By JULIANA A. TORRES
Aug. 30, 2012
PINELLAS PARK – Lindsey Klinesmith, 20, has been cheering since she was 3, but she isn’t sure exactly what prompted her to try out as a Tampa Bay Lightning Girl.
“I just went out and did it, and I don’t know why,” she said.
“Because you miss cheerleading?” her mom and former Thunderbird organization president Kris Klinesmith asked.
It was her first time trying out at a professional level, and while Lindsey thought she would make it past the first round of cuts, she didn’t think she expected to make the team.
“I’ll be happy if I just make it to the finals and don’t make it past that,” she remembered thinking. “And then when I got the call, I was really excited.”
She told her mom the news first, who was so excited for her that she started crying.
“I was really proud,” Kris later said.
Lindsey said the audition process in July was fun, but challenging. In the second round of cuts, she and dozens of other hopefuls competed with seven other veterans from the previous season for 14 spots on the team. Lindsey said she realized that she was up against a lot of pretty, talented girls.
“We had to learn a dance in like 20 minutes, and then it was nerve-wracking with (the veterans) being there and them already knowing what was going on,” she said.
The last step of the auditions was an interview.
Lindsey said she didn’t tell many people that she was trying out for the team, in case she didn’t make it.
This year is the first she hasn’t coached with the T-birds, deciding to give herself more time to take extra classes to finish her associate’s degree at St. Petersburg College. She hopes to graduate next semester and get into a radiography program. Usually, the T-bird season is a big time commitment, with practices five days a week and games on Saturdays, not to mention at least three cheerleading competitions later on in the year.
“Without cheerleading, I probably wouldn’t have half of my friends that I have right now. It’s taught me to be on a team with other girls. It’s been a really fun experience,” Lindsey said. “We all went through cheerleading, and then we all went back to volunteering to coach. So it’s pretty much our lives.”
Lindsey also cheered at Pinellas Park High School, making captain of the team in her senior year. Currently, she works at the Winghouse in Pinellas Park, and admits to being more of a football enthusiast than hockey. When the Lightning team has its first game in October, it’ll be the first time Lindsey will see a hockey game live.
“I’m nervous to be out in front of everybody, because that’s a huge stadium. But I’m excited,” she said. “My coach said that, ‘It’s going to be a really great experience your first time.’”
Her other teammates come from all over the Tampa Bay area, the closest one living in Clearwater. Lindsey said she hopes to try out for the team at least one more year.
“I’m excited to start,” she said.