gym East Lakeview, 3657 N Pinegrove Ave, Chicago Il 60613.

February 19 8:30-10:30pm
*FFC Gym East Lakeview, 3657 N Pinegrove Ave, Chicago Il 60613.

Prep-Classes are $15 per session or $25 for both. Limited spots available email chicagoblitzdancers@gmail.com

$15 per session or $25 for both February 12 and February 19 Prep Classes. Come camera ready as we will be filming the web series: Chicago Blitz Girlz, Making the Team!Email chicagoblitzdancers@gmail.com to register or receive additional information.

Why Come to Prep-Classes?
1. Brush up on technique, flexibility, style and choreography
2. Get a vibe for the style of choreography
3. You obviously love to dance, so dance
4. Dancers who audition and make the team need to be featured in the web series we will be filming during the prep-class and auditions

Photo of the Day – January 29

A New York Lizards Dancer

Sad News: Former Charger Girl Loses Battle to Cancer

From Fox5 San Diego

lylyFormer Charger girl, Lyly Koenig-Mendez, lost her battle to breast cancer on January 20, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

“After hearing the bad news of not being able to treat her for the breast cancer which had metastasized to her liver and had spread… we decided it was best to spend the rest of the time with family,” James Mendez, Lyly’s husband, said Monday.

Mendez, who many described as the life of the party, spent six years cheering in the NFL. Five of those years was spent with the St. Louis Rams. From 2001 to 2002, she cheered for the San Diego Chargers, where she met her best friend, former Charger girl, Tracey Lackovich.

Lackovich recalled what she remembered of Mendez during their time in camp, “[Lyly was] always so happy go lucky. So fun. Her high pitched voice coming into practice, having nicknames for everyone.”

She continued on to say Mendez was a true fighter.

“[Lyly was] like a rock. You wouldn’t even know she was sick… I’m just overwhelmed at the amount of people Lyly has influenced. She clearly left a lasting impression in the hearts and the minds of so many women,” Lackovich said.

Mendez was an orphan from Vietnam. She was rescued in “Operation Baby Lift” in the 1970’s. Camp Pendleton received the orphans rescued by the U.S. military during that time. That’s where her family adopted Lyly, then raised her in a town outside of St. Louis, Missouri.

Mendez’s battle with cancer was brutal. It started in 2006 when she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer. After treatment, she was clear of cancer just one year after diagnosis.

In 2009, she was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer.

“The time it attached to her rib cage, at her sternum,” her husband said.

Following more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation followed as well as surgery, she was said to be cancer free.

Soon after, she was a new bride to James Mendez of the U.S. Army. However, the day he was deployed to Kuwait in 2012, Lyly discovered she had Stage IV cancer that had spread to her bones, liver, lungs and lymph nodes.

One of her final requests before she passed was to have her ashes released in her birthplace of Vietnam, as well as her two favorite beach towns, including San Diego and Miami.The 40th anniversary of “Operation Baby Lift” is scheduled for the end of March, which is when her family hopes to bring her ashes to Vietnam to be reunited with her brothers and sisters. A fundraising website has been set up to help her family make that wish a reality.