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Photo of the Day – November 29


A Dallas Stars Ice Girl

Vikings Cheerleader Giana is 4th Runner-up at Miss Minnesota USA

Congrats to Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Giana who in her first attempt at Miss Minnesota USA finished as the 4th runner-up last night.





High-voltage Entertainment with the Raptors Dance Pak

By Deirdre Kelly
The Globe and Mail

Onto the brightly lit basketball court the 22 members of the Raptors Dance Pak shimmy into formation, shaking their miniskirts for 20,000 screaming fans crammed inside Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.

It’s early November, just three weeks into the season, and the home team is trying to bounce back from a two-game losing streak. After three quarters, the New York Knicks are proving an even match for the Raptors and the dancers are moving fast to hype up the crowd.


An NBA basketball game is the funhouse of the modern sporting world: For every stoppage in play, there’s a prize giveaway or a call for the crowd to get LOUD. The DJ fills nearly every silence with booming rock and hip hop. The Dance Pak is the pulsating human embodiment of that choreographed chaos.
The dancers’ two-minute bursts of dancing are the equivalent of an 800-metre run, done with a smile that belies the fitness, talent and dedication required to earn a coveted spot on the squad. (Photos by Mark Blinch for The Globe and Mail)

The dancers’ two-minute bursts of dancing are the equivalent of an 800-metre run, done with a smile that belies the fitness, talent and dedication required to earn a coveted spot on the squad. “We are a key element of the in-game entertainment and so all our performances need to be full of energy,” choreographer Amberley Waddell explains.

A Waterloo, Ont., native, Ms. Waddell started with the Dance Pak at 19. She learned first-hand that for dance to succeed on a 94-by-50-foot basketball court, it needs to be big, bold and bootilicious. No pom-poms, though, just bump-and-grind hip hop and big-kicks jazz dance.

New York choreographer Texie Waterman is credited with having created sports-stadium dance when he was recruited to generate explosive on-field routines for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in the 1970s. Ms. Waddell has taken that style and modernized it: The introduction of lunges and squats and the heightened emphasis on muscularity are moves she learned while performing with Beyoncé and Gladys Knight in Los Angeles, and Bette Midler in Las Vegas. Her 40 routines also focus on the little details, such as hand claps over the head, finger snaps and flicks of the wrist and hair.

Since auditions in July, the dancers have been meeting three times a week to prepare for 41 game performances.


Each routine is drilled into the pack in a downtown Toronto gym lined with mirrors that grow steamy during the three-hour practices. The dancers have been meeting there thrice weekly since passing the audition in July. Throughout the season (which runs from late October to mid-April – and that doesn’t include a playoff run), they will clock between 45 and 50 three-hour rehearsals to prepare for at least 41 game performances plus community appearances – this year, there is even a game in London. The sessions start with a 30-minute warm-up that includes planks, push-ups and ab-crunching sit-ups by the hundreds. The rest is given over to cardio training and figuring out how to dance in the round, a challenge to dancers used to facing front and trained to watch themselves in a mirror.

The talent needed to be a part of the Dance Pak isn’t lost on Kenny Pearl, a former dancer with the famed Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dance companies who was artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre in the 1980s. Now a senior dance faculty member at Ryerson University, Mr. Pearl has had several Dance Pak members in his classes. “Their bodies can take a beating with the short, high-voltage bursts of energy required of them,” he observes. That they can recover so quickly is another reason Mr. Pearl admires their work.

“I see the Dance Pak as a group of smart, talented, beautiful and powerful women,” says Tamara, a 23-year-old rookie, of why she desperately wanted to join. (Dance Pak members do not disclose their surnames so as to keep overzealous fans at bay.) She is a former competitive dancer who runs her own photography studio. “It is very empowering.”

Even off the court the dancers are tossing giveaways or clapping from the sidelines.

It is also highly remunerative, an attractive prospect for dancers who often make much less in their industry. The Dance Pak are employees of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that manages the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and are prohibited from disclosing their salaries. But “it’s one of the best and most rewarding dance contracts in the city,” says Kalina, an office worker by day who teaches at a dance studio on nights when not performing.

This season, there were 250 applicants and fewer than two dozen made the final cut. Even dancers from last season must reaudition.

“There’s so much talent present,” says Monique, a first-year member who trained as a ballerina. “You have this one opportunity to put it all on the floor for the judges to see or else that’s it, you’re cut.”


For this 24-year-old, the payoff is maintaining a strong connection to dance while engaged in other pursuits such as, say, pre-med studies at the University of Toronto, where Monique is doing a master’s degree in neuroscience.

Game days – usually a 7:30 p.m. start time – mean a 3:30 on-court rehearsal to work out line formations, which are especially important for crowds watching performances from the upper tiers of the ACC. Next, the dancers proceed to the dressing room to do hair and makeup. Then, it’s showtime.

There are 22 members in the group, who all auditioned from a field of 250 applicants. Even returning dancers must reaudition each season.

The dancers are on even when they are off the court: running into the stands, tossing giveaways, clapping from the sidelines when the ball is in play. Which is what they are doing right now. The Knicks are leading the Raptors by only a few points as the game enters its final minutes. Tensions in the arena run high. The dancers watch nervously on the edges.

They have divided themselves into two squads of 11 dancers in adjacent corridors leading to team dressing rooms. They clap rhythmically, and enthusiastically, urging the crowd to stand and clap along.

If the Raptors can overcome the deficit, the dancers will rush back onto the court to do a victory dance. But in the final seconds, the Knicks hit a succession of free throws and hang on to defeat the Raptors 111-109.

The crowd shuffles home disappointed. The team will regroup. The Dance Pak will strut their stuff at other games.

[Toronto Raptors Dance Pak]

Tennessee Titans Cheerleader Heather embraces all of Nashville’s possibilities

It has been a big year for Titans Cheerleader Heather

It has been a big year for Titans Cheerleader Heather

Put Titans Cheerleader Heather in a red swimsuit, and major things just happen. Like when she met her husband, country music artist Ryan Kinder, when they were lifeguards during the summer after their high school graduation. Heather says, “He always laughs when we tell people how we met, because he says I was the ‘worst life guard ever, but I sure did look good in that red swimsuit.'” And this season, Heather, while donning another red swimsuit, made the cover of the Titans Cheerleader Calendar. “The calendar is always one of the most favorite experiences of Titans Cheers,” Heather states. “Not every team has a calendar, and if they do the entire team isn’t guaranteed a picture. I love that our Director, Stacie, finds a way to include all of us. Having a picture in an NFL calendar four years in a row is such a privilege and sharing the cover with three amazing women this year is an honor.”

Well, UltimateCheerleaders is honored to feature Heather, and we will share more about this Birmingham, Alabama native, who is ensconced in Nashville’s entertainment sector, between her work, husband, and weekends at Nissan Stadium. We will learn what advice she gives people moving to Nashville trying to make it in the music industry, how being a Titans Cheerleader gave her a chance to cuddle a kangaroo, and Heather will share when she wishes she could throw yellow penalty flags in real life.

It has been an absolutely memorable fourth TTC season for Heather. In addition to being on the calendar cover, she went on two international trips, and Heather is in her first season as a line captain. “I knew from the beginning of my rookie season that I wanted to be a captain one day,” Heather says. “The workload has increased, but I love the challenge. I call myself the ‘rookie captain,’ since Julia, Jessi, and Anne have been in this role prior to this season. I spend a lot of time studying what they do to see what I can apply to my leadership style.”

Titans Cheerleaders 2016  Calendar cover

Titans Cheerleaders 2016 Calendar cover

And as line captain, what advice does Heather have for her rookies as they start their Titans Cheerleader career? “My key advice for a rookie is to soak up every minute,” Heather responds. “You will never get to relive the first time you ran on the field as an NFL Cheerleader. Also, pay attention to the vets and your captains. The atmosphere of game day is overwhelming. Look to the others so you don’t get lost!”

Heather was drawn to being part of the Titans Cheerleaders because two of her interests intersect right on the sidelines of Nissan Stadium. “I love football and performing, and I think it’s really important for an NFL cheerleader to have fun with both,” Heather shares. “Practices and game days are great excuses to hang out with my girlfriends and dance. My Titans sisters have quickly become some of my best friends and my Nashville family. The friendships play a major role in my return each year.”

Heather traveled to Australia with three other NFL cheerleaders for last season's Super Bowl

Heather traveled to Australia with three other NFL cheerleaders for last season’s Super Bowl

And Titans Cheer has taken Heather from one end of the globe to the other, from north of the border to south. Way, way south. “TTC has given me endless opportunities,” Heather says. “Each appearance and community event offers such a great experience, but my two trips probably hold the most memories. At the beginning of 2015, I traveled to Alice Springs, Australia, on behalf of Pro Tour Productions and Armed Forces Entertainment. Eight of us, three cheerleaders from other teams, two NFL players and one guide, traveled during the week of Super Bowl XLIX to visit the US military based in Alice Springs. We spent the entire week with the military members and their families. We went off-roading in the outback, visited a kangaroo sanctuary, taught a football/cheerleading clinic for the kids on base, and so much more. The experience was truly a blessing. We wrapped up the trip by watching the game, which aired live at 9 AM on Monday, with the families before heading back to the States.”

G'day mate!  Heather gets to hang out with a couple authentic Aussies

G’day mate! Heather gets to hang out with a couple authentic Aussies

International trip number two was when the Titans recently played an away game on Thursday Night Football, Heather and the three other Titans Cheerleaders were the toast of Ottawa, as they brought the game day experience to our neighbors to the north. “I traveled to Ottawa, Canada with Julia, Anne, Evony, and our director, Stacie,” Heather explains. “We were invited by NFL Canada to attend the sixth of eight ‘Thursday Night Football Kickoff Tour’ parties. The idea behind the event is to bring the NFL up close and personal to our Canadian fans. Since the Titans had a TNF away game, we were invited to watch our game with our Canadian fans. We opened the event with a five minute dance, signed posters and calendars, and one lucky guy won two tickets to Super Bowl 50! We were only in Ottawa for a couple of days, but we packed in a ton of activities. We saw Parliament, experienced the ByWard market, and visited the local news, radio stations, and two newspapers. The best part was that the city was already decorated for Christmas!”

Titans Cheerleaders visit morning news in Ottawa

Titans Cheerleaders visit morning news in Ottawa

Evony, Julia, Anne, and Heather seeing the sights of the capital city to the north

Evony, Julia, Anne, and Heather seeing the sights of the capital city to the north

When she is not cheering for Nashville’s Titans, she has another person to root for, her husband Ryan Kinder, who is moving ahead in Nashville’s music scene. “I am Ryan’s biggest cheerleader,” Heather says. “The industry isn’t easy, and he has worked so hard to get to where he is today. I’m so amazed by how his creative mind works, how his fingers seem to slide effortlessly up and down the guitar, and his smoothing voice.”

After Heather and Ryan met as lifeguards, they began dating two years later, when Heather was a junior at the University of Alabama. Heather says, “Ryan has a record deal with Warner Music Nashville and a publishing deal with Warner Chappell, so he writes all of his music. I’m a little biased, but I think all of his songs are the best ever.”

Are there songs Ryan sings that are very special to Heather because she inspired them? “Most of them are about broken hearts or break ups, so I hope those aren’t about me,” jokes Heather. “He is currently on radio tour promoting his new single ‘Tonight,’ and he’s touring with Jennifer Nettles as one of her openers. About a year ago he wrote a song for me, ‘Nothing But Time,’ which he plays on both current tours. He always jokes with the audience that the song is so obviously written about me since the first line of the chorus says, ‘I ain’t rich, I don’t have much.’”

Heather has a degree in Public Relations from Alabama, so she is a great resource for Ryan’s career. “I definitely think I can contribute to Ryan’s career because of my experience,” Heather says. “I understand the business side of his career, and I have a passion for brand awareness. I am constantly thinking about what we can do to grow his brand. Young adult females are his target audience, and as a member of that demographic I think that gives me the right to recommend what he wears!”

It seems like Heather and Ryan would seem to be special people to have spouses as performers. Heather is a favorite to many Nashville football fans, and Ryan travels for his career; two things many couples might struggle with. “Neither of us chose traditional careers, and I think that’s why we work,” explains Heather. “We understand and support each other’s lifestyles. When Ryan is on the road, he is the first and last person I think about and pray for each day. FaceTime and iMessages keep us close while he is traveling. When he is home we are very conscious of our time and make sure to spend as much of it together as possible. Our careers keep us busy as individuals, but we always put each other first.”

In addition to her personal connections to sports and entertainment, Heather’s day job is also in that realm. “I just celebrated my three-year anniversary with a business management firm headquartered on Nashville’s Music Row,” Heather says. “Many of the skills I garnered in school have contributed to my success as a full-time executive assistant to the CEO. While I do tend the typical assistant duties, I am also responsible for the firm’s marketing, community involvement and maintaining client relationships. Most importantly I am an extension of (the CEO) Lou and her vision for the staff and clients. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, and I have a lot of fun with my job.”

Heather during the 2014 season

Heather during the 2014 season

So Heather’s knowledge and expertise have been an important resource for those, like her TTC teammate Heidi, who are in Nashville to make their start in country music. Asked what advice Heather would give someone looking to move to Nashville and take a chance on the music scene, she replies, “Get involved! It really is all about whom you know in this town. There is so much talent in Nashville, and if you don’t get out and meet people, you will be overlooked. Writer Nights happen seven days a week. Make a point to attend as many as possible. We have the best musicians and artists in this city, so check out live shows. Watch and listen to see what you can take away to enhance your shows. Professional mixers take place almost every week. Attending these mixers allow you to meet managers, agents, attorneys, et cetera. If you’re in your 20’s and 30’s, I suggest checking out Young Entertainment Professionals (yepnashville.com) an organization for young professionals in the industry.”

Continue reading Tennessee Titans Cheerleader Heather embraces all of Nashville’s possibilities

Photo of the Day – November 27


A Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader

Meet Leslie Ann: Colts Cheerleader of the Week

From Colts.com


Hello, Colts Nation! My name is Leslie Ann and not only am I ready for a fun-filled Thanksgiving, but I am ecstatic to be your Cheerleader of the Week!

This is my first year as an Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader and all I have to say is “pinch me, I’m still dreaming”! This experience is not only a dream of mine, but it’s a blessing in disguise as well. I am constantly surrounded by ambitious, inspiring and talented women who are so encouraging week after week and day after day. I have always been a part of a team and let me just say, this is one of the best teams I have been a part of not only because of my amazing teammates but because of the loving and dedicated Colts fans and community. Indianapolis is such an amazing city that is constantly growing and I am so blessed to be a part of it.

Growing up I played numerous sports and even continued to do so in college at the wonderful Indiana State University, GO SYCAMORES! After college, I did not want to stop dancing so I took the next step, tried out for Colts Cheerleading and here I am, halfway through my Rookie season and loving every single second of it. Shortly after making the 2015-2016 squad, I graduated Indiana State, packed my bags (and two cats) and moved to Broad Ripple with 3 of my other amazing cheer sisters. I am also a trainer at our wonderful sponsor Core Pilates and Fitness and I absolutely love what I do; whipping people into shape and encouraging good health. Fitness is a huge part of my life that not only keeps me motivated and working hard but it makes my dance career that much easier on my body which I will be thankful for in years to come.

I would love to thank my huge, supportive family for always believing in me and encouraging me to follow my dreams as well as the amazing Sullivan County for always showing hometown love! I would also love to thank all of my past sports coaches for pushing me, especially Indiana State’s very own Tammy Schaffer. Thank you Tammy for believing in this dream of mine and being there not only as a coach but a wonderful friend, mentor and for always having my back when I needed help. Last but certainly not least, I would love to thank the Colts Organization, Colts fans, sponsors and my Colts Cheer Sisters as well as Coach Kelly; I have felt so much love and support from all of you in this season and I want you to know how deeply appreciated you all are!

You were the last cheerleader to shoot for the Colts Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar! What was going through your mind at this time?

First off, I was in paradise in the amazing Cancun, Mexico so it was a comfortable environment to relax in, especially since hot weather is my favorite. Secondly, I was very nervous because it was my first time out of the country and first time doing a swimsuit shoot! Although I could not dive right in to all of the wonderful desserts our resort had to offer, my cheer sisters gave me great advice as well as Matt Bowen and the entire staff; they all made me feel very in my element and made the shoot a fun experience! I was anxious at first but was happy to hear those words, “It’s a Wrap”!

You’re obsessed with older houses. What about them do you love most?

Yes! I grew up and was raised in an old farm house that was built in the late 1800’s. It’s one of those houses that first had horse hair as insulation and if the pool, washer, dryer and AC was all running then it would blow a fuse and we would have to run down to the local hardware store to buy more for the power to turn back on. My mom has a huge influence on my love for older houses; we would always take bike rides and trips even to old historical houses and I fell in love with the architecture, old stair cases, the history/stories of who lived there and even the smell of older houses. History was my favorite subject growing up and I can definitely tell you I will reside in a colonial house that has an intriguing history behind it.

As a rookie, what has been the highlight of your professional NFL cheerleading career thus far?

I would have to say every single second I am with my teammates or wearing my uniform. When you work really hard for something that has been a goal of yours for a long time, you learn to be thankful for every part of it when you accomplish that goal. Every practice my teammates are so encouraging and positive, the outreaches and appearances make me feel like a super hero when I see a fan’s face light up over an autograph or picture; on game day, from the tunnel, to the whole crowd singing the National Anthem, and from performing in front of thousands, to praying after the game with my team, win or lose. I am trying to bottle up as much as possible so I can remember the memories not only this year but in many years to come.

How do you plan on spending your Thanksgiving holiday this week? Black Friday Shopping? Cooking with your family?

I plan on spending as much time as possible with my family, friends, dogs and cats back home. Every year since I can remember, my family goes to Bloomington to spend Thanksgiving with my grandparents as well as my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I have a huge family so I plan on it being loud, crazy and tons of food! As for Black Friday Shopping, I have never been and I am not sure I ever want to endure the crazy crowds. I typically don’t like to shop anyways, so this girl will be curled up on the couch with some hot cocoa doing some online shopping if need be. And of course I cook with my family! I’d like to think my family has the best cooks around because I never leave hungry or unsatisfied, plus there are always left overs! My mom and myself will be making our traditional pumpkin roll which is probably my favorite holiday dessert.

My oddest Thanksgiving family tradition is…

Besides eating until I can no longer breathe, I have two odd Thanksgiving family traditions. As I already said, my family all meets at my grandparents’ house in Bloomington where their backyard starts out with their huge deck on stilts wandering into the woods. Every year myself, my brothers, cousins and now my niece and nephew look outside at dusk and try and spot the “reindeer”. We love Christmas so we try and spot Santa’s reindeer a little early. My grandparents always leave out salt blocks and shucked corn so it never fails. Even a couple of squirrels and raccoon hop in on the insanity. The second tradition is all of the grandkids and great grandkids fighting over who gets to pull a part the wish bone! Of course, out of the lucky two who are chosen, the one who pulls the bigger piece of the wishbone gets to make a wish and basically wins bragging rights for the rest of the year!

Photo of the Day – November 26


An Arizona Rattlers Sidewinder

Gronk Galpal Camille Kostek a Star in Her Own Right

By Erica Corsano
The Boston Herald


Camille Kostek is a familiar, beautiful face — a former Patriots cheerleader on the 2013-14 roster, she roused fans and players with her spirited moves. The ambassador of Rhode Island-based lifestyle brand BENRUS can also be seen out and about with Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski. And at only 23, the communications major from Eastern Connecticut State University is mulling a career as a TV host.

We caught up with Kostek for our exclusive Boston Herald/BENRUS fall fashion shoot to dish about fashion, game-day routines, 
favorite dishes and more.

You’re obviously a big football fan. When you host friends and family on game day, do you have any special dishes you like to serve?

I’ll mix an avocado with mild salsa and make a homemade guacamole and serve it with chips. That’s my go-to.

I’ve heard that football is your religion. When you are watching the games at home, who do you watch them with?

I have always been a Pat-riots fan, but even more than rooting for the Patriots, I would always try to watch the cheerleaders and the airtime they do get. Any Sunday, when I wasn’t at home, I was looking for that Sunday Fun-day spot to kick back and watch the game or to kick back and watch the game with my family or with the girls. … I try to get to as many games as possible.

Is there a favorite cocktail you like to drink or serve on game day?

You are going to laugh at this … I am very much like my mom. … She doesn’t drink, I don’t drink. It became super handy when it was time to make the squad because Thursday night practice was the equivalent to Thirsty Thursday … so it wasn’t tough for me to switch over to that lifestyle of going to sleep early and waking up being ready for practice.

I bring water with lemon with me everywhere! That might sound so lame, but if I’m going to be honest, that’s all I drink! It’s a running joke here, when I meet friends from work for happy hour, they have a water with lemon waiting for me.

Do you still keep in touch with your fellow cheerleaders from your Patriots days?

Oh my gosh, yes. I never had Greek life at my school, so I kind of say that they are like my sorority sisters. It’s a blood, sweat and tears thing with the team … late hours of practice, early mornings getting ready for games … you just create this incredible bond.

Now that you are not a cheerleader, how do you keep in shape?

I am a fitness instructor at a studio called Modern Barre. I teach signature barre and cardio barre, where we do five straight-through dance exercises, which reminds me so much of being back in the cheer house performing. … It’s really fun. Other than that, I’m in the gym just about every other day and I work with a trainer.

Your career has gone in some pretty interesting directions. You were a cheerleader, you’re a fitness 
instructor, a spokesperson, and I understand you want to get into TV?

If you were to ask me what my dream job is, it would be to be Giuliana Rancic. I was our university news anchor in college which was strict news, which I love … but I think what matches my personality is talking about fashion, and fitness and sports … and my everyday lifestyle. And it’s not strict teleprompter reading, you get to be yourself and it’s very interactive.

What are some of your favorite fall pieces, especially for game day?

I am such a beanie girl. I love football season not only for the love of the sport, but for the season it happens to fall under — I love wearing layers. Our waxed cotton jacket is probably one of my favorites. If I’m not wearing that, I’m wearing the leather rocker because I am a huge leather fan.

I am in love with our 
almond gold concorde sunglasses, which you can wear year-round.

So probably my favorite is pairing the waxed cotton jacket with a beanie and the concordes.

2015 NFL Regular Season Week 11 – The Chiefs vs. The Chargers: A K.C. Masterpiece

This past Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs came to town to battle the San Diego Chargers.  The game was originally scheduled to be a prime time affair, but it was “flexed” to a 1:05 pm kickoff to reflect the won loss records of both teams.

How was the contest?  It was a one sided affair with the visiting Chiefs dominating the host Chargers in all phases of the game.  It was perhaps, a wise choice for the NFL decision makers to move this game from a national prime time telecast to a more modest viewing audience as this game was a stinker through and through.

Final Score: Chiefs – 33, Chargers – 3

With the loss, the Chargers moved into a tie with the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns for the honor of being the worst team in the NFL.  At least the Chargers will get a high draft pick for this season’s efforts.

The only consolation for the die hard Charger fans in attendance…the hottest dance team in the NFL, your Charger Girls!










With the flexing of this game, a night game became a day game and the late November date posed some problems with the lighting.  As the game started, there was some direct sunlight which gave way to a mix of shade and spotty sunlight which was succeeded by direct shade with strong back lighting in the fourth quarter…all of which led to some inconsistent and challenging shooting conditions.  Geez, I would have preferred the consistent dim light of a prime time game to this and who knows, perhaps the Chargers would have played better at night.

Okay, enough misery. Let’s get on with the fun stuff and begin this week’s coverage with the Captains: Kayla, Tina, Tawnie, and Katelyn.





The Charger Girl of the Day honor goes to the cheerleader who game me the most memorable photos and it is somewhat of a rarity that a girl wins this award more than once in a season, but indeed we have a two time winner this week…introducing Delani…a two time Charger Girl of the Day.


Delani…she’s special.








Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 11 – The Chiefs vs. The Chargers: A K.C. Masterpiece

Photo of the Day – November 25


A Washington Redskins Cheerleader

Philadelphia Soulmates Finals

Thirty hopefuls for the 2016 Phialdelphia Soulmates took the stage at PARX Casino last Tuesday night for the squad’s final auditions.


Former Soulmates Maurisa, Julia, Danielle, Alyssa and Theresa









Kayia with Jackie peaking out from behind






Look for the new squad on the field in the spring.

[Soulmates Finals Gallery]

Texans Cheerleaders Celebrate The Troops

The Houston Chronicle has a fine slideshow of the Texans Cheerleaders from last Sunday’s game:


[Texans Cheerleaders at Chron.com]

Who Dat? A Third of Saints Cheerleaders from Mississippi

Donna Echols
The Clarion-Ledger

New Orleans is the home of the Saints, but nearly a third of the Saintsations — the cheer and team team for the NFL franchise — are from Mississippi. And these 11 women are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.


I am writing about them now, both it won’t be the last time. Another column is coming when I head to the Superdome to observe a day in the life of the Saintsations.

Kriste Lewis

Kriste Lewis, of Moss Point, joined the Saintsations at age 40. “It was always on my bucket list,” Lewis says. Diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease where cysts form on the kidneys, the prospect of kidney failure is very real. There is no cure and the only options are dialysis or a transplant. “A healthy kidney is the size of your fist; a PKD kidney can grow as large as an NFL football. Ironic for me don’t you think,” she says with a smile.

Being a Saintsation is an example of following a dream, says Lewis. “So many little girls need positive role models to show them you can accomplish many dreams in your lifetime. I can be a wife, mother, teacher, friend, and still do something I enjoy.”

Now 41, Lewis believes in redefining what a woman can do. She doesn’t let her age — or disease —define her.

“Eventually, I know my disease will catch up with me. But that doesn’t mean I’ll sit on the side of the road and wait for it,” she says. “I plan on making good choices so I can have as much time for making memories with the people I love. That’s what life is all about, those memories, and being a Saintsation is a part of that. And, I love the fact that my family, especially my guys, are having just as much fun as I am. The Saints organization and our director, Lesslee Fitzmorris, and her staff work to empower women; this experience is a blessing.”

Andre’El Brown

Andre’El Brown, of Hattiesburg, believes in living life to the fullest, too. “I love being able to show women and girls from Mississippi that they can follow their dreams.”

Brown also praised her teammates for their strength and support. “Being on this team gives you a sense of perseverance, hard work, dedication and responsibility.”

Sarah Bass

Sarah Bass, of Hattiesburg, didn’t make it to the Saintsations tryouts last year. On her way to the audition, she swerved off the road in the rain and totaled her car.

“Although this set me back a year, I decided not to let it affect my dream,” she says. With renewed determination, she made it to the next audition and secured a spot on the team.

“Everyone faces trials and tribulations in their lives. Some may be unpreventable, while others are consequences of choices; however, there is no path in the past that can affect one’s path for the future,” Bass says.

Elizabeth Kiehn

Elizabeth Kiehn, of Hattiesburg, smiles when she thinks of her road to the Saintsations. “I was a chubby little girl with big dreams wanting to be a professional dancer.”

The lesson? Never count yourself out, she advises. “Being a member of this team makes you a better person in life,” Kiehn says. “Lesslee is a strong, positive role model, and she takes pride in shaping the women on her team.”

Baily Davis

Bailey Davis, of Ellisville, has her own take on the power of the Saintsations. “Society tries to make women think we are competing against one another, but this team has shown me we are more powerful together.”

Brandy Jarvis

Brandy Jarvis, of Biloxi, offers a similar perspective. “This team is more about who you are inside your heart than your outward appearance.” She emphasizes the team’s community service projects and willingness to help others overcome adversity.

Her advice? “Don’t let others determine your destiny, and feel blessed not stressed.”

“I live by these words because throughout my life,” she says. “I’ve had people try to tear me down.”

Morgan Welsh

Morgan Welsh, of Jackson, started taking ballet at age 3 and also trained with Ballet Mississippi. She remembers being “one of those little girls, scrawny, big-eyed, and a tiny little thing who wanted to be something special.” The sisterhood she’s found within the Saintsations organization, she says, is what makes her feel special.

Welsh says her mother has a favorite quote that she’s applied to pursuing her dream: “Shoot for the moon, for if you fall, you fall among the stars.

“She made me believe that no goals were too high. I learned that you have to work hard and fight for what you want. You do not ever let someone tell you that you cannot achieve your dream,” she explains. “I’ve always heard that there is no shortcut to happiness, but maybe dancing on this team is one of them.”

Shelbie Suber

Shelbie Suber, of Ellisville, tried out for the Saintsations last year and didn’t make the team. She took the setback in stride and tried again. “I love the Saints, and I pushed myself to be the best I can be. Being on this team will help me accomplish that and stay motivated.”

Sarah Friday, of Ocean Springs, believes in perseverance, too. “If it is your dream, it doesn’t matter how many times they tell you ‘no’ or how many times you fall on your face. Keep going! It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up.”

Being a member of the Saintsations, says Friday, has inspired her to make healthier choices when it comes to her diet. Eating well and working out are two of the messages she reinforces when meeting with younger women. Finally, adds Friday, “I would not have the confidence, dedication, determination and patience I have without this team. They are the most wonderful women you will ever meet.”

Alexis Barbaresi

“Being a Saintsation has made me a better person,” says Alexis Barbaresi, of Hattiesburg. “The most exciting aspect of being on this team is knowing that I get to do what I love. Being a professional dancer is something I have dreamed of my whole life, and now it’s real.” Of goals and dreams, Barbaresi says, “Go for it! Listen to your heart, envision yourself pursuing your dreams, and work hard every single day until you have accomplished your heart’s deepest desires.”

There you have it, 11 outstanding reasons to be proud of these Saintsations for being role models and ambassadors for Mississippi. While they come from different backgrounds and have all struggled with the ups and downs life can throw their way, there’s one thing they all have in common. Tenacity.

So, when someone tells you that you can’t do something — or maybe it’s your own inner-voice sending that message — straighten your shoulders and reach for the stars and yell — Who Dat! Because “dat” will be you soaring to new heights.

Photo of the Day – November 24


Rachel embracing the rain at Dolphins versus Cowboys game on Sunday

Petition to Bring the Charlotte KnightinGals Back

The Charlotte Knight minor league baseball team recently made the decision to discontinue the popular Charlotte KnghinGals Dance Team. But fans have starteed an online petition to save team.




Go here to sign the petition to bring back the KnighinGals.

[KnightinGals Petition at Change.org]