Let’s congratulate inaugural Detroit Lions Cheerleader Heather on being selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl.
Let’s congratulate inaugural Detroit Lions Cheerleader Heather on being selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl.
SI.com has uploaded a gallery of NFL cheerleaders from week 17. More interesting photos this week. Click here to view the gallery.
SI.com has uploaded a gallery of NFL cheerleaders from week 14. More interesting photos this week. Click here to view the gallery.
SI.com has uploaded a gallery of NFL cheerleaders from week 12. More interesting photos this week. Click here to view the gallery.
SI.com has uploaded a gallery of NFL cheerleaders from week 11. More interesting photos this week. Click here to view the gallery.
NFL teams that hosted games during week 7 of the regular season have uploaded photos of their cheerleading squads to their team sites. Click on the links below to go to the team page galleries.
Los Angeles Rams
NFL teams that hosted games during week 6 of the regular season have uploaded photos of their cheerleading squads to their team sites. Click on the links below to go to the team page galleries.
NFL teams that hosted games during week 5 of the regular season have uploaded photos of their cheerleading squads to their team sites. Click on the links below to go to the team page galleries.
SI.com has uploaded a gallery of NFL cheerleaders from week 5. Click here to view the gallery.
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.
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.
NFL teams that hosted games during week 2 of the regular season have uploaded photos of their cheerleading squads to their team sites. Click on the links below to go to the team page galleries.
Detroit Lions strongly considering adding cheerleaders
By Kyle Meinke
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions are one of seven NFL teams without cheerleaders.
That could be about to change.
“It’s a very popular question, and it’s one that as I said before, it’s not off the table,” president Rod Wood said Thursday night during a question-and-answer session with season-ticket holders.
“I’m taking strong consideration. How’s that?”
That? Well, it’s about as open as the Lions have been in recent years to the idea of adding cheerleaders. Former president Tom Lewand routinely poo-poo’d the idea. He seemed to take pride in the franchise being one of seven without them, along with Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the New York Giants.
But the new regime is turning over the organization at a dizzying rate, and while most of those changes have affected the football side of things, the business and marketing side have undergone their own makeover.
Wood has been focused on improving the game-day experience at Ford Field, and it seems cheerleaders could be on the docket.
“Stay tuned,” he told the crowd. “We’ve got 2,000 (fans in this room who are cheerleaders) already. We may be adding to that.”
Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Bah!
When they got their start five years ago, the Detroit Pride Cheerleaders were kind of a joke. Actually, that’s literally how they started. Andrea Wilamowski was catching a game with her husband and a Lions executive when the idea crossed her mind.
“My husband was a sponsor of the Lions, and we were friends with one of the executives that worked for them and it started out kind of as a little joke,” says Wilamowski. “We sat there and everyone was like ‘Why don’t we have cheerleaders?’ Because it’s really boring, you know, the two-minute warning and the places where you’d normally have entertainment, there’s nothing. So, as a joke, off the cuff, I just said I would start a team.”
So she gathered up some sponsors and struck up some interest and in 2010, she founded the Detroit Pride Cheerleaders. And they were all set to be the Lions’ first official cheer squad.
“This executive had said to me, ‘If you get the team started, you bring it to me and we’ll talk,'” she says. “We got a group of people and businesses interested and really wanting to pursue it, and I went back to the Lions and they said, ‘Oh, my God, this is wonderful, but we’re not ready yet. Maybe next year.'”
Now the team is heading into its fifth year, and they’re still not the Lions’ official squad. That doesn’t hold them back, though, and they aren’t shunned by the franchise in any way. In fact, players act as guest judges during tryouts and often attend the final showdown that takes place at the Fillmore.
“The Lions players appreciate us,” Wilamowski says. “They always have been excellent with us. They encourage us to keep doing what we’re doing and they appreciate the fact that we’re out there helping to support them and the city.”
Wilamowski says the franchise supports them, just not with cash, and it’s an expensive business to run. Just getting the girls into a game at Ford Field costs the team upwards of $4,000.
“We have to rely on sponsors and our calendar and our look book sales to keep the team going,” Wilamowski says. “I didn’t start this team with a ton of cash in the bank because it was something we were doing for fun, but then it turned into something very serious right away. We have all of our different sponsors that we do business with, which is very helpful, but what people don’t realize is that we purchase our tickets when we go into the games.”
Ironically, the girls never sit in the seats those tickets belong to. Instead, they stand on the concourse, shaking hands and taking pictures with fans.
“As soon as the girls walk in, they’re smiling for three solid hours,” Wilamowski says. “They stand in three-and-a-half inch boots from 10:30 in the morning to 5:30 at night. We go on the concourse and lines form immediately. We separate the girls into different groups, and we put them in different places because if all of the girls stand in one place, there’s a massive line that forms all the way down the concourse.”
Sure, they get their share of creepy drunks who go for boob-grabs and upskirts, but more often than not, their biggest fans are too young to even contemplate such crudeness.
“I think that the biggest reward is when you see the little girls that are 4 to 10 years old, and the girls will hand them a pom-pom and take a picture and the look on their faces is amazing,” Wilamowski says. “To them, these cheerleaders are, with all their rhinestones and sparkles and their shiny poms, they’re a hero, they’re a princess. It’s a really rewarding moment.”
Felicia Kollias is entering into her second year as a Detroit Pride Cheerleader and meeting with those miniature fans is one of her biggest rewards. She gushes about those fan interactions, noting it was the biggest surprise of getting to be part of the Detroit Pride.
Kollias works as a receptionist at a hair salon and goes to school full-time for teaching. Cheering with the Detroit Pride takes up a considerable amount of her time, but to her it’s worth it.
“We perform outside for every home game,” she says. “We don’t just cheer. We do dances with the crowd, and there is lots of interaction. Rain or shine, we’re outside performing. Because we aren’t official cheerleaders, we’re able to have more interactions with fans.”
Being able to interact with fans is one reason Wilamowski likes the Pride’s independence.
“It takes a lot to put together a sanctioned team, and those teams spend most of their time performing,” she says. “Eighty percent of our time is spent on fan interaction, and 20 percent is spent performing. If we were to become an official team, it would be the opposite. Now we’re able to pick the charities we work with and the events we do; there’s a lot less red tape.”
Doing charity work is a big part of being a Pride cheerleader. In fact, they’re required to make philanthropic appearances and attend community events.
“The girls have a certain amount of charitable appearances that they have to do every year,” Wilamowski says. “They do not get paid for them. And they also do four or five community appearances that they have to do a year, and then after that they have the potential for paid opportunities, and we do a lot of appearances throughout the year, not only on game days but on off days, too,” she says.
While their schedule wasn’t solidified at press time, you can usually find the Pride cheerleaders inside Ford Field during games, but you won’t see them there during Monday Night Football due to the high cost of tickets. During that game, they’ll perform at halftime at the Fillmore at a special viewing party. Aside from that, fans can keep up with them on Facebook and their official website. — mt
By John Froelich
Over the years, I have photographed many professional cheerleaders and as luck would have it, three of them were cast on current television shows. Morgan, a former 49ers Gold Rush member, is currently on the latest edition of Survivor, Survivor: Cagayan, and is featured on the premiere episode entitled, Hot Girl With A Grudge.
And earlier this season on The Bachelor, former Detroit Pride Cheerleader Cassandra and former Phoenix Suns Dancer Kat were featured prominently on the show.
Unfortunately for them, they were eliminated in episode 6. But they’ll be back on the reunion show on Monday.
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