Six Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders left last week for Iraq and Kuwait on a 12-day tour to visit U.S. troops. Janelle Stangl, of Bethlehem Township, Pa., a Freedom High School graduate, is among them.
This is the second year members of the cheering squad have traveled to the Middle East to visit U.S. servicemen and women, a news release says. They will perform variety shows and host meet-and-greets and autograph sessions. The cheerleaders also will fly in military helicopters and sleep in the barracks to experience first-hand some of the troops’ conditions.
In addition to Stangl, who is in her second year on the squad, the women on the trip are Amanda Bedford, Krystle Campbell, Tiffany Monroe, Alexandra Stephan and Priscilla Williams.
Previous goodwill tours have brought Eagles cheerleaders to Bosnia and Kosovo and they make regular appearances at military bases and veterans hospitals, a news release says. See a photo gallery here.
The cheerleaders wrote this blog post about their trip:
Hey Eagles Fans!
Greetings from Kuwait! IT’S HOT!!! We started our day with a morning rehearsal and then proceeded to the DFAC (dining facility) for lunch. At first, we were a little intimidated by all of the soldiers, but after a while they made us feel incredibly welcome. We even met a few Philly fans in there! Even with all of the Eagles fans we still hear “Go Dallas” and “Go Steelers”… even in Kuwait!
Throughout our experiences here, we are learning a lot of military protocol. We didn’t know that soldiers aren’t allowed to just come over and sit with us until invited, so we asked a few of them over to our table. During our conversations we heard their stories and pretty much told jokes the entire time. It was nice being able to joke around and just be able to take them away from their daily routine.
After lunch we met with the Colonel, who is also the Chief of Staff at our base. There we were informed of the Muslim culture, background of Kuwait, and the military bases. Our meeting with him was an eye-opening experience and extremely informative. We had no idea the United States has such a positive rapport with Kuwait. It is comforting to know that Kuwait encourages the US Military’s presence. Later on, the Colonel gave each of us individual Certificates of Appreciation and coined us “Honorary Soldiers” for volunteering our time to boost the morale of the servicemen and women of Kuwait. What better way to begin our tour?
We were scheduled for a performance at Camp Virginia, but due to a sandstorm it was canceled. That was a little disappointing but we held an extra autograph session for the soldiers. During that time it gave us an opportunity to learn more about the soldiers on a personal level. Camp Virginia is a transition base for those soldiers who are arriving and leaving. Most of the soldiers have families back home so it was nice to hear that they will finally be reunited.
After we were finished at Camp Virginia, our security detail took us on a tour of Camp Arifjan. He showed us the living quarters of the soldiers and recreation facilities. We met with a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army and we were able to get the female perspective. We heard her story of how she enlisted in the Military and wouldn’t change a single day.
Overall, it was an incredible first day. In the short time we’ve been here, it’s hard to grasp the fact that as much as we are here to thank these soldiers for everything they and their families are sacrificing for us, all they do is thank us for volunteering our time. It seems to be a two-way street, in other words, it’s a mutual appreciation.
Tomorrow we begin our journey to Iraq!
Amanda “Cop”, Krystle “Teach”, Priscilla “SS”, Tiffany “Jersey”, Janelle “Tippy Toes”, and Alex “Joker” (All nicknames given to us by our security team)
So how did you become a Raiderette?
I started dancing when I was very young. My mother enrolled me in classes at the local studio, where I trained from the time I was six until I graduated from high school in tap, ballet, jazz, and many other forms of dance. When I started college, I soon found that I missed dancing and found time to fit it into my schedule. I met a member of the dance team, who told me that they were still looking for additional team members and I decided to give it a try. It was my first exposure to dancing for sports teams, football, and basketball.
It was wonderful to combine my love of dance and my interest in sports. So when I graduated from college, I felt that I still wanted to pursue dance, and what better way than by auditioning for my favorite team, the Raiders! So I went to the open audition that is held every year, and the rest is history!
Tell me about some interesting experiences you had in that job.
As a lover of sports, of course, being on the field with some of today’s greatest football players including Jerry Rice and Brett Favre was thrilling. I was humbled to honor Raider legend Gene Upshaw upon his passing. Witnessing John Madden’s induction into the Football Hall of Fame was incredible. I was also able to travel to Mexico City twice with NFL Mexico, promoting American football in the country. I’ve traveled to Hawaii with the team every year to shoot our annual calendar and been featured in several beautiful photos in that calendar.
I have witnessed some incredible games, some heartbreaking games, sweltering games, raining games and moments that will live on in my memory forever. I’ve seen millions of smiles from fans, but the one that was most memorable was that of a make-a-wish child whose wish was to see a Raider football game. Not only was he able to attend the game, but he was on the field during pre game warm ups, and was able to meet two of the Raiderettes personally. I was lucky enough to be one of those two. The smile that beamed across his face that day was as bright as the California sunshine that shone down on us that day. I’d have to say that was the highlight of my career.
It says in your Raiderette bio that you went to Sac State. Are you from this area?
I was born and grew up in the Sacramento area. I attended Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, and am a Sacramento State Alumni. My father works at Folsom Prison and my mother is now retired from working for the state and living in El Dorado Hills. I really love the Sacramento area.
How did you end up in Steve Knight’s office?
I have worked previously for the legislature. While in college I worked for the Senate, as a security technician with the Sergeant-at-Arms office. After I graduated I was hired by the California District Attorneys Association as an executive administrative assistant. After three and a half years with that organization, I decided to make a move back into the building. With the addition of many new members in an election year, it was the perfect time to come back and luckily with the contacts I had made working in the building before, I was able to find my way into Assemblyman Knight’s office.
Why did you decide to give up being a Raiderette?
I spent four wonderful seasons with the team, and experienced so much. I made some of the most incredible friends and last year had the honor of being named a co-captain. But my life is here in Sacramento. After four years of consistent driving back and forth to the Bay Area 3-4 times a week, I knew my time with the squad was complete. I accomplished everything I wanted to achieve with the team and while my heart will always be with them, I know it is time to pass the torch on to other Raiderettes. When auditions were held in April, I did feel a pang of jealousy for those women who tried out and ultimately made the squad, but it passed quickly and I am very happy with where I am and what I have accomplished.
What’s your long-term career goal?
With my education and interest in criminal justice, public safety is a passion I would love to pursue. Legislation in that area highly appeals to me. Making the communities we live in safer for all citizens is very important to me. But beyond that, the most important career goal I have is to be a devoted and caring wife and have a happy, loving family.
Update: Alicia tells us she’s planning a September wedding!
By Bennie Scarton Jr.
July 5, 2009
When she was 3 years old, Crystal Boutselis began taking dance classes at Showcase Dance Studio in Manassas.
Now, 23 years later, she is running the studio.
In the intervening years she has had a remarkable dancing career.
Following graduation from Stonewall Jackson High School, Boutselis moved to New York City to train at Broadway Dance Center with top professionals in the dance industry.
After returning to Manassas, she performed four years professionally—three years as a Washington Red-skins cheerleader and one year as Washington Wizards dancer. She appeared twice in the Redskins cheer-leader calendar and has her own trading card.
While dancing with the two professional teams, Boutselis traveled around the world, performing in Kyr-gyzstan, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Africa, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras and China with Armed Forces Entertainment to boost morale of U.S. troops.
Retiring in 2008 from those sports teams, she began dancing with ‘The Capital Movement Pro-ject” in Washington to hone her jazz and hip-hop training.
“While I love performing in front of large crowds, my heart lies in teaching. I love choreographing routines for local school dance teams, as well as professional teams such as the Wizard Girls,” she said.
Boutselis’ love of dance led her to re-open Showcase Dance Studio as a tribute to the school that allowed her to dance in the professional arena.
“I want to make local residents proud of the dance talent in the community. For this reason, Show-case’s curriculum is based on style, technique and showmanship, which allows each student to excel in all genres of dance. Even more important, class sizes are small, permitting our instructors to focus on individualized instruction,” she said.
Showcase offers prestigious Royal Academy of Dance ballet, pointe and character classes, Broadway-style jazz and top classes, as well as jazz, hip-hop, musical theater, breakdancing and pom styles. Showcase is also a satellite studio for the Washington Redskins Junior Cheerleader program.
“I feel that by re-opening Showcase I’m giving back to the community of Manassas, where my love of dance was fostered,” she said.
She has been running the studio for the past year and recently held the first recital, with 115 students par-ticipating.
Boutselis trained with Carol Gil-Montero for 15 years, studying styles such as Broadway tap and jazz, theater ballet, pointe, pom, hip-hop and acrobatics. Gil-Montero had the first dance studio in Manassas, opening in 1972.
Boutselis was also a dance instructor for the Prince William County Public School System, serving two years as a captain for the Stonewall Jackson High School Raiderettes dance team and a year as captain of the freshmen cheerleading squad.
“Dancing is in my blood. I really enjoy what I do for a living,” said the 26-year-old dancer.
As a dance instructor, she now has students who start at 3 years old, as she did. She instructs adults and senior citizens as well.
Boutselis believes dancing classes can do a lot for an individual.
“Not only does it build self-confidence, but in my case it gave me the opportunity to travel around the world, which I could not have done otherwise,” she said.
One of her highlights was performing with the Washington Redskins cheerleaders in front of more than 90,000 spectators, along with forming lasting friendships and doing community charity work.
Boutselis will be busy this summer running dance camps. They begin today and run through Aug. 27 for ages 3 to 14 and include tap, ballet, jazz, pom, hip-hop and lyrical.
The studio is located at 8704 Rolling Road and the telephone number is 703-368-0555.
Sheena used to work in a French daycare center in Iqaluit, the capital of Canada’s newest and northernmost territory. One of the more unusual problems that she would encounter was having to keep the children inside because polar bears were roaming around outside. That’s just one stop on the wild (and romantic journey) that brought Sheena to the ice of Charlotte’s Time-Warner Arena as a member of the ECHL Charlotte Checkmates.
Sheena grew up in Canada’s Nova Scotia province and graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with degrees in French, Biology and Education.
She did an internship in the Bahamas working with dolphins, traveled to the frozen Arctic for the aforementioned daycare position, and worked at Sea World in Orlando as a Marine Information officer.
During her last week in Orlando, she was working the beluga whales exhibit, when a father and young daughter stopped to ask some questions. After an hour Sheena rotated to the polar bear exhibit and ran into the same father and daughter. This continued throughout the day with Sheena answering all their questions. At the end of the day he gave Sheena his card.
On her way back home, Sheena was flying out of Orlando and had two layover choices: Atlanta or Charlotte. She chose Charlotte and they met for coffee during her layover. She did the long distance relationship thing for about a year, then moved to Charlotte, got married, and now they’re one happy family.
Sheena now teaches middle school and high school French. And while she loves Charlotte, one day she was homesick for Canada. So she went to a Charlotte Checkers hockey game, where she saw the Checkers Dance Team, The Checkmates. Since she was young she had always enjoyed dancing and performing. So she talked to Director Brandii McCoy and learned more about the organization, attended a prep class and made the team this past August.
Checkmates Auditions are Saturday, August 15th.
The Florida Marlins Mermaids Summer Dance Camp is 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. July 13-16 at Bally Total Fitness in the Miller Square Shopping Center, 13838 SW 56th St., Miami.
Learn the latest dance moves from the Marlins Mermaids and Choreographer Jose Guerrero.The dance intensive camp is open to girls and boys, age 7-15.
Campers will perform their dance routine at a Marlins game on Friday, July 17 against the Phillies at Land Shark Stadium in Miami Gardens. They receive dance camp T-shirt and two tickets to the camp performance game.
Camp cost $200. Go to marlins.com or call 305-626-7334. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Tokay High cheerleader earns spot on the Raiderettes
By Joelle Milholm
Since she was a little girl, Amanda Mason has loved doing two things — dancing and being a football fan.
Now she is taking both of her passions to the next level.
The former Tokay High dancer and cheerleader recently earned a spot on the Raiderettes, the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleading team.
Mason started dancing when she was 7 years old. After graduating from Tokay High, she was a member of the Stockton Lightning’s football dance team, the Shockwave, for two years and was even the captain in her second. Now, being part of the Raiderettes is a dream come true.
“I love football. I would say that just as much as I grew up with dance, I grew up with football,” she said. “I have always liked the Raiders. They are a great organization. They have come a long way and it is really great to be a part of it.”
Mason is one of two former Tiger dancers who are now professionals. Tokay graduate Lindsey DuPriest is entering her second year with the San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders — the Gold Rush. Last season DuPriest was named the squad’s Rookie of the Year. Jeanie Jones, the cheer advisor at Tokay High, coached Mason and DuPriest and said she is proud of both. She’s excited Mason is getting her chance to shine this season.
“I knew that Amanda really wanted to do it and she worked hard and she did it,” Jones said. “To see her achieve one of her goals is just amazing.”
Mason tried out for the squad in April. After a nerve-racking interview session, Mason cleared the first round of cuts. She then had two trainings to learn a routine before answering more questions in front of a panel of 12 judges. Then she was asked to perform the routine, all by herself, before the judges.
When the team was set, Mason was one 15 rookies selected to the 36-dancer squad. The new Raiderettes then flew to Hawaii for their 2010 Raiderette Calendar photo shoot. Different dancers had their swimsuit shoots at various locations around Kona on the island of Hawaii. After getting her makeup and hair done by the team’s “Glam Squad” Mason got in front of the camera with a white chapel in the background.
“It was so beautiful. It was breathtaking,” Mason said. “I don’t even know how to describe it. You felt so glamorous. It was just amazing.”
The Raiderettes then got to enjoy the rest of their Hawaiian vacation and really bonded as a team, according to Mason. She knew some of the women on the team before, but is enjoying getting to know everyone.
“I love meeting new people and these girls are amazing,” Mason said. “These are girls that are going to be your bridesmaids.”
Now the Raiderettes are practicing three days a week to prepare for the upcoming season. They are learning how to work together and memorizing all their routines. In addition to practices, Mason and her teammates keep busy with the appearances they make and the charity work they do in the community. They are also preparing for the Raider Nation Celebration on Aug. 8 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiderettes will participate in a meet-and-greet with fans and perform. Being a Raiderette is making for a busy summer for Mason.
“I am dedicating myself to the Raiderettes this summer because I have worked really hard to get here and I just want to give 110 percent,” she said.
This fall, Mason will continue to get her education at Sacramento State. She’s entering her junior year of studying pre-law. In the future she wants to go to law school and become a district attorney.
“I have high goals,” she said.
She’ll be juggling her school work with her Raiderette duties throughout the 2009-10 season. The Raiders open the year by hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a preseason game on Aug. 13. They begin the regular season on Sept. 14 when they host the San Diego Chargers.
Mason can’t wait to get out on the field at the Oakland Coliseum.
“I am really excited. I’m sure the nerves will kick in and it will be anxious excitement,” she said. “I know stepping on that field is going to be one of the most amazing things. Not many people get to do it and I love football and I think it is going to be breathtaking.”
July 4, 2009
You think we forgot, don’t ya? You think we swept it under the rug and didn’t care anymore, right? Well, you’re wrong. We’ve got your National Lacrosse League Girl of the Year right here but waited to ring in the Fourth of July here in America proper-like. We kinda like the way it worked out so without further delay, here’s Marie, a rookie dancer in the NLL who claimed the title after more than 120,000 votes were cast. Flip the page and check out what Marie has to say about her title and advice she gives aspiring dancers in our exclusive interview with the winner.
Marie outpolled Gina of the Boston Blazers by a count of 69,242 to 51,053. A fine turnout, no doubt. And there’s no doubt Marie has a ton of support among family, friends and fans. With that in mind, we caught up with Marie and captured some of her thoughts on the season, the contest and what being a dancer is all about. Check it.
1. So you’re the champ … what’s it mean for you?
Yes, I’m the champion, haha. Well, I’m in awe. I definitely did not think that I’d win because with every vote I put it, Gina jumped 10 votes, but I put half of my time and effort into voting and I conquered. Even though I am going to be the same Marie, being the Girl of the Week Champion means a lot to me. The girls on the team as well as the whole Wings Organization won’t view me as just an Angels Dancer, but as a girl who came into this season up for any challenge that was thrown at me. I do think I desereved to win. I attended every home game and almost every appearance that the Angels had. I put all of my time, effort, and soul into the dance team and I acknowledge every minute of it.
2. Did you hear a lot about this contest from family and friends?
The first time I heard about this contest was through our PR director. He sent out an e-mail to the team telling us all to sign up on NLL.com and try to get our name onto the Girls of the Week voting. After that had happened, I didn’t really know what to expect next. It was just one day I decided to visit the Insider and saw all of the other voting. After that, haha yeah, I heard about it every day, people telling me that they wanted me to win and that anyone up against me I shouldn’t even call competition because they stand no chance. If someone can whip out 69,000+ votes and take a 20,000 vote lead, then I guess they were right!
3. How did you spread the word about this and get people to vote?
Mainly by Facebook and MySpace. Everyday, I would post the link and tell people to vote for me, and they did. On Facebook though, I not only did that, but I also created a “Girl of the Week” group, which then I sent out updates about voting, posted the links to the polls and my articles. I had well over 100 of my friends join. As for MySpace, I had a little help with that, haha.
4. Was your first year with the Wings anything like you expected it would be?
I don’t really think people “expect” it to be like anything. I know that when I started, I went into the season with an open mind, not knowing what to expect. After the first game, I knew that my first season would be a thrill ride.
5. Coming back for a second year with the Wings?
Definitely! I plan on being a part of the Wings lacrosse and Angels Dance Team for at least another two years. After that since I’d be graduating college, hopefully a dance company.
6. What’s your advice to young, aspiring dancers out there?
Here’s advice that I heard years ago and it led me to where I am today, “Dance like noone is watching you!” You never know who may be out in the audience or stands and you could possibly land yourself a job.
7. Does winning this title call for any sort of special celebration, Philly style?
Haha … I never really thought about it. There may be a celebration, but who knows. Depends on my family and friends and if they want to go out. Maybe I’ll head to a club and have myself a good time.
8. Pat’s or Geno’s?
Pat’s all of the way!! Best philly cheesesteaks that ever existed!! GO PATS!
So there ya have it, fans. Marie, your National Lacrosse League Girl of the Year. Stay tuned later this summer as we kick off a summer edition of the contest that’ll help keep you occupied until we kick off Season No. 3 next winter.
Every year there are changes to the Redskins Cheerleaders uniform. Sometimes the change is subtle, not this year.
Good friend of the blog, Talmesha, who is less than a year away from earning her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, shows off the new skirt.
Here’s a second look at the skirt with rookie Ashley. The skirt is part of the “primary” uniform. The shorts are still around, but will be seen mostly at Cheerleader appearances.
For a reminder of what the shorts look like here are Jessica, Denise, Chelsea and Khlover.
Six-year veteran and engineer/defense contractor Heather sports another uniform you probably haven’t seen before. This is the Redskins Cheerleaders new game-day practice uniform.
More photos of the Redskins Cheerleaders at P-R-O here.
by Vicky Robson, Evening Chronicle
Jul 4 2009
CHEERLEADERS brought the American dream all the way to youngsters on Tyneside.
And it was “hands on hips, smiles on lips” for the pupils at Wingrove Primary School, in Fenham, Newcastle, when the team of elite professionals dropped in to fly their flag.
The six-strong squad from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team, in Florida, were in the city as part of a UK tour to promote the sport and rally fans.
They spent the morning playing games and showing some classic steps to dance pupils in Years 3 to 6, before showcasing their pom-pom power in two special routines.
The girls finished their visit with two performances and wowed the crowd of youngsters, all aged between seven and 11, with their traditional slogan shouting.
Buccaneer cheerleader, Anna Duncan, 23, said: “It’s been amazing. I love coming to the UK and it’s great to give the kids an opportunity to have some fun and teach them all about American football.
“We are here to promote the sport and the big game at Wembley in October and we are also the UK’s home team this year so it’s very exciting. It’s just wonderful to be here.”
The visit coincided with the school’s sports week where children had been taking part in a range of different activities, including cricket, cycling and street jam and Asian dancing.
Headteacher at Wingrove Primary School, on Hadrian Road, Denise Harland, said: “It’s a great opportunity to have the cheerleaders come into the school and show the children a different side of sport.
“These girls are very fit, articulate and fun, and it’s gives our children an idea of what sport can offer.
“They need to see and experience as broad a range of activities as possible and are very fortunate to have been part of the Buccaneers tour.”
The squad are touring the UK in a bid to drum up support and rally fans for the third National Football League game at Wembley Stadium, in London.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing as the UK’s home team against the New England Patriots, who are hosting the match in the new season which starts in September.
It will be the third regular season game played by the NFL in the country and has already sold more than 70,000 tickets.
NFL UK managing director, Alistair Kirkwood, said: “It’s great to see British kids enjoying any aspect of the American football experience. It all helps to develop an understanding and passion for the sport.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the New England Patriots game which takes place at Wembley Stadium, in London, on October 25.
For more information on the game, or cheerleading in the UK, visit www.NFLUK.com