A few more photos from North of the Border courtesy of our new friend Rick:
The CFL’s British Columbia Lions have posted BIG individual uniform shots for this year’s Felions dance team. Bios are still in progress, but all the photos are up. Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team!
The Canadian Football League kicks off next week. And the Calgary Stampeders have updated their page for the 2014 Outriders
Cheer team preps for CFL football season in weekly rehearsals at fitness club at Morgan Crossing
By Jacob Zinn
The final spot on our 2014 Toronoto Argos Cheerleaders is up to the fans. Watch the three videos and then vote in the poll below to help us pick who gets the final blue rose!
Cast your vote here.
By Molly Hayes
By Frank Luba
There are always more hopefuls for the Felions than there are spots on the B.C. Lions’ dance team, even this year when the squad will probably be larger because the Grey Cup CFL championship is in Vancouver.
Tryouts for the squad began Sunday at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, with Lions dance team co-ordinator Alexandra Severyn overseeing the process of cutting down a group of more than 100 dancers to a maximum number of 42 Felions.
Severyn, 36, is a former ballet instructor and looks like she could rejoin the squad she was a member of in 1998.
But the mother of three is looking for the next generation of dancers.
There were 34 dancers last year and 25 have come back but everybody still has to audition and be willing to do an awful lot more than just shake some pompoms.
“It’s a commitment from March until December 1,” said Severyn.
Dancers are required to attend three-hour practises every Sunday and then put in seven-hour shifts on game days.
There’s also up to 250 promotional appearances dancers from the team make, so anyone selected has to be available for a share of those events.
The qualifications to be a Felion, according to Severyn, are “excellent dance ability, outgoing personality, physically fit and a B.C. Lions fan.”
Marissa Culpin, 25, of Abbotsford has fit that bill before, winning a spot on the Felions the previous four seasons.
“I love to dance, I love being on a team, I love all the girls on the team and I love football,” she said.
Being a Felion fits into Culpin’s career as a dance teacher.
“I have been dancing since I was four or five years old and I still do it today,” she said.
Culpin is committed to dancing.
“I will dance until my body will not allow me to anymore,” she said.
At the other end of the Felion aspirational scale from Culpin was Sharmaine Duell, who just turned 19.
The Australian native, who also holds Canadian citizenship, actually tried out for the squad last year but didn’t know dancers have be at least 19.
She also has extensive training.
“I’ve been dancing for about eight years,” said Duell, who has a diploma in commercial dance and musical theatre.
Sports teams in Australia have more cheerleader-style squads instead of dancers, said Duell.
But what the Felions do interests her.
“I really love sports,” she said. “I love the atmosphere of a live game and I love dance. So this has both.”
And there’s more.
“They [Felions] always seem to have fun when I’ve seen them,” said Duell.
There’s more fun, of course, if the Lions win — but that’s up to coaches and players, not their dance team.
Kyla Findlay, Head Coach of the CFL Calgary Stampeder Outriders, tells us that Sunday’s open auditions were a big success. They are starting training camp later today and will have the final team picked by March 12.
Date: Sunday, Mar. 2
Attire: Dance or athletic bra top, short dance shorts (hot pants), dance shoes or runners. Wear hair and make-up as you envision wearing it on game day. Hair must be worn down.
Criteria: You must be 19 years of age by July 1, 2014. You must be able to attend all rehearsals and other related activities. The auditions are also closed to the public for viewing.
Additional information: Please arrive with enough time to warm up on your own before the audition. We will start with some across the floor exercises, including but not limited to: walks, high kicks, jete and pirouettes.
You will have one hour to learn a one-minute routine similar to what we do on the field during home games. You will perform this routine for the judges in small groups, after which the first cut will be made.
If you are invited to stay for the semifinals, you will be performing the routine in smaller groups for the judges. Those being invited to our 2014 training camp will be notified by noon the following day.
Benefits of being a Tiger-Cats Cheerleader
Dance for a professional sports team
All women wishing to audition for the 2014 Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleading team must meet the following requirements:
You must have a dance, cheer and/or gymnastics background.
Cheer Tryout Agenda – Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 5 Star Fitness – 1215 Stone Church E., Hamilton, Ontario
10:30-11:00am – Registration
* interviews will be held on Wednesday, March 12 at the Ticats Head Office – sign-up sheet provided at the auditions.
What to Wear
All women auditioning for the 2014 Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleading Team should come dressed in proper attire:
All black dance wear – half top and leggings or shorts (no baggy tops or pants)
What to Bring
Please bring the following items with you to the audition:
What We Are Looking For
There are a number of qualities in a Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleader that we will be looking for at the audition:
Fit, talented, enthusiastic women
(note: after this was posted, the Tiger-Cats won, and for the first time since 1999, the Tiger-Cats are playing in the Grey Cup against Saskatchewan in Regina. Recent Tiger-Cat Grey Cup wins were in 1972, (14 years later) 1986, (13 years later) 1999, (14 years later) ???)
If there was a Hall of Fame for CFL Cheerleaders, certainly Lesley Stewart would be a charter member. Lesley is Head Coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleaders, in her 21st year of CFL cheer, combining time both on the field and as coach. Devotion to their football team, their cheer team, and dance starts with Lesley, but continues throughout the squad. For instance, Assistant Coach Lauren Yaksich is in her ninth year with the Ticats, after eight on the field. And Captain Andrea is right there to, in her eighth season on the squad.
As the Ticats take on Toronto today for an opportunity for a chance to play in the 101st Grey Cup, UltimateCheerleaders spotlights these three women, all dedicated to pro cheer for the long-term.
So, what keeps Andrea coming back for eight years? “I just love dancing,” Andrea answers. “I love Lauren and Lesley. I love the team. So it’s kind of addicting, the adrenaline when you are out on the field. You just can’t get that really anywhere else, once you’ve peaked during your competitive dancing ages. I compare it to being part of a sorority in the states, because we don’t have sororities.”
Hamilton native Andrea is a Ticats Cheerleaders captain, but her main focus is pursuing a career in education. Andrea graduated with honors with a BA in English and Cultural Studies from McMaster University, and a Bachelors of Education from Brock University.
Last season, Lauren was the eight year veteran, and now serves as Assistant Coach in her ninth season in the organization. Lauren says, “It just became a lot with my work, so it’s nice that I can still be able to help out.”
Lesley says about Lauren stepping away from the sidelines, “She has a fantastic job working at the airport, so if she needs to travel with her job, she can miss a practice or a game without feeling like she is letting down the team. And it gives me that opportunity as well to do the same thing, because I know I have someone still there rather than asking captains, because then captains are stepping out of line too. It’s been a really crazy year for me, so it’s been the opportunity that I can say to Lauren, ‘I just can’t be there,’ and she can be there.
Lauren adds, “It’s fun, too, because we do all of our choreographies, so you’re still dancing a lot, it’s just that you’re not performing.”
During on-field practice before the games, Lesley and Lauren are both actively moving to show the team the routines, and were happy that they were able to jump in and dance at Pro-Dance in Las Vegas. “We would both be totally still be dancing on the field, but there is a point where you have to not do that anymore,” laughs Lauren.
And even with Andrea’s eight seasons added to Lauren’s ninth season, they still cannot sum to Lesley’s 21 seasons of CFL cheer. Before her CFL career, Lesley danced for Hamilton Skyhawks basketball team. But the was just the opening act for (a) two seasons cheering for the Tiger-Cats, (b) ten seasons as Toronto Argonauts Cheerleader, and four seasons included being their Head Coach and Choreographer, then (c) nine seasons as Head Coach and Choreographer of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheer Team.
A lifelong dancer and then fitness instructor, Lesley is also well known throughout the region as TV/Radio personality. Lesley is an original member of the Morning Live team on CHCH News. Lesley was the Weather and Traffic Specialist for many years, and she is now an interactive community reporter or co-host when needed. In 2011, Lesley also became host of TERRA @ Home, a lifestyle show for Terra Greenhouses that airs on CHCH News Saturday mornings, and can also be found at www.terragreenhouses.com.
Despite all this activity plus a young son, Lesley is still a CFL devotee. And today, Lesley’s two CFL teams clash for a spot in the Grey Cup as Toronto hosts Hamilton. While a cheerleader for Toronto, the Argos won three Grey Cups, and she still awaits her first Tiger-Cats Cup win during her tenure in the organization.
But no matter what, as is the tradition, ALL of the CFL cheer squads will be attending the Grey Cup in Regina. Lesley says, “Our league is really good about having out team always present at everything , so we all go to Grey Cup, and you don’t see that at any other league. Which is really, really fun for everybody.”
Fun, and this year, maybe a little cold, with forecast highs in Regina for the Grey Cup Sunday of -6 C/21 F. No matter what, the collective sorority of CFL cheerleaders will be there, no matter what the weather. After all, Grey Cup is part of Canadian history, and Lesley, Lauren, and Andrea are writing their own chapters in the history books of CFL cheerleading.
Thanks so much to Lesley, Lauren, and Andrea for their time, and also to Maurice Grant and Mike Hardill of the Tiger-Cats for all of their assistance at the August 24th home game against Winnipeg. There are more photos of Andrea during those sunny summer at this link.
Only a few minutes after meeting Kim of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Cheerleaders, her bountiful ebullience and laughter, reflecting a truly positive spirit, is readily apparent. A story from childhood about her joyous attitude towards going to school still reflects Kim’s personality today. “I would always skip to school,” Kim remembers. “My parents’ house was backed onto the schoolyard. I would skip across the schoolyard and skip to school, and my mom would be dragging my brother, and he would be screaming and kicking. My mom would say, ‘Okay, I understand him; I don’t understand her. Where did she come from?”
Kim just comes from a truly joyful place, and instead of skipping to school to see her classmates, these days she dances to the Tiger-Cats sidelines with the teammates that she treasures. And this weekend, Kim and her Tiger-Cats Cheerleaders peers will be there as the Tiger-Cats take on Montreal in the CFL playoffs. Earlier this season, Kim shared with UltimateCheerleaders her loves of performing, the outdoors, art, and the ways her dad would drain her high energy as a child, and how brushes and canvas utilize her abundant energy today.
Kim is from the Cambridge, Ontario area, and is in her third year as a Tiger-Cats Cheerleader, and she absolutely loves it! After many years of recreational rhythmic gymnastics, in tenth grade Kim started cheerleading. “I did competitive cheerleading, stunting, all of that,” Kim recalls. “I went to World’s three times, and then my body was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ (laughs).”
What was the most physically demanding aspect? “Stunting; I was the thrower and the catcher,” Kim answers. “On the younger teams, the ‘tops’ are little, and as you get older, then you are throwing people your height and your size, and I couldn’t do it anymore. So I hated to have to leave that, because I LOVED cheerleading. Then, I knew this was dance, so I could still do the performance and the team aspect, but not kill my body.”
So how did Tiger-Cats Cheerleading get Kim’s attention? Kim says, “I had a friend that was on the team, and she said, ‘You should try out, it’s super fun!’ And so I did, because I knew I could not do competitive cheerleading anymore.”
Kim’s love of being part of the Tiger-Cats organization is fully evident as part of an overall enthusiastic effervesce. Was Kim always a high energy kid? Kim nods, saying, “My dad, when I was a kid, would say, ‘Okay, I dare you to run ten laps around the house as fast as you can.’ And then I would say, ‘I did it!’ He would say, ‘Ten more!’ (laughs) He would always make fun of me because I would practice routines in the living room.”
So besides her high energy, has Kim always liked being on stage? Matter of fact-ly, Kim replies, “Love it.” Asked if she ever had any nerves, “Not performing; Speaking, yes,” Kim replies. “Speeches at school were not fun. Everyone would say, ‘But you compete,’ but it’s different.”
Also, performing as part of a dance squad also allays any possible nerves today. “It’s being part of a really awesome team, too,” Kim says. “I know that might sound corny, but it’s totally true. I wouldn’t do that (as Kim points to the sidelines) by myself, but with these girls, I would.”
Kim’s first game as a Tiger-Cats Cheerleader was quite memorable, as she recalls, “I almost cried the first time. It was when they play ‘Oh Canada,’ because Hamilton has a GIANT Canada flag. They pull it all the way across the field. And you are standing out there, and often there is a big ‘woo-hah’ as the players run out and we do our tunnel. Then you turn and you stand, it’s quiet, ‘Oh Canada’ plays, and it is one of the most powerful things, because you know you are part of something pretty awesome. It’s Canadian history. At that point I thought, ‘I am sold! I love this, leave me on the field. I’ll be a happy girl.’”
This has been a memorable season for the Tiger-Cats on many fronts. They play this year in Guelph as they await completion of a brand new stadium in Hamilton for next season to replace Ivor Wynne Stadium. About a new stadium, Kim says, “I am SO excited. I mean, it was sad to see Ivor Wynne go, but we are so pumped!”
The Tiger-Cats are also a tight-knit team, with the highest number of returning members in their history, with only four rookies in a team of 22. And Kim notes, “The four rookies are incredible. They are catching on like that (snaps fingers), showing some of us veterans up (laughs). So that’s always good.”
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