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Woburn Woman Goes From Field to Studio

By Christine M. Quirk
The Beacon-Villager

There is a long-standing debate in the athletic community as to whether cheerleading is a sport or an activity. Cheerleaders will say there is nothing to discuss – the physical demands, specialized training and practicing involved makes participants athletes, not hobbyists. Tricia Marshall would go a step further and say not only are cheerleaders athletes, they are dancers, too.

“Dance plays a big role in any type of performance,” she said. “I think a lot of the professional cheerleaders are dancers. [The skills] are all stuff you learn at dance.”

Marshall is the owner of Miss Tricia’s Dance Studio in Maynard, and is a former New England Patriots Cheerleader. A native of Woburn, she has been dancing for more than three decades.

“My mother put me in dance when I was 3, and I always danced,” she said. “I always wanted to own my own dance studio. I used to make my friends at recess learn dances and perform.”

Marshall, now 38, first tried out to be a Patriots Cheerleader in 1995, and though she made it to the final round, she was not selected.

“But then I was hooked,” she said. “I tried out again in 1996 and made the team.”

Marshall was a Patriots Cheerleader for four seasons, from 1996 to 2000. Her first season, the team went to the Super Bowl.

“I was so excited to be on the ride,” she said. “They just kept winning, and then we went to the AFC championship, and we won!”

With the team, Marshall cheered at the 1997 Super Bowl in New Orleans, where the Patriots played the Green Bay Packers, and performed in the half-time show along with the new Blues Brothers Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi and John Goodman. The show also featured performances by ZZ Top and James Brown. In 1998, the cheerleaders appeared in the American Bowl in Mexico City with singer Ricky Martin, who was just then starting to build his career.

Though the cheerleading uniforms don’t appear to offer much protection against the winter weather, Marshall said it wasn’t really an issue.

“I used to stand outside, but we would have hand and feet warmers and keep dancing,” she said. “Yeah, it was cold, but it was so exciting I was never thinking, ‘Oh, I’m freezing, this is terrible.’”

From Foxboro Stadium, where the Patriots played in the late 90s, it was an easy jump to dancing full-time. Marshall left the team in 2000 to pursue her dream of owning a dance studio and has operated Miss Tricia’s Dance Studio for the last 10 years.

“I’d been teaching dance in college and wanted to share my love of dance with kids,” she said. “There’s so much I love about dance. It makes you feel good. It’s good exercise. I love performing – it’s an overall feeling.”

In addition, to annual performances, recitals and dance competitions, the studio participates in community events, such as the Relay for Life.

“I like the charitable part,” she said. “I like being part of the community.”

That was an aspect Marshall also enjoyed about being a Patriots cheerleader. Though the team cheered only at the home games and practiced twice a week, Marshall said they were busy most of the time.

“There were lots of promotional events for different charities,” she said. “I really liked that. … Cheerleading was more than performing, and dance is more than that too. It’s doing what you love to do, being active and being involved in the community.”

Marshall said her studio allows her to live her dream, and though she remembers her time with the Patriots fondly, she doesn’t aspire to be back on the field.

“I am more content to be in the background now and teaching the next Patriots cheerleaders,” she said.

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