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From W.F. West Cheerleading to a Sea Gal

On the Seahawks Sidelines: Local Woman Earns Spot on Professional Football Cheer Squad

By Andy Campbell
The Chronicle Online

When Heather Livingston auditioned to be a Husky cheerleader right out of high school in 2005, no one expected she’d make it on the first try.

The W.F. West graduate made the team, graduating from the university with her bachelor of arts degree in sociology last year.

When she auditioned early this month to become a Sea Gal, a professional cheerleader with the Seahawks, no one, not even her, thought she’d make it on the first try.

Think again.
Now 23, Livingston was chosen out of about 260 hopefuls to become one of the 28 women who had inspired her throughout her dancing and cheering career.

“I learned about it online and I thought, you know what? I’m gonna give it a shot,” Livingston said. “I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Currently located in Snoqualmie, she works as a substitute elementary school teacher and plans to get her Masters degree in education through the University of Washington.

Heather, now 23, poses as a cheerleader for the W.F. West squad she used to cheer on. She was accepted to work as a Sea Gal, a Seahawks Professional Cheerleader, in early May. After high school she went on to cheer at the University of Washington.

It’s going to be a tough schedule this summer, she said, because being a Sea Gal is not all dancing and smiling. It’s hard work.

She’ll practice at night two or three times a week, memorize moves and choreography and take part in some 300 community events throughout the 2009 football season.

“There’s a lot expected out of these girls; it’s fun but it’s a huge commitment and it’s not easy,” said Sherri Thompson, former Sea Gal and current coach. “That said, it’s a very rewarding and mature, professional environment.”

Thompson agreed that being accepted as a Sea Gal could be comparable to being accepted as a Seahawk, but in the cheerleading world and without a celebrity’s pay.

She said Livingston is a great athlete, is well spoken, well educated and a good dancer. While there may be some things to work on like anyone else, more training will fix that, Thompson said.

Livingston’s mom, Colleen Frazier, said she was excited for and proud of her daughter for the accomplishment. Frazier was a cheer instructor at W.F. West for eight years until she and her family moved to Snoqualmie in 2005.

She said she thinks her daughter will probably go on to become a coach herself.

“It’s an extremely rewarding profession when you work both in and out of the classroom with kids,” Frazier said. “She’s had a passion for dancing since she could walk. She’s always been an entertainer.”

Livingston said she always looked up to the women on the Sea Gals, for their intelligence, community involvement and talent.

“In this program they’re all very classy girls,” Livingston said. “Some of them are lawyers, teachers … They all have a lot going for them and the community looks up to them.”

She said she’ll definitely be trying out again next year.

Making the Cut

Roughly 260 women auditioned in early May for one of the 28 paid positions available on the team.

Thompson said there are a couple of steps she and judges will take to file down the numbers:

First, the girls bring in their applications and a head shot, then are put into groups of three to dance. Their general style is scrutinized, and half of them are cut.

Second, they’re taught a dance that they have one day to practice. They’re cut in half again, when this year’s number would have been at about 65.

Then there is an interview process. Judges are left with about 40 girls and last year’s veterans, who automatically make the final round. These women answer questions on camera and dance to a final choreography before the final 28 are chosen.

Livingston said the main components to a good Sea Gal audition are showmanship and performance, general ability, good interviews and a clean lifestyle.

Obviously there is going to be a certain physical expectation that the Sea Gals must follow — they must stay fit, work out, and hold their set weight within about a three-pound window.

Since Livingston looked up to these women when she was a small child dancing her heart out, she had some advice for those little girls who will now undoubtedly look up to her.

“I would say, just stick with it. Keep active in dancing, and never, ever give up,” she said. “Even if you think you can’t do it like I did, just give it a shot. Also, stay active in your community throughout your life and be a positive role model.”

When it came to becoming a cheerleader — or any other career path or dream, for that matter — Heather Livingston couldn’t be told no. One mustn’t tell themselves no, either, or they’ll miss out on opportunities like these, she said.

[Seattle Sea Gals]

1 comment to From W.F. West Cheerleading to a Sea Gal

  • Jade Bogenreif

    Hey i am 16 years old and i would love to becaume a sea gal. I am the cheer caption at my school and i cant get enough of it. Please send me some information on what i could do know to help me in the future with me becoming a sea gal. Thank you!