After 40-year wait, fans give 28 dancers a thumbs-up for first game.
They bounded onto the field with the energy and athleticism of many of the players who’d soon follow them.
The Detroit Lions Cheerleaders strutted, kicked, twirled, arched, jumped and danced Sunday afternoon during the Lions’ home opener against the Tennessee Titans — a home opener of their own more than 40 years in the making.
Clad in blue abs-baring shirts, short white shorts and white shoes, waving shiny blue pom poms, the 28 women did what the team calls long-form performances after the first and third quarters.
Their routine in the west end zone after the first quarter was set to Detroit native Aretha Franklin’s classic “Respect.” The one after the third quarter was choreographed to “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses.
The Detroit Lions cheerleaders perform during the home opener game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, September 18, 2016 at Ford Field in Detroit. Rashaun Rucker, DFP
Both performances were heavily dance-inspired, as is the norm in the NFL, as opposed to the gymnastics-inspired stunts style popular on the high school and college levels. During each, though, one cheerleader put down her pom poms for some quick gymnastics moves.
They also did a short pregame dance, stood at attention — with one leg cocked each — during the singing of the national anthem. While the game was played, they divided into four groups and hung out in of the four corners of the field — in formation, but breaking out into enthusiastic jumps and moves when the Lions did something great. During breaks, they also did mini-dance routines.
Cheerleading coach Rebeca Smoker was pleased with how the debut went. She said she’d give them a 9 or a 10 out of 10, adding that they’d done “an amazing job.”
“We’re there to connect the fans to our players and add as much spirit as we can and keep everybody involved to help support them,” she said. “And it’s certainly sad about a loss, but we have faith in them. They’re a good team.”
The cheerleaders cheered their own performance.
Briana, a former high school and college cheerleader who works as a recruiter but whose last name was not made public, said she was crying during the cheerleaders’ first performance.
“The fans’ reaction was amazing and they made us all feel comfortable, so that’s what eased our nerves,” she said. “We didn’t know what to expect, but honestly the outcome was very, very amazing.”
Agreed Nicole, who’s new to cheerleading, but has danced since age 4: “The crowd was amazing. They were super supportive. They were cheering us on the whole time. It was incredible.”
The last time the Lions had cheerleaders was during the 1974-75 season, when they played at the Pontiac Silverdome, according to team spokesman Ben Manges. Fan demand is what inspired their return.
“It adds a vivacity; it’s exciting,” said Monica Chown of Metamora, located in Lapeer County.
The 43-year-old physical therapist thought they should be called the Lionesses, though.
Her husband, Rick Chown, 50, a banker, remembers the Lions cheerleaders from four decades ago.
“These are better,” he said. “They look like they’re great dancers.”
He doesn’t think the addition of the cheerleaders in 2016 will translate into more filled seats at games.
“They’re not going to have an impact on ticket sales,” he added. “It’s the product on the field.”
And the cheerleaders are not the product.
Jeannette Anderson, who drove eight hours from Marquette to attend the game, said feminism is about having the right to choose what a woman wants to do.
“I love it, because it brings more women (to games),” said the 33-year-old gas station attendant. “Who doesn’t want to see pretty women dance? They want to do it. We’re supposed to do what we want to do.”
During halftime, one of the two teams playing, the Eastside Eagles, had cheerleaders.
Zoe Carrie, herself a former high school cheerleader, wasn’t wowed by the pros.
“They’re good. They’re something different. They look nervous to me,” said the 20-year-old Northern Illinois University student. “They were out of sync to begin with. I want to see more tumbling. It gives more depth to the performance. It’s more skill.”
Chosen from an open audition of more than 300 this spring, the cheerleaders have trained as much as 12 hours a week under Smoker, herself a former professional cheerleader. Most have dance or cheerleading backgrounds; they have day jobs ranging from a Blue Cross Blue Shield account manager to a Beyonce backup dancer.
She was thrilled to get the job — but then had to secure a visa. She now has one, given on the basis of “extraordinary talent”. After being unable to join the first month of training, Watts said she faced a big catch-up before the season starts next month.
After being unable to join the first month of training, Watts said she faced a big catch-up before the season starts next month.
“I’ve been on the outside —— I wasn’t allowed in just because of the legalities,” she said.
But it is set to be a glam life for the former Mackellar student, who has just got an apartment in West Hollywood, close to Sunset Blvd and the Hollywood Hills.
The squad has a reality TV show on channel E! and she will be involved if another series is commissioned.
“I’ve never thought about myself going on reality TV — when the time comes I’ll have to deal with it,” she said.
“The girls all had fun last year and they’re hoping that there is a season two.”
The only overseas dancer in the squad, Watts said her teammates were still getting used to her lingo. Pictured at Dee Why.
Watts, also a former Cronulla Sharks and Sydney Kings cheerleader, has already been on a trip to Las Vegas, where everything was free.
The only overseas dancer in the squad, Watts said her teammates were still getting used to her lingo.
“I said something about a rig and they were like, ‘What’s a rig?’ and I said, ‘Your body!’ ” she said. “They find it hilarious.”
Watts, whose parents Jan, 56, and John, 61, live in Dee Why, began dancing at aged four at Dance North Academy in Narraweena, where she also recently taught.
LA Clippers reality show
She also worked as a personal trainer.
She said she was not earning a Hollywood wage.
“I wouldn’t say it’s well paid,” she said. “We do it for the love and not the money.”
Time: Registration Starts at 9:30am (Auditions begin promptly at 10:00am)
Location: Anthony Munoz Community Center (1240 W. Fourth St, Ontario, CA 91762)
The Ladies of Fury uphold a high standard of quality dance performance and community involvement to represent the Ontario Fury with professionalism on and off the field. During the audition process, applicants will be judged on dance ability, showmanship, physical fitness, crowd appeal, and individual applications. Final round dancers will participate in a group interview and display their own choreography highlighting strengths and specialties (music will be provided).
To ensure a professional and relaxed atmosphere for all participants, the auditions will be closed. No guests or spectators allowed.
Perform at Ontario Fury home games at Citizens Business Bank Arena
Participate in the annual team photo shoot
Serve as ambassadors for the Fury organization as well as the Inland Empire Community
Be a role model to young dancers and children in the community through Jr. Dance Clinics and various appearances
Possible travel opportunities
Give back to the community through the Fury Foundation and other charity events
Invaluable friendships and memories with fellow teammates
You must be at least 18 years old by date of audition
All dancers must have flexible schedules for rehearsals, games, and appearances starting immediately
A total commitment is required to the Ontario Fury for 1 year
Must be able to attend all Ontario Fury home games
Must be available for mandatory mini-camp on Saturday, October 8 – Sunday, October 9
Rehearsals every Sunday from 3:30pm-6:00pm
All interested applicants should complete an application
A 5×7 or larger (head shot or full body shot) photo is required (photo will not be returned)
What to wear
2-piece attire (crop top w/ athletic shorts or briefs)
Skin colored nylons
Jazz, dance or athletic shoes
Hair worn down; Full hair and make-up
All tattoos must be covered up
For further information, contact Dance Team Director, Lynae de Leon at Ldeleon@ontariofury.com. We look forward to seeing you there!
* * * * *
Editor’s Note: I have been covering the Ontario Fury and their predecessor organization, the Anaheim Bolts for several years now and Lynae de Leon has a knack of developing dance talent that make it onto major league dance teams in the NFL and NBA. This past season, four of her 2015-2016 Ladies of Ontario Fury dancers (Sativa-Skye, McKenzie, Lizzie and Kellie) made it to the Rams Cheerleaders, 49ers Gold Rush, Clippers Spirit and Sacramento Kings Dancers. And several others on that squad were finalists.
So if you are an aspiring professional cheerleader, you might want to hone your skills with Lynae de Leon and the Ladies of Ontario Fury.
The Jaguars will be home this weekend versus the Baltimore Ravens. Tickets are available so try and get out to see the fan friendly ROAR cheer the Jags to victory. We posted some additional photos from our preseason coverage, enjoy:
Perhaps channeling his inner Robin Williams, Late Late Show Host James Corden, along and the guys from A League Of Their Own, joined the Rams Cheerleaders performance during the Seahawks game. Let’s go to the video, and another at this link.
We’ll have to wait and see if other celebs embrace the chance to join the Rams Cheerleaders this season.
And donning the uniform harkens back to the 1970’s, when an episode of Mork and Mindy featured Robin Williams joining the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders. Sorry kids, it was a hairier time. People accused celebrity males (Andy Gibb) of augmenting themselves with chest toupees. Yep, you had to be there.
Tour De Force: \ˌtu̇r-də-ˈfȯrs\ noun – an impressive performance or achievement that has been accomplished or managed with great skill.
This past Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars roared into town to play the San Diego Chargers, who were fresh off a disappointing meltdown loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Things would be different this week as the Chargers stormed out to a 35 point lead and never took their foot off the accelerator. Philip Rivers threw four touchdown passes, tying a career high, and Melvin Gordon ran for 102 yards and another score. A strong defensive effort by the home team doomed the hapless Jaguars, who crossed midfield only six times during the game. This game was over at half time.
Final Score: Navy Blues – 38, Teal Blues – 14.
However, the news wasn’t all good. For the second week in a row, the Chargers lost a key player for the year due to injury. Versatile running back Danny Woodhead tore his ACL and joined Keenan Allen on injured reserved. Who’s next? Philip Rivers?
Well…on to the good stuff…the hottest dance team in the NFL, your San Diego Charger Girls!
I play fantasy football (five championships and counting!) and I have never seen a beginning to a season like this, where there have been so many serious injuries to key players…star players. It’s mind boggling. Let’s hope this misfortune doesn’t plague our favorite sideline entertainers, our beloved cheerleaders.
Okay, let’s begin this week’s coverage of the Charger Girls with the Captains: Marissa, Delani, Bridget, and Teran.
Tonight, the regular season debut of the Vikings’ new digs, US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Kindly, fan Steve peovided some Vikings Cheerleaders photos during the pre-season. During that game, the current squad performed with nearly 200 MVC alumni before the kickoff.
Steve has more photos of the alumni at this link, and the gallery of the sidelines is here.
by Dana Hunsinger Benbow, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Madden’s parents got cancer at the same time. Now cheering doesn’t seem quite as important as her new job.
The nurses were like angels.
Lauren Madden noticed that about them. Their goodness and their gentle, kind spirits.
She noticed the angels because they really didn’t belong where she was — going through hell.
It was five years ago, when Madden was working in a mortgage department, a cheerleader for the Indianapolis Colts — and her father was diagnosed with aggressive duodenal cancer. Six months later, her mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
These two medical professionals from Greenwood — her dad, Tom Madden, an ER doctor; her mom, Terri, a surgical tech — found themselves in hospital beds, needing someone to take care of them.
And as Lauren Madden sat there, she saw the nurses care for the two people who meant the most to her in the world.
“I was just like, ‘Lauren what are you doing with your life? This is what you need to be doing,’ ” said Madden, who had graduated from Ball State University with a telecommunications major in 2010. “‘This is what you were called to do.'”
She immediately applied to nursing school.
Terri Madden, now cancer free, got to see her daughter graduate as a registered nurse in 2014. Tom Madden didn’t. He didn’t get to see her following in his footsteps, in an ER department. He died four years ago on Aug. 8.
“I go into work every day and think about him,” said Madden, 29, a registered nurse at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. “Sometimes I’ll be at work and I’ll think, ‘Oh I wish I could tell my dad that, this funny story, or what would my dad do in this situation?’ ”
As Madden tries to carry on the legacy of her dad, she’s made her own sacrifice.
After five seasons as a Colts cheerleader, she put away her boots. Working 12-hour shifts, caring for sick children is her focus now.
But she does have the Colts to thank for living out this very important dream — being one of those angels like the ones who cared for her dad.
A FATEFUL VISIT
It was the Colts’ annual visit to Riley, when players, big-name players such as Andrew Luck, visit the patients, hand out presents and sing Christmas carols.
Madden — a musical theater performer who at age 9 played Brigitta von Trapp in the Broadway production of “The Sound of Music,” touring 49 states and Asia — was thrilled.
“Doing the appearance at Riley, singing Christmas carols was always my absolute 100 percent favorite appearance,” Madden said Thursday morning before her shift started. “It was all my favorite things wrapped into one day. It was the Colts, nursing, being a cheerleader, kids, Riley, singing.”
But this year, Madden was even more excited. She had decided that with her nursing degree in hand — and already working in ER at St. Francis hospital — she would go for her dream job.
As she and her cheer teammates got ready in the restroom, she told them her plan: “I have to work here. I don’t care how, but I’m going to get a job today.”
After singing songs from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and seeing the children smile, Madden still hadn’t gotten up the nerve to mention to any of the hospital staff what she wanted.
“We’re getting ready to walk out the door. I’m like, ‘This is your chance, come on Lauren, come on, you can do this,’ ” she recalled. “And we’re walking out and I was like, ‘Oh, by the way, if you guys are hiring, let me know.’ ”
Lucky for her, a man named Paul Haut heard her loud and clear.
Dr. Haut, the chief medical officer at Riley, was there to see the caroling Colts. When he heard Madden was a nurse, wanted to work at Riley and was already in the ER, he pounced.
“We need emergency department nurses,” he said. “So, we’re always looking for people who want to work for Riley, who have a need to care for some of the sickest kids in the state. It takes a special soul.”
Madden seemed to have what it took. Haut could tell that right away, so he did something a little unusual.
On the spot, Haut called the manager of the ER and told her he thought he had someone to hire. The manager came down and conducted an impromptu interview with Madden, still wearing her caroling hat and uniform. A few weeks later, Madden got an official interview.
Haut didn’t hear how it all turned out until March, when Madden started at Riley. Haut was wandering around the ER and saw that Colts cheerleader.
“She said, ‘Do you remember me?’ ” Haut said. “Oh my gosh. She got the job.”
They’re at the secret treasure chest — Madden and Nevaeh DeVault, 5. Nevaeh is in the ER, nervous, and Madden is helping her pick out a treat.
Nevaeh finally settles on a pink monkey that she decides to name “Monkey.” Madden smiles.
“I love it,” she tells her patient, as if it’s the most original name there is.
Madden loves the kids. She loves singing the ABCs and classic Disney songs and popular favorites like “Let It Go” from “Frozen.” She’s helped many a kid get through a scary time singing by their bed.
“That’s my favorite part about working at Riley. I know medicine’s important in getting these kids better, but I think making that connection with them (makes a difference),” she said. “Getting them a toy from the secret treasure chest and giving them a high five or a hug.”
That’s what brings the patients and their families comfort. That’s what Madden’s mission is.
Yes, she’ll miss being an NFL cheerleader. Madden knows she will be wishing she were on the field this football season. She still follows the Colts cheerleader Facebook page. But it was her choice to not try out for the 2016 season.
The decision wasn’t all that hard. She often thinks back to her days growing up in Greenwood, sitting around the dinner table with her dad telling stories of the ER. She remembers his cool demeanor that calmed the chaos of the department at Bloomington Hospital of IU Health.
Tom Madden may not have gotten to see his daughter graduate, but as he lay in the hospital tended to by nurses, he knew his daughter would soon be one of them.
“I think he would be proud that I’m at Riley and working with kids every day,” she said. “I still feel like he’s guiding me.”