Ultimate Cheerleaders
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May 7, 2016

Brentwood Academy graduate Karli Whitson has had dreams of being a dancer ever since she first started high school, and the 21-year-old recently learned that she made the cut to be a Nashville Sounds dancer.

Whitson grew up dancing since the age of about three, hating it initially but finding a passion for it again around the 4th grade.

“I started competing around then and didn’t stop,” she said. “But once I graduated from high school, it was kind of the end of the competition scene.”

An exercise science major at Belmont University, Whitson began auditioning as a dancer for music videos and other roles in entertainment.

“Around the end of January I heard about auditions for the Sounds, so I auditioned and I got it,” she said. “I’m not the type of person to get very nervous at auditions, but honestly this was a little intimidating because it’s such a big thing.”

Whitson said the audition process included a one-minute dance routine to any song, and if a dancer made it past that round then they were brought back in on the same afternoon to learn a choreographed routine.

“They let us know about a month after that whether we made it or not,” Whitson said. “I did like a jazz, hip-hop routine for the first portion of the audition. That’s my speciality and what I grew up enjoying the most. A lot of other auditions just teach you a dance, and I feel really blessed that in this one they wanted to see our personalities and own style in addition.”

Whitson learned she made the team via email and in just a few weeks she was in rehearsals and learning new dances.

“We’re really always in game mode,” she said. “When there’s a game going on, we learn new dances during the innings. We are literally always working. It’s an amazing challenge.”

Whitson also played other sports in high school like softball, but said that when 9th grade hit and she continued dance she knew it was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

“At Belmont, my major allows me to learn about the body, understand it and study it,” she said. “I want to open my own dance studio one day so I can train girls how to understand and execute moves, understand the muscle systems you have to use to create those movements.”

Baseball season will end the first week of September, and Whitson will get back to her classes at Belmont.

“We will take a break which is nice because some of us go back to school or do other things,” she said. “Some of the girls on the team are with the Titans. A lot of us stay active. We’ll have to reaudition again in January or February.”

Whitson said her favorite thing about being a Sounds Dancer is that the team has been a strong support system.

“There are some of the best people in the business working for the Sounds,” she said. “One of the nicest things is having little kids come up to you and want to take their picture with you, it’s a humbling experience. We have 12 girls on the team and, in all honesty, it’s the best dynamic. There are different personalities and we all have different strong suits, and it’s really fun to pull that out of each other.”

Andrea D’Marco (Ocampo)2Florida Panthers Personality Andrea Ocampo D’Marco joins WWE NXT
By Jim Varsallone
Miami Herald
May 4, 2016

South Florida’s own Andrea D’Marco is a new ring announcer for WWE’s NXT.

For those who attended the NXT shows in March in Miami and West Palm Beach, you may recall Andrea working alongside NXT ring announcer Dasha Fuentes.

Andrea D’Marco is Andrea Ocampo, the former Florida Panthers In-Arena Host at the BB&T Center in (South Florida) Sunrise. A fan favorite, she also wore a few other hats while working with the NHL’s Panthers, including their Latin Market Manager and Reporter. Her work with the Panthers set the foundation for this WWE NXT opportunity.

“It wasn’t a one-stop shop situation,” Andrea said. “Jonny Greco, a producer for NXT, actually put the feelers out there to my old boss [Pete Soto] from the the Florida Panthers, the game presentation director, asking if he knew somebody — a Latina who could host — and see if he had any recommendations.”

Andrea OcampoSoto sure did

“He put my name into the hat,” she continued, “and that’s when everything started. Jonny Greco got a hold of me, and I put a video audition together and submitted that. Jonny called me, but unfortunately at the time I couldn’t make it to the [Performance Center in Orlando], because the Florida Panthers season was in full force.

“So I wasn’t able to do an in-person audition. Everything fell flat. Nothing happened. Then a couple of months later, I reached out to Jonny. We were speaking back-n-forth, and then I was told they were looking for the same position, and that’s when I definitely made it to the audition.”

While NXT made a South Florida trek in March, the Panthers competed on the road. So Andrea got her feet wet by working along side Fuentes at The Fieldhouse at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables and the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

“Thank goodness that I was a part of the NXT shows in South Florida,” she said, “and I was lucky that I got that opportunity to get a feel of the actual shows. The fact that it was in my hometown definitely made me feel a lot more comfortable, especially that I saw a lot of familiar faces in the audience.”

South Florida NXT fans — many also sports fans — welcomed her to this different genre of sport.

“It definitely wasn’t hockey,” she chuckled. “I knew I had so much to learn, but at the same time I knew I made the perfect decision. It was so much fun.”

Prior to joining WWE, the confident, lovely and inspiring talent discussed and showed (first-hand) her Panthers’ job duties which were aplenty. She noted Producer Alek Graupera, Samantha Lisowski, Viktor E and Stanley C. Panther were some who helped her elevate the fans’ in-arena experience throughout each Panthers’ home game.

Andrea was a Dolphins Cheerleader for three seasons (2001-2004).

Andrea was a Dolphins Cheerleader for three seasons (2001-2004).

A former NFL Miami Dolphins cheerleader, Andrea is a graduate of Western High School in (South Florida) Davie, where she was a Wildcats’ cheerleader.

“I grew up dancing and in the performance arts,” she said, “and then after high school, I auditioned for the Miami Dolphins [cheerleaders]. So cheerleading and dancing were always a huge, huge part of my life.”

Andrea attended Florida International University in Miami and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She is a professional salsa dancer and offers The Media Gypsy Blog. She also worked as the In-Stadium Host for NCAA Division I Florida Atlantic University football in Boca Raton and spent time as a travel host for Walt Disney World.

She loves fashion as evident by her elaborate wardrobe, and her favorite color is blue, which she will sometimes wear during events, when applicable. Fans see that, and now many more eyes will be on her and her attire in her new employment.

NXT, which grooms staff and talent for the WWE main roster, continues to develop, growing into its own hot pro wrestling brand, which is seen weekly — globally — on WWE Network. So it’s a very good time to be working for NXT.

“I want to be a better professional, and I want to be the best ring announcer that I can be,” she said. “I see that it’s a very dynamic opportunity with NXT, and I want to be an extension of the [NXT] team professionally and personally.”

Panthers loss, WWE’s gain

When the Florida Panthers were eliminated by the New York Islanders in a heartbreaker in overtime in Game 6 of the first round of the NHL Playoffs on Sunday, April 24, it didn’t take long for her to join her new team. She made her way to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando on Monday, April 25.

The Florida Panthers, her colleagues and fans said good-bye and thanked her via her Twitter, following that game. Some even noted they were WWE fans — sad she left the Panthers but happy she became a member of WWE, where they said they will continue to interact with her via social media.

And social media is something Andrea enjoys, especially when it involved interacting with fans before, during and after Panthers’ games.

She’ll enjoy it even more with a very active and expansive WWE social media following, making for a nice tag team with her and the WWE Universe.

Social media

Her Twitter handle: Andrea D’Marco – TV Host, Model, Actress

Her Twitter description (TV Host by day Ninja by night! WWE/NXT Host, Disney Travel Host, Public Speaker, Digital Content Creator, Media-Gypsy!)

For her Twitter click @AndreaDMarcoWWE

Empowering women

Andrea also speaks to young women, discussing business acumen, life challenges and goal setting.

“I have a love for teaching,” she said, “and it’s important to give back, which is why I like mentoring young girls.”

Read more here:

Lyndsey RaucherBy Adam Hargraves
Daily Hampshire Gazette
May 06, 2016

AMHERST — A Northampton native will share the Gillette Stadium field with the New England Patriots this fall.

After an arduous tryout process, Lyndsey Raucher was named to the New England Patriots cheerleading squad for the 2016 season.

“I cried,” Raucher said. “Tears of joy. It was something I never thought I could do.”

Raucher, who graduated from Northampton High School in 2014, is a member of the UMass dance team. She had a pair teammates try out and make the Patriots cheer squad in 2015 and decided to give it a shot for this season.

“They told me I would be good at it,” Raucher said. “I’ve wanted to dance for a professional sports team my whole life.”

On Sept. 18 when the Miami Dolphins visit Foxborough, Raucher will see her goal of being an NFL cheerleader become a reality.

“Performing in front of 70,000 people will be insanely exhilarating,” Raucher said. “The NFL is the goal. I can’t imagine what the home opener will be like. I hope I can rise to the occasion.”

The four-week tryout process started in early March with open auditions and concluded with a final audition and then boot camp. Out of the 420 participants only 33 were selected.

Following the lengthy tryout process, participants had one final test. Raucher had to select a song and choreograph a solo dance. With some help from her UMass teammates, Raucher performed to a Jennifer Lopez song featuring Pitbull called “Dance Again.”

“I knew I could make an impression on the judges but only if I nailed it,” Raucher said. “About 10 seconds into the music I got completely in my zone and had a lot of fun performing. Afterwards I was very excited with how it went and was hoping for the best.”

Raucher began her Patriots journey with an informational workshop. After that, she knew that she wanted to become a cheerleader for the Patriots.

“The whole environment seemed awesome,” Raucher said.

In addition to working home games, the Patriots cheering squad makes appearances on behalf of the organization.

“We are representatives of the franchise,” Raucher said. “We do juniors cheerleaders with little kids. We meet fans and go to fundraisers.”

The squad also has a rigorous practice schedule to go along with appearances.

Raucher started dancing at a young age before moving to competitive dancing at 10 years old. She wasn’t a cheerleader in high school, as her focus was dance and not stunting and tumbling. The Patriots cheerleading squad does do some cheering, but it is mostly a dance team similar to the UMass dance team.

“We are on the sidelines at football games with pompoms,” Raucher said of her UMass squad. “But we dance.”

The sophomore is a double major in communications and history. With multiple career aspirations, Raucher’s options could multiply working at Gillette Stadium.

“A lot of good people work for the Krafts,” Raucher said. “There are a lot of prestigious companies all intertwined with the Patriots. There are a lot of opportunities. It’s a great thing for your resume.”

2016 TTC selected
May 1, 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans selected their 2016 cheerleaders in front of a near capacity crowd Sunday evening at Wildhorse Saloon.

View Gallery: 2016 Titans Cheerleaders Final Auditions | 270 Photos

Video from 2016 Titans Cheerleaders Auditions

Titans Director of Cheerleaders called Sunday night’s competition, sponsored by Price’s Collision Centers, “extremely close” among the finalists.

“We had a really great pool of talent this year, and frankly, all 47 of our final candidates were well qualified to be Titans cheerleaders,” Kinder said.

The squad had been trimmed from nearly 200 to 47 ladies during preliminary auditions held last month at Nissan Stadium.

The finalists spent the last few weeks rehearsing, while undergoing formal business interviews with Kinder.

A panel of celebrity judges that included Dianna Williams (from the hit Lifetime series “Bring It”), singer/song writer Michael Tyler, WKRN’s Dawn Davenport, and award-winning producer Michael Knox helped narrow the field to 27 ladies on Sunday night.

The Titans cheerleaders will next conduct their own training camp later this off-season, photo shoots for their 2016-17 calendar and game prep for the upcoming season.


Abbey M. – Huntsville, AL
Andrea H. – Mobile, AL
Anne P. – New York, NY
Brandi H. – Nashville, TN
Brittani S. – Little Rock, AK
Brittni W. – Nashville, TN
Brenna O. – Nashville, TN
Bri B. – Houston, TX
Brooke G. – Lebanon, TN
Courtney B. – Oxford, MS
Elizabeth F. – Dickson, TN
Evony T. – Clarksville, TN
Hannah M. – Tuscaloosa, AL
Heidi W. – San Diego, CA
Jamie Lynn L. – Augusta, GA
Jennifer M. – Cincinnati, OH
Johnsie H. – Pleasant View, TN
Jocelyn W. – Detroit, MI
Kaitlin K. – Roanoke, VA
Kaylee M. – Chicago, IL
Kellee C. – Bristow, OK
Kelsey P. – Baltimore, MD
Kiara Y. – Birmingham, AL
Kristen S. – Houston, TX
Loren B. – Dayton, OH
Sheree H. – Florence, AL
Travona N. – Boston, MA
Thank you Max for this visual roster of the 2016 team!

The Los Angeles Rams have posted headshots of their 2016 cheerleaders. (I devoutly hope that this year we will also get to see some uniform shots online. They didn’t post them last year, so I’m hoping this year they will.)

This team of 28 comes with quite the resume. of the 28 member team, at least 22 have experience on other pro or semi-pro teams. Several of them on multiple teams. A few others came directly from college dance teams.

Let me show you what the Rams are working with this year:

2016 LAR rookie_Ally
Ally: former Cal State Fullerton dancer (college)

2016 LAR rookie_Amanda
Amanda: former Denver Broncos Cheerleader (NFL)

2016 LAR rookie_Andi
Andi: former Chivas USA Chiva Girl (MLS), Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer (NBA), and Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Ariel
Ariel: former Chivas USA Chiva Girl (MLS), Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer (NBA), Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA), and San Diego Charger Girl (NFL)

2016 LAR rookie_Aubrey
Aubrey: former Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Bianca
Bianca: former Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_BrandiR
Brandi R.: former Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader (NFL)

2016 LAR rookie_BrandiW
Brandi W: former Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Brittany
Brittany: former Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer (NBA) EIGHT seasons on the team – holy cow!

2016 LAR rookie_Chelsea
Chelsea: former Utah Jazz Dancer (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Cherise
Cherise: for San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush Cheerleader (NFL)

2016 LAR rookie_Jennifer
Jennifer: former Boston Celtics Dancer and Los Angeles Laker Girl (both NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Jojo
JoJo (Giordana): former University of Michigan dance team member (college)

2016 LAR rookie_Justene
Justine: former Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Linette
Linette: former Chivas USA Chiva Girl (MLS), and Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_MaCall
MaCall: former UCLA dance team member (college)

2016 LAR rookie_Mandi
Mandi: former Chivas USA Chiva Girl (MLS) and Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Melissa
Melissa: former Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer and Los Angeles Laker Girl (both NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Micki
Micki: former Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader (NFL)

2016 LAR rookie_Sammy
Sammy: former USC Trojan Dance Force member (college)

2016 LAR rookie_Sativa-Skye
Sativa-Skye: former Ontario Fury dancer (MASL)

2016 LAR rookie_Shardia
Shardia: former Charlotte Bobcats LadyCat (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Shelbie
Shelbie: former Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Stephanie2
Stephanie: former Anaheim Bolts dancer (MASL), Los Angeles Kings Crew member (NHL), and Ontario Fury dancer (MASL)

2016 LAR rookie_Valerie
Valerie: former Los Angeles Laker Girl (NBA)

2016 LAR rookie_Zandra
Zandra: former San Diego Sockers Socker Girl (MASL)

Note: photos above don’t include all of the ladies on the team. That does not mean that the ones not listed above aren’t awesome and talented, with a dance resume as long as my arm. It probably just means their background is centered on studio/industry dance as opposed to sports entertainment. It could also mean they just value their privacy online and it was harder to get info on them. There ain’t nothing wrong with that.

If I missed anyone’s major credits, let me know. I’m happy to edit this list. ~ sasha.

The Chicago Tribune has posted a collection of vintage photos of the Chicago HoneyBears, cheerleaders for the Chicago Bears. Oh how I love this vintage stuff. I used to think getting the Rams (and the Rams Cheerleaders) back in LA was a lost cause. But if that can happen, maybe one day the HoneyBears will be back. I really think that – aside from those insane collars – they could totally make those uniforms work today.

Click here to view the gallery

Officially called the Bears' Song and Dance Group, the 28 Honey Bears made their debut on July 25, 1977.

Officially called the Bears’ Song and Dance Group, the 28 Honey Bears made their debut on July 25, 1977.

The Honey Bears show off their new uniforms, modeled here by Patti DiAndrea, left, and Mary Kay Kriese, right, on Aug. 22, 1980.

The Honey Bears show off their new uniforms, modeled here by Patti DiAndrea, left, and Mary Kay Kriese, right, on Aug. 22, 1980.

Falcons 2016

Another year of AFC auditions is in the books. Final auditions took place on Wednesday night, and 36 ladies were selected for the team. 26 of those are veterans, so it was a tough year for rookies. Congratulations ladies!

[Video: 2016 Final Audition Highlights]

[Photos: 2016 Final Audition Highlights]

The Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, one of the classiest squads in the league, wrapped up their 2016 auditions with the selection of 42 dancers. As they head into preparations for the upcoming season, let’s take a look back into how they got there.

Open auditions were a crush. More than 100 dancers arrived at Winter Park on April 3, ready to strut their stuff for the judges. As usual, the candidates were the best dressed crew in the NFL. Many of the ladies showed out in fabulous purple, gold, black, and white designs from our friends The Line Up, which luckily for them, is locally based. The dancers went through several rounds of cuts, at and the end of it all, 60 were still in the running.

[Photo Gallery: 2016 MVC Open Call]

2016 MVC Open Call_19

2016 MVC Open Call_Qisa

2016 MVC Open Call_27

2016 MVC Open Call_26

2016 MVC Open Call_28

A couple of days later, the finalists participated in panel interviews and a photo shoot. During the shoot they posed in white outfits of their own choosing, which would be used for the finalist vote. They also posed in one of the newer MVC uniforms, the purple vest and shorts. Those photos would be used for the team announcement.

[Photo Gallery: Interviews and Photo Shoots]

2016 MVC Shoot_Jordan

2016 MVC Shoot_1

2016 MVC Interview_1

On the evening of April 10th, the finalists participated in a semi-final show, which was open to the public. The event included a pre-show, swimsuit strut, onstage interview, solo and group dances, and a post-show. That evening, director Tami also announced the top 10 scorers. Every year, the lady who fronts the cover the team’s calendar is of those the ladies with the ten (or so) highest scores, so doing well at auditions has other benefits besides making the team. The high scorers aren’t guaranteed to make the team, but it’s certainly a leg up!

2016 MVC Semis_preshow Kayla Saral Kayla

2016 MVC Semis_swim1

2016 MVC Semis_Interview2

2016 MVC Semis_Interview3

2016 MVC Semis_Interview4

2016 MVC Semis_dance_Chelsea2

2016 MVC Semis_dance_KaylaD

2016 MVC Semis_dance_8

2016 MVC Semis_dance_13

2016 MVC Semis_postshow_topten

2016 MVC Semis_postshow_finalists

The 2016 audition process wrapped up with the traditional finals show at Rotunda in the Mall of America. The candidates participated in a vigorous bootcamp to prepare for the show. On April 19, they took the stage in groups of four for the group dance, and each also had a chance to do a solo performance for almost two dozen judges. It was a jam packed audience, with admiring viewers watching from all four levels in the mall.

[Photo Gallery: Finals at the Mall of America]

LeahK Kelsey J Nao Anna

2016 Vikings Finals_1

2016 Vikings Finals_2

2016 Vikings Finals_3

It was an extremely competitive audition, and when the dust settled, 28 ladies were chosen for the dance team, and 14 chosen for the new ambassador group. Congratulations to those who made the team. Now the hard work really begins. We look forward to seeing more of you this year, starting with the Vikings annual draft party TONIGHT!

2015 Patriots_Hannah LeBeau (line capt)
April 26, 2016

AUBURN — A three-year veteran and line captain as a Patriots cheerleader, 22-year-old Hannah LeBeau is prepping for her final season with the squad while looking back on some amazing memories.

“We don’t travel to away games, but when the Patriots went to the Super Bowl we got to go and be a part of so many great things,” LeBeau said. “In Arizona (in 2015), it was about 80 percent Seahawks fans and only 20 percent Patriots fans, and the best appearance we had was an all-Patriots fans event.

“We walked in and they were so happy to see us — I have never felt more loved in a roomful of strangers,” she said.

“When Butler caught that interception, we were all amazed — nobody really knew who he was then,” she said, of Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler’s catch with seconds left in the game. “I knew that it was for real when I saw them switching out the confetti cannons, taking out the ones for Seattle and setting up the red ones for the Patriots.

“When they won and everyone was storming the field, our coach said we could, too. It was incredible,” LeBeau said.

LeBeau, the daughter of Laurie and Joseph LeBeau, lives in Auburn with her mother. She’s been dancing since she was 4 years old and trained at a dance school in Easthampton from the age of 12 through high school.

2015 Pats Action_Hannah “My mom drove me there every day, and I did my homework in the car,” she said.

She graduated from Auburn High School in 2011, and went on to get her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dean College in 2015.

She works as a brand ambassador for Quest Nutrition, a job she says gives her the flexibility to keep her commitments to the Patriots. And she choreographs competitive dance routines, most frequently for the Paula Zawalich Dance Academy in Worcester, where she is also a substitute teacher.

Unlike the players, the cheerleaders do not have an off-season. Auditions for the next year’s team start each year in February, with an all-day preliminary audition that begins the six-week process.

“You have to audition every year, and there are no guarantees,” LeBeau said. “But as veterans, you do get to skip the preliminaries.”

Cheerleaders are only permitted to be on the team for four years, although those years do not have to be consecutive.

“There are about 300 people at the preliminaries, and anyone can come,” LeBeau said. “There are three cuts that day, and if you make it through that, you are invited to the finals.”

The final audition consists of two group dances, one solo dance, walking in a bathing suit and an interview question from the panel of judges.

Candidates who pass final audition are invited to a two-week boot camp at Gillette Stadium, where they work on media training, fitness, and a lot of dancing.

“And after boot camp, the team is posted on the website,” LeBeau said.

2016 Pats Audition_Hannah This year’s squad has 33 members — 20 rookies and 13 veterans. As one of four line captains, LeBeau said she plans to help her new teammates and lead by example.

“This is the largest team yet,” LeBeau said. “Usually we are about 24, so it’s really four line captains and a team of rookies. There are a lot of things they will need to learn, and I will do my best to help them out along the way.”

Official team practices started last week; in the off-season the team practices for three hours on Tuesday and six hours on Saturday. “Once the season starts, we will practice for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

“I do my practicing in my kitchen, which is what I’ve done my whole life,” she said. “When I go to practice, I view that as my next performance, and I always make sure that I know what we have already learned, so that I can focus on what we are working on at practice.”

On game days, the cheerleading team gets to Gillette Stadium five hours before kickoff. “We spend two hours rehearsing and going over the dance and cheers we are going to do,” LeBeau said.

During the game, some of the cheerleaders will make appearances in the season ticket holders’ boxes and sign autographs.

As for the money, LeBeau said that the cheerleaders do not make the kind of money the players do.

“It’s a part-time job, with full-time commitment,” she said. “We get paid every time we work, whether it’s for appearances, practices or games, and I make a little more because I’m a line captain.

“When I first tried out, I didn’t even know we got paid,” she said. “I was just so excited to be doing it.”

As she enters her last year with the team, LeBeau said that she would like to stay on with the Kraft organization, perhaps in its human resources department.

And to all the young dancers who aspire to become a Patriots cheerleader one day, she has this advice:

“You’re going to hear a lot of no’s before you get that yes. And sometimes, it’s just not your year,” she said. “You have to trust the process.”

The judges have selected 87 ladies to participate in the final auditions for the 2016-17 Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. Click here to cast your vote for your top five to make the team!