Photo of the Day – January 28

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Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador Caitlin at the Sideline Prep Workshop on Saturday

A Teacher’s ‘Pinch Me’ Moment: Cheering The Super Bowl From The Sidelines

From WESA.fm

laurenMost teachers will watch the Super Bowl at home, cracking open a beer maybe, or yelling at their flat-screen TVs. Lauren Schneider will be right there on the sidelines, cheering on Tom Brady and her team just feet from the action.

Schneider, a middle school health and fitness instructor at Wellesley Middle School in Wellesley, Mass., is also a member of the New England Patriots cheerleading squad.

It’s a gig she’s always wanted — her mom likes to say she “came out dancing,” and she just never stopped.

For eight years, Schneider went on countless auditions — each year vying for a spot on the Patriots’ or Celtics’ squads. Each year, she came up short. She says she eventually took a year off to regroup, train and build her confidence for a final attempt at her dream.

Last year, when the final selections were posted online, it was her father who called to tell her the news: She had made it.

Schneider remembers her first game under the bright lights of Gillette Stadium was filled with surreal “pinch me” moments. Schneider knew that with cheerleading, where injuries are common, any moment could be her last. And next year, if she wants to be part of the team again, she’ll have to audition and win her place all over again — a team policy.

The Super Bowl marks the end of Schneider’s first year of professional cheerleading — a complicated year of balancing both professional lives.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster this year,” Schneider says.

She believes it’s a good thing it took her more than one audition to make the team. Handing the responsibilities of being a new teacher was challenging enough.

With the Super Bowl ending late on Sunday night, for the first time this year Schneider will have to miss class the next day.

But she planned ahead: “I haven’t taken a personal day all year.”

So on Sunday, in between your second helping of wings and the debates over which commercial was the best — keep your eye out for the blond-haired teacher cheering, smiling and soaking in every moment on the field.

[Lauren at Patriots.com]

Road Trip: The 2015 Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl is a fun filled week of activities for the football fan…or at least it was when I went back in 1995 and 1996. Back then, it was held in Honolulu, Hawaii and it was pretty much five days of football fun set in the most beautiful tropic resort area in the United States. If you tired of schmoozing with retired NFL greats or shooting the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders, you could always check out one of the many attractions that Hawaii has to offer or hang out in the North Shore, like I did.

Good times.

So when I heard that the Pro Bowl was coming to Glendale, Arizona, I was intrigued by the possibilities. And when Mad Max, our former Arizona Correspondent who now lives in the Midwest, invited me to go to the game, I was excited at the prospect of shooting the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders once again and checking out this new fangled, NFL fantasy football game they now call the Pro Bowl.

Well to make a long story short, the game is not what it once was and the NFL may be struggling to figure out how to maintain the Pro Bowl’s relevance in an era where All Star games are more like MTV’s old Rock N’ Jock than real sports play.

At least the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders were the same…and by that I mean top notch!

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I will say this about the Pro Bowl, the vibe at this game was fun and mellow. Fans of all teams mingled together in the Gameday Fan Plaza, sharing stories of the season and generally having a great time together. There was none of the usual alcohol induced bravado or animus that you normally experience at a regular season game. It was chill and people were having a good time, a good time with fans from other teams.

Continue reading Road Trip: The 2015 Pro Bowl

New York Cosmos Girls Auditions and Prep Clinic

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2015 LA KISS Girls Auditions: Boot Camp!

The last time we saw our aspiring LA KISS Girls, they were headed out of Equinox Irvine. As they made their way back to their vehicles, some slumped in defeat, while others felt renewed determination to make the team.

On Sunday, the finalists reconvened for the next step in the process: boot camp. Never having been to one of these before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that there would be a workout and more dancing, and it would take a couple of hours.

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The first thing I learned that day was that Lindsay was injured. She had sustained a couple of gnarly looking curling iron burns that morning and could not get over how much they hurt. Curling irons and flat irons can get to upwards of 400 degrees, and they can do some real damage. Lindsay’s burns had already started turning lots of interesting colors. Nevertheless, she was determined to soldier on. Beauty is pain y’all. Dab some ointment on that bad boy and let’s keep it moving.

The second thing I learned was that the original group of finalists from the Jan 17th audition would be joined by several dancers who had attended a second open call on the 24th and made it through to finals.

New girl!

New girl! (Taylor)

Another new girl!

Another new girl! (Raquel)

Now there were almost 40 finalists all told, and as I looked around the room, it was obvious that no few of them had taken Lindsay’s advice to make themselves look a bit more KISS-able. (See what I did there?) Quite a few had changed their hair and makeup, and many had changed outfits. In most cases, it was an improvement.

A few of them later learned (the hard way) that there is a reason for the old advice to test drive your audition outfit (both the top AND the bottom) ahead of time. Especially if you’re wearing something that’s not meant for vigorous activity. I beg you, ladies. Dance. Roll around on the floor, jog in place. Do a 2 minute plank test. Make sure everything you wear to an audition will stay intact and on your body through the entire process.

[/end public service announcement]

Half of last year’s KGs were also in the mix, ready to fight to win their uniforms back. Five of the six had assisted at the open call: Julianne, Alexis, Xandi, Sheldon, and Niaps (pronounced NAPE-iss.) Vanessa, a sixth KISS Girl who had been a the open call chose not to re-audition. But the good news is, Jules from last year was there to audition for a second season on the team.

Most of the ladies arrived well in advance of the noon call time, expecting to go through a short workout and then learn the rest of the choreography for the finals dance. They had no idea a twist was coming. (Mwahahaha…..)

They got started promptly at noon, starting with a workout guided by the team’s new trainer, Jada. She put them through their paces, with walking lunges, squats, jogging, pushups, planking, burpees*, and other moves I don’t even know the names of.

*Burpees are from the devil. FACT.

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The workout was only about half an hour. I thought it went by fast, but then again, I wasn’t the one planking in full hair and makeup and combat boots. I’m sure it felt endless for all the ladies, but Lindsay reminded them why they are doing this. This team’s dances are difficult and their outfits are tiny. Maintaining yourself in tip top shape is absolutely a job requirement.

The ladies were looking pretty run down at the end of the workout. Everybody was a sweaty mess, and ready to fall out on the floor. But there was no time for lollygagging while there was more choreography to be learned. So after a short break to blot their faces and wring out their hair, it was time to dance.

The first order of business was to review and clean the choreography they’d learned at the open calls.

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They spent about 20 minutes cleaning the old stuff, with Lindsay reminding everyone not to put a whole lotta “extra” in the dance. Just do the moves as they were taught, and do them cleanly, so the judges can see what they are looking for. (In other words, save the flava for your solo, sweetie.)

Then they moved on to the new choreography. As I mentioned last time, the original combination repeated almost entirely from the beginning. This time, they took out the repeat, and that’s where the new moves came in.

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Lindsay explained she was going to teach very fast…and she did. I suppose if I were one of the dancers, I would’ve wondered what the rush was. After all, they’d only been there for an hour. It seemed like there would be plenty of time to learn the rest. In retrospect, they probably should’ve realized what was coming….(insert ominous soundtrack. Duhn duhn duhnnnn…..)

Anybody who thought this was going to be a piece of cake was quickly disabused of that notion. They’d had more than an hour to learn and rehearse the choreography last week. This time, they had less than 30 minutes to absorb and perfect the same amount of material. There’s something happening on every count, and the music is fast.

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It doesn’t seem like it ought to be possible to get your body to do so many different things, in so many different directions, in so few counts. Particularly when it involves the splits, and a “Flashdance” moment like this one.

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But most of the dancers rose to the occasion.

Somewhere along the way, we learned that Lindsay is a lefty. This was not happy news for the dancers. From what I have observed, most dancers are stronger on their right side than on their left. Right splits are easier. Right kicks are higher. Right turns are more balanced. But a lefty choreographer often means lefty splits, lefty kicks, and lefty turns.

At one point in the new choreography, the dancers have to slide down into the splits. Most of them automatically sank to the floor with their right leg in front.

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When one girl asked for clarification and Lindsay explained that it was actually a left split, there was a collective groan. (This is probably what lefties feel like all the time. And that may explain why Lindsay didn’t look even a little bit sorry. Lefty revenge!)

It didn’t really phase the veterans though, as last year’s choreographer had also been a lefty.

A little bit after 1 pm, the door opened and a couple of familiar faces walked in. It was Brian Olea and Raquel Pomplun, the hosts of Playboy Radio’s Mansion Mayhem. Hey, weren’t they judges last weekend? Then another judge arrived. And another.

And this is how they found out there was going to be another cut. Aw hell.

It’s a wonder anyone could concentrate after that. I think most of the ladies thought they were going to have plenty of time to go home and rehearse rehearse rehearse before the next cut.

NOPE!

It was deja vu all over again as the dancers were asked to line up in numerical order and perform for the judges in groups of three.

There was also an additional curve ball as the dancers were asked to introduce themselves and share an interesting fact about themselves. Oh the poor things. They were not prepared. Of all the things running through your head when you’re standing in front of a panel of judges “what’s interesting about me?” isn’t one of them. It threw almost everyone for a loop.

There were some interesting answers. We learned that Abby is from Michigan, Emily is married, Melanie is planning to pursue a PhD, Alexis One is from Denver and Alexis Two was born on April Fools Day. Tara One is a Disney Princess (she plays Ariel and Cinderella at Disneyland). Tara Two had six wisdom teeth. Camille sings opera and was one of the LA KISS go-go dancers last season. Christina has an irrational fear of geese. (And gooses.) Yvonna is from Russia and just got her US Citizenship. Jackie knows how to set her entire body on fire. (Safely, I assume, based on the lack of visible scarring.)

I also think maybe Lindsay could benefit from some of Jackie’s tips on burn treatment and prevention.

After that initial moment of awkwardness, most of the ladies really served it up.

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Jackie (Jacqui?)

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Ellie

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Camille

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Jenna

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Ursula

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Jules

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Alexis

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Christina

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Priscila

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Julianne

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Dani

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Emily

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Sheldon

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Yvonna

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(Sidebar: I bet I got at least some of the names wrong. Apologies, ladies.)

Three by three by three they each took a turn in front of the judges. This time, only a couple of the groups had to go twice. One time was because of me. (I’m sorry, ok? I thought I was helping by volunteering to run the music, but Lindsay’s phone and I did not get along.) Anyway, after that, I got the hell out of the way and let Lindsay handle the music.

As for the judges, this time they were looking for performance and the right energy. They weren’t looking for perfect execution. (Perfection doesn’t exist when you’ve got 25 minutes to learn a dance.) They were just looking for “IT.” Who draws your eye? Who is fun to watch? Who looks like a KISS girl? That’s important, because these dancers don’t just represent LA KISS, they also represent KISS the rock band, and that takes this situation to a whole ‘nother level.

After the dancing, the judges went off somewhere to deliberate. I used the time to look around the room, look through my photos, and try to predict which ladies I think will be chosen. It’s always fun to imagine who will be part of the veteran huddle this time next year. I’m hoping all of the veterans make it back. Aside from them, I have four women I think are definitely in, and another four or five I’m not sure about, but I’m rooting for.

Speaking of veterans, I had a little chit chat with a few of the girls while we were waiting. We reminisced about last year’s audition, which was a totally different experience. This year’s tryout is a much longer process, but is in some ways easier than it was last time around. Last year the ladies had to learn two different combinations, and perform one of them in 4 inch heels. On artificial turf!

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Memories…

This year the dancers got to wear flat shoes and dance on springy wooden floors. They don’t know how lucky they are. I asked the girls if they thought they could do this year’s combination in heels. They all said of course (of course). “Put everyone in heels” one of them said “and that’ll show you your team.” I think she may be right. It’s a bit late in the process to do that now, but it would’ve been an interesting exercise to see who could maintain their level of performance, and who would wobble like Bambi on ice skates. But maybe the girls won’t be dancing in heels this year, and it’s a moot point.

When the judges returned, 45 minutes later, they wasted no time in cutting the group down to 26 finalists. For real this time. (I know everyone thought they were walking in the door a finalist, but not everyone left as one.)

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All of last year’s veterans made it through. Yay!

I’m not sure how many Lindsay will take for the team. I don’t think they have a set number in mind. I’m guessing it will be around 15. I’m usually wrong about these things though. (I have the exact opposite of ESP. Whatever that’s called.)

The final audition is Saturday afternoon. The ladies have a few days to get as ready as they can possibly get. For sure there will not be 26 women on this team, so they’d all better bring their A game to finals. I strongly suspect the team president and at least one of the owners (*cough*Paul Stanley*cough*) will be judging on Saturday, so there’s an extra level of pressure there. All of the ladies on last year’s team were professional dancers. That’s where the bar is, and the LA KISS organization has no intention of lowering their standards. Those two guys expect – no demand – perfection. They are looking for women who are fierce dancers and confident performers. Women who look like they could walk right out on the field with these ladies:

The ones who make the team will be the ones who show up at finals already looking and acting the part. They’ll only have a couple of minutes to show what they can do.

So who’s it going to be? We’ll find out on Saturday…

(More photos to come in a few days)

Pro Tour Productions Super Bowl Tours

It’s the busy season for our good friend Sandy Charboneau. Her Pro Tour Productions has 6 (count’em 6!) overseas military tours going for Super Bowl Week. Sandy shared with us the promo cards from each trip.

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[Pro Tour Productions on Facebook]

The ROAR of Jacksonville Prep Classes & Auditions

ROAR

REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

Auditions are open to candidates 18 years of age and older, as of March 21, 2015 who will receive a high school diploma or equivalent by the end of June 2015.

All applicants selected for the 2015 cheerleading squad must be able to travel to EverBank Field for all Jaguars home games and rehearsals.

All applicants must attend at least one audition class prior to auditioning with the option to attend additional classes for an additional fee.

Applicants must complete online registration and submit payment by Friday, March 6th.

AUDITION SCHEDULE

Audition Classes:
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 (7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m)
and/or
Wednesday, March 18, 2015(7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m)
and/or
Thursday, March 19, 2015 (7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m)

(All applicants must attend at least one audition class prior to auditioning with the option to attend additional classes for an additional fee.)

PRELIMINARY AUDITIONS
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Check-in opens at 9:00 a.m.
(Approximately 3 hours)
(All interested audition candidates must be checked in by 9:30 a.m. to participate in the audition process. Those selected to advance to the semifinal audition will be identified at the conclusion of the preliminary audition.)

[Complete Audition Information]

Photo of the Day – January 27

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A Baltimore Blast Cheerelader from Saturday night’s game.

Sad News: Former 49ers Gold Rush Cheerleader Melissa Galvin Passes Away from Cancer

From 49erswebzone.com

Melissa Galvin, the popular former San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush cheerleader and more recently, one of the hosts of 49ers Total Access, has passed away Saturday night after battling breast cancer for a second time.

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Galvin’s mother battled breast cancer and just six months after she passed, Galvin learned of her diagnoses.

49ers CEO Jed York tweeted out the news last night.

She was first diagnosed in 2011 after discovering a lump while breastfeeding her daughter.

Galvin was part of the Gold Rush squad from 2000 until 2005 and remained a mainstay on the sidelines during games helping to coordinate field events. Her public battle against breast cancer did a tremendous amount to raise awareness through her own fundraisers and was featured during the NFL’s breast cancer awareness campaign which runs every October.

Galvin, who was 34, leaves behind husband Patrick Dobson and two young children, Stella and Brady. She was a Stockton resident and ran Dance Xtreme, a local dance studio.

Read more at http://www.49erswebzone.com/news/79554-former-49ers-rush-cheerleader-melissa-galvin-passes-cancer/#xykXFt3L7vzxzujX.99

Ben-Gals’ Rigdon Travels to Japan

By Marla Toncray
Maysville Online

For Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleader Tina Rigdon, offering support to American men and women serving overseas is something she is extremely proud of.

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Rigdon, who has been on the Ben-Gals squad four years, is one of four National Football League cheerleaders selected by Protour Productions to travel to Japan to meet and greet service men and women serving with the U.S. Army. The other women cheer for the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans.

Selection was made by each team’s cheer squad coach. Protour Productions coordinates the tour each year to promote the NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl.

Rigdon will leave Tuesday for a nine day tour that will take her to a U.S. Army Base Camp Zama, near Tokyo Japan.

During her tour, Rigdon will not only meet with military personnel at Camp Zama, but will also travel to outlying areas of Japan to meet with other U.S. servicemen and woman serving in isolated areas of the country.

“The purpose is to lift spirits and improve morale,” said Rigdon. “I love the fact they picked me and I think it’s awesome. I’m so proud to be an American.”

Before she leaves, Rigdon has been responsible for learning five new dance routines, which will be performed for the troops. She said when she and her fellow NFL cheerleaders step off the plane, they must be “performance ready.” The trip will also include signing NFL calendars and other items, while visiting and talking with the troops about what’s happening back home and of course, the upcoming Super Bowl game, Pro Bowl and the NFL season.

“We will be there and it gives them the NFL experience,” she said.

Atlanta Dream Shooting Stars Auditions

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[Complete Audition Information]

Photo of the Day – January 26

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Erica of the Richmond Lady Raiders at the Sideline Prep Workshop on Saturday

NFL Cheerleaders at the 2015 NFL Experience

I was in Phoenix today at the NFL Experience, hanging out with Mad Max and Pro Bowl Dan and we were fortunate to photograph some NFL cheerleaders at the event.  So here’s a few photos from the event.

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Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2015 Pro Bowl game.

Baltimore Blast Cheerleaders

More photos from the game where Andrew proposed to Sarah

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[Blast Cheerleaders Gallery]

[Blast Cheerleaders on Facebook]

Oops! Westchester Knicks Dancers Gallery

I had the chance to visit the Westchester Knicks Dancers last month, but some how forgot to make all the photos public. So here’s your chance to see the rest of the photos.

 

[WCK Gallery]