A Dallas Stars Ice Girl
By Sunni Upal
The NFL is returning to London this year with three International Series contests and the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders arrived ahead of Sunday’s game. The Dolphins take on the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon in an intense AFC East divisional match at Wembley Stadium. Both teams arrive in the UK on Friday for their grudge match, but the Dolphins cheerleaders headed over a tad earlier to soak up the city.
The cheerleaders visited Wembley ahead of Sunday’s game and also spent some time at Regent’s Park in nearby north London. They also visited Abbey Road, the scene of the famous zebra-crossing photo taken by the Beatles. Many of the cheerleading squad will have never performed outside of the United States before, let alone Florida, but they will be providing some entertainment on Sunday for the expected crowd of over 80,000.
Although the Dolphins came to London last season, they were the designated away team which meant their cheerleaders did not perform at Wembley as the Oakland Raiders did instead. Come Sunday, the Dolphins will be banking on the support of their UK-based fans and cheerleaders to help them beat their divisional rivals after starting the season with two losses from their opening three games. The players themselves will practice at Saracens’ Allianz Park on Friday having flown overnight from the United States straight after their practice on Thursday.
By James Dunn
This is the amazing moment when a dolphin returned an iPhone to its owner after diving to the bottom of the sea to retrieve it.
However, dolphin Cacique saw the phone drop and dived to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve it.
The clever dolphin eventually emerged with the phone in its beak and gave it back to one of the men on the boat.
He then hands it back to bikini-clad Miss Cee, who is delighted that it had been returned from the depths.
Miss Cee wrote: ‘True Story: While in the Bahamas, I had the opportunity to go swimming with dolphins on The Bahamas.
‘We were filming on this floating platform in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. So, against a my better judgment I asked someone to hold my phone for me and he accidentally dropped my phone into water and it sank to the bottom.
‘Cacique, the dolphin, actually retrieved my phone and brought it back up to me. Cutest thing ever!’
People were amazed by the video, now liked by more than 46,000 people and shared more than 20,000 times.
One viewer, James Kim, wrote: ‘Dolphins are such awesome creatures.’
Another person, Yeszteyei Masochism, wrote: ‘I watched this more than five time. Adorable.’
There were also plenty of people asking if the iPhone in the video still works after being submerged.
Clinton Ikechi wrote: ‘She said it’s never gonna work again but thanks.’
Lake Travis High School alum and former Cavalette Simone Culwell is taking her skyward kicks to new heights as a recently minted member of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Culwell, a 2011 graduate of LTHS, attended the University of Hawaii Manoa and graduated with degrees in anthropology and communications. Culwell said being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader has held allure to her for a long time.
“I’ve kind of always wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader ever since I was a little girl,” Culwell said. “Originally, I did competitive gymnastics, and then I made the Lake Travis Cavalettes my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t get serious about trying out for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders until my junior year of college, when I started training and getting into shape and mentally preparing, studying up on Dallas history and the current players.”
Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are expected to know everything about the team, Culwell said, and she took the requirement seriously. Tryouts for the cheerleading team took place in May, and the initial pool of 350 hopeful girls was cut down to a training camp of 46 and then a final team of 34, Culwell said. Her days as a Cavalette helped her out in a crucial way, she said.
“A lot of girls get cut during the semifinal round if they don’t have good kick technique, and as a Cavalette I learned kick technique,” Culwell said. “I did jump splits on the Cavalette team, so I’m more comfortable with my kick background since I did that back in the day for every single halftime. It’s one less thing I had to worry about.”
Cheerleaders risk hamstring and knee injuries just performing their regular routines, Culwell said.
“Your body is not supposed to be flying in the air and landing in the splits, but we do it anyway,” she said. “My body is aching from the game yesterday – three straight hours of full-out dancing.”
She learned 40 new dances during her time in Dallas Cowboys cheerleader training camp, and faced particular challenges when an old injury returned.
“I had sprained my shoulder and had tendonitis in my rotator cuff, and when I started training camp, it flared up again,” Culwell said. “When I couldn’t even move it, they called me in the office and told me to take it day by day but if it took too long to recover I’d have to be let go from training camp. … It was hard to learn dances and practice, and by the end of training camp, I was getting a little nervous I was falling behind, but I ended up making the team, and what makes that more rewarding is I dealt with a lot of adversity.”
While currently busy with practice, games and other promotional appearances, Culwell hopes to get a public relations job in Dallas. She regularly visits her family in the Village of the Hills, and her parents come out to almost every game to support her, she said.
“One of my favorite things about being a part of this organization is being an influence for young girls,” she said. “The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are world-class women, and I love what we stand for and being an inspiration to everybody.”
by Deirdre Reilly
Hear the words “football cheerleader” and what comes to mind? Probably a combination of American fantasy and culturally idealized females — squads of beautiful, athletic women high-kicking, clapping and pyramid-building on the gridiron sidelines as your favorite team battles it out toward victory.
Though they are certainly pretty, peppy, and fit, professional NFL cheerleaders are much more than meets the eye.
They’re highly educated, professional women with careers in multiple fields who cheerlead part time as a way to fulfill their interests in dance, charity work, and public speaking.
Meet two NFL cheerleaders:
Karen Link, 24, New England Patriots
Karen Link is proud of her colleagues on the New England Patriots cheering squad.
“For many of us, cheerleading is not the only job we have,” she says. “The women I cheer with are so much more than ‘dancers on a field.’ Many of us have corporate jobs, and cheering is part time. Currently we have a neuroscientist, a bio-mechanical engineer — and one woman just moved out of state to become a dentist.”
Cheerleading hours are long, and happen after the “real” workday is over. For Link, it means eight-hour days at her corporate job, and then every Tuesday and Thursday a 90-minutes drive to Foxboro, Massachusetts, for several hours of practice. Then there’s the game on Sunday or Monday nights. Cheerleaders also practice many hours each week during the off-season.
So why do it?
“The chance to perform in front of 70,000 fans is one reason,” Link told LifeZette. “Another is the chance to practice dance, something I have always loved. Additionally, we do a lot of appearances and public speaking, and we work hard for charity. That is extremely rewarding to all of us — the chance to give back. We participate in toy drives; we serve food to the homeless. We make hundreds and hundreds of public appearances a year. Our larger community is extremely important to our whole organization.”
“The other women are amazing, truly,” Link said. “We are like sisters. The social aspect, for me, is worth all the hard work. I love the other girls, and we really support one another.”
And the pay? For many, surprisingly low. Many NFL cheerleaders earn about $125 per game. This July, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed into law a bill that designates cheerleaders in the state as employees rather than independent contractors, which would entitle them to meal breaks, paid sick leave, and the minimum wage, according to the Los Angeles Times. Cheerleaders for the Los Angeles Raiders, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills, have sued their teams, alleging those teams withheld pay and did not reimburse mandatory expenses, among other claims.
Some cheerleaders, such as Link and her fellow cheerleaders for the Patriots, are part-time employees of their team and are compensated for their appearances on behalf of the team.
Link’s best moment? Going to last year’s Super Bowl as a rookie cheerleader.
“I was over the moon,” she said. “It was a fantastic whirlwind of excitement and opportunity. If I could re-live that victory every day, you bet I would!”
Dana Luker, 29, Atlanta Falcons
What drives Luker to be a cheerleader? Her love of the game.
“I absolutely love football,” Luker told LifeZette. “It has been my favorite sport since I was a little girl. I grew up in Atlanta, and most of my family members attended the University of Georgia. So as you can imagine, there were no two football teams that I would’ve rather cheered for than the Atlanta Falcons and UGA.”
Related: Ready for Some Football, Ladies?
She has accomplished both. But Luker has a full-time job as a CPA.
“I help clients with preparation of reviewed and audited financial statements,” she said. “I am focused on managing benefit plans, construction and technology audits, but I also work for a large insurance brokerage firm and on a number of smaller engagements.”
She explains how she manages her professional schedule and her cheer schedule.
“On practice days, I make sure that I get to work early enough to finish everything that needs to be done that day so that I can leave work around 4:30 p.m., run home to let my dog out and feed her, and then head to practice, which typically starts at 7:30 p.m.,” she said.
“Fortunately, my busy season as a CPA is during the off-season for the Falcons, and we do not have required practices during the off-season,” Luker said. “While we are not required to attend group fitness workouts as a team, we make sure that we are getting those in regularly on our own time. We typically workout on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and in the morning before we start work or school.”
Her favorite part of being an NFL cheerleader? The time with her “peers of cheer.”
“Every single Atlanta Falcons cheerleader has an awesome and inspirational story to share,” she said. “We all have full-time jobs or are full-time students, so at practice, I am surrounded by girls juggling as much or more than me. We celebrate successes together and support each other through tough times.”
She added, “I am definitely a better woman for having been a part of such a wonderful team.”
Despite their foothold as icons in the world of American sports, today’s cheerleaders are working hard not just on the football field during halftime, but in other aspects of their lives, modernizing their brand and busting old myths that depicted them merely as peppy gals with pompoms.
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