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Dolphins Alumni Cheerleader Recalls Cheering During Undefeated Season

By Leslie Gray Streeter
Palm Beach Post

In the history of the National Football League, only one team – the 1972 Miami Dolphins – had a completely perfect season, undefeated from their opening game until their Super Bowl victory. Die-hard fan and Boca Raton native Teresa Vignau is one of the few people who can say they were on the field for the entire season.

But she didn’t actually tell anybody for almost 30 years.

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“With the feminist movement, I didn’t even let anyone know I was a Dolphins cheerleader until my 40s,” admits Vignau, now a retired teacher and Boynton Beach resident. “I was not really on the cheerleader wavelength. But when as I got older I realized how really special it was. It led to the Super Bowl. It didn’t get better than that!”

This Sunday, Vignau, 64, along with a few other Palm Beach County residents and former cheerleaders, will be there when the Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium as part of a celebration of those cheerleaders, “Past, Present and Future.”

“They used to do it every year, but now it’s every three years,” says the retired St. Andrews Academy drama teacher, who hearkens back to the Fins’ days at the Orange Bowl, where the cheerleaders had to buy pillows to go under their go-go boots lest the heels sink into the hot, hot AstroTurf. She’s participated nearly every year since the alumni have appeared since around 2000, because “I thought ‘I wanna do that! I wanna go on the field where Dan Marino walked!’”

Coming off a winning but non-championship 1971 season, the Dolphins held cheerleader tryouts at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where Vignau, then a student, says she decided it would be fun to “get season tickets for dancing. That seemed like a cool deal.” At the time, the team trained at St. Andrews, where her father was a teacher at the time, and where she eventually would work, so it seemed like a good idea.

So for a year, she got paid $15 a game, from the season opener until she found herself “flying on an old National Airlines 747, with the coaches’ wives and trainers” to the Super Bowl. In those days, the squad was “very collegiate in moves. “Now they have all these pelvic lifts,” she says. “They’re great athletes, fabulously talented dancers. I love that they’re so graceful. I just wish they’d wear a little more clothing.”

After that perfect season, Vignau realized that continuing as a cheerleader would be an incredible time commitment, and with school and a serious boyfriend who would become her husband, she thought ‘How do you do better than that?’”

Now she looks forward to getting with alumni cheerleaders, including locals like Angel Wrona of Lake Worth and Danielle O’Connell Murphy of Delray Beach. It’s become a great memory, she says, of her part of “an unbelievably cool thing. Not quite as cool as walking on the moon, but cool.”

The Miami Dolphins take on the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on CBS, featuring a performance by alumni Dolphins cheerleaders, current squadmembers and young dancers, some of whom are daughters of alumni members.

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