Pats Cheerleader’s Pro Bowl Journal

Patriots.com
2/24/09

New England Patriots cheerleader Alyssa was the 2009 Patriots Pro Bowl cheerleader. Read her journal from the 2009 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii.

View Pro Bowl Photos >>

Hey Pats Fans!

I can’t believe we’re closing on a year since I last posted; what a whirlwind it’s been! I bet you think we are off vacationing since our beloved team did not make the playoffs (despite an incredible year), but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In addition to preparing for the auditions for next season, many of us have been traveling around the world to visit fans near and far.

I was personally blessed with the opportunity to represent the Pats Cheerleaders at the 2009 Pro Bowl at the beginning of this month. Pat Patriot, our team mascot, was also chosen to participate!

While this might sound like a vacation, there was actually so much to do in preparation. Immediately after arriving in beautiful Honolulu, 26 girls from across the league and approximately 10 mascots, met and began practices and promotions with the goal of performing as a team! It was clear that everyone “did their homework”, and we pulled it off quite well (if I say so myself).

For those of you that haven’t been to Hawaii, let me just say it is truly a paradise. This was my first trip there and I absolutely cannot wait to go back. Pat Patriot has actually been to the Pro Bowl four times, so he’s an old pro!! As this was also the last year that the ProBowl will take place in Hawaii, the people of Honolulu rolled out the red carpet for each of us. I hope to bring a little of this “Aloha Spirit” back to chilly Boston!

The week was jam packed with events, from visits to the Children’s Hospital and Schofield Barracks, to the Pro Bowl Block Party on Kalakaua Avenue at Waikiki Beach. One of my favorite events was Ohana (family) day, at Aloha stadium.

The Saturday before the big game families are invited to the stadium to watch the AFC and NFC teams practice, and there are tons of fun events for everyone. We got to perform, sign autographs for fans, and I even got to catch a pass from Kurt Warner! So cool!

Before I could blink it seemed like our trip had ended, but I knew I had so much more to look forward to. Though it was sad to part with my 25 new friends I was also excited to get home to see my teammates. I slept the entire flight home and arrived just early enough to attend our regular weekly practice! After catching up with everyone and running through some routines it was time for me to head home to…. REPACK?!?!

Be sure to visit the next link, where I will tell you all about our 2009 South America Armed Forces Entertainment Tour!!

Cheers,
Alyssa

Tips for hopeful 2009 Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader contestants

Get Your Eagle On!
Tips for hopeful 2009 Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader contestants

By Alyssa D’Egidio
NBCPhiladelphia.com
Feb 25, 2009

BCPhiladelphia.com intern, Alyssa D’Egidio, cheered for the Philadelphia Eagles during the 06′ and 07′ season. She will be providing tips for contestants on how to nail this year’s audition.

It has been almost three years since I had my first audition for the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleading Squad. Although a few years ago, memories of my first audition are still fresh in my mind as I think about stepping into the crowded room at Lincoln Financial Field.

For anyone who is planning to audition, this is the most intimidating part. Sprawled across the upper level of the stadium awaits nearly 500 girls who are primping, stretching and practicing dance moves while waiting to learn the routine. Seeing this will most likely raise your blood pressure but it is important to stay calm and rely on all the preparation you’ve put in prior to the open call.

As far as preparation goes, the most important thing to concentrate on is physical fitness and dance ability. At the open call audition contestants will be put into groups and walk into a room with a long table of judges. At this point, the judges are focusing on two main things: fitness and dance ability.

Focus: Fitness

With just a few weeks left until the March 28th auditions, it is important to start sculpting and toning your body. The judges are looking for toned stomachs, arms and legs. One thing they are not looking for is stick thin women. It is important to look healthy but fit.

Stephen Williamson, a trainer and owner of Body Blast at Weston Fitness has a few helpful tips for perfecting physiques in a short period of time.

“I think women trying out for the team are going to want to look aesthetically pleasing. The girls need to be able to move which is why an integration of strength training, plyometrics and cardio will be best for these women,” Stephen said.

Let’s break down what each of these consist of and how many times a week they should be done:

Strength Training is important for being able to push your own body weight. Exercises to do include lunges, leg presses and calf extensions. For toned arms and back muscles, push ups are great.

Cardio is also good for keeping your lungs in good condition. “Cheerleaders don’t need to run marathons therefore a combination of sprints and jogging at a pace will keep their lungs in good shape for their dance routines,” Stephen said.

Lastly, plyometric training is used for speed and agility. This training helps the neuromuscular system for quick steps and foot moves. This is great for dancing and picking up choreography quickly.

Stephen suggests doing a combination of these three. “A full body routine twice a week which is made up of half strength training and half plyometrics should do the trick,” Stephen said. “Cardio should be done two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes.”

Diet is also an important part of a cheerleader’s life, so sticking to a high fiber diet will help keep the pounds off. “Taking in a diet of 40 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent fat will energize the body and keep it slim,” Stephen said.

Focus: Dance

Once your physique is at its peek, the next goal is to get your dance moves down. At the audition, a short choreography routine will be taught, which contestants have about 20 minutes to learn and an hour to perfect. Obviously contestants can’t practice the dance until the day of the audition, but there are some ways to help make this part a lot easier.

Many college campus gyms offer dance classes from hip-hop to ballet. College students who are auditioning should try to go to at least three dance classes a week prior to the auditions. I did before I auditioned and it really helped me pick up the choreography much quicker. Try taking a hip hop or jazz class which is more the choreography style of the Eagles Cheerleading Squad.

Not a college student? Well, many dance classes are offered in the city and surrounding areas.

Society Hill Dance Academy and Koresh School of Dance in center city offer hip-hop classes for $15 to $20. Classes focus on cardio, movement training and choreography.

The Dancers Studio on Passyunk Avenue offers an hour long Wednesday night jazz/hip-hop class at 6:30 pm. A four-week session costs $15 and will give contestants four paid classes to work on their dance techniques. Call 215-271-6277 for more information.

If you are not sure what kind of dancing the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders do, then it would be helpful to watch last year’s Final Audition Webcast on the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders web site. Before I auditioned, I watched the previous year’s webcast which helped me get a feel for the style of dance the squad does.

Wedding Bells in the Future for Emily Kuchar

Former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Emily Kuchar and Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke are engaged.

Emily

From MLB.com

For 7 1/2 years, since high school at Apopka (Fla.) High, Greinke has been in a relationship with Emily Kuchar. She’s a bright, energetic former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, a dancer and a model, and Miss Daytona Beach USA 2008. Emily even has her own
Web site.

And now, at last, Zack and Emily are going to be married.

When?

“Sometime this offseason,” he said. “She tried to make it Oct. 10. I told her, ‘That’s probably not going to work out, Emily. You know how much trouble I could get in if you do that? Please push it back.'”

Clearly, in the world of Zack, that part of the calendar is marked “Playoffs.”

PCB Exclusive: An Interview With Stacie Gazonas, Owner of Zonas Designs

Stacie Gazonas has cheered for the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers and performed in the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl. In a Professional Cheerleader Blog exclusive, Stacie discusses her experiences as an NFL cheerleader and answers the question, “is there life after cheerleading?”

Early Dance Background

Stacie Gazonas grew up in Lenexa, Kansas about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City. She started taking dance classes at the young age of 3 and began designing leotards for her dance studio at age 13. After being crowned Miss Dance Heart America, Stacie went on to dance on a cruise ship at the age of 19, performing in Las Vegas style productions. She accepted a dance scholarship to the University of Arizona, but quickly realized that she didn’t need a degree in dance to perform in front of a live audience, and changed her major to fashion design, her second love.

Stacie

While in college, a friend suggested that she tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders, a squad that she made at the ripe old age of 18. It was the start of a long and distinguished career in professional cheerleading. Stacie has said that being a professional cheerleader has really shaped who she is today and has blessed her with the ability to combine her passion for dance and fashion design into a lifelong career.

PCB: Why did you become an NFL cheerleader?

SG: I became an NFL cheerleader because I really missed dancing when I was in college and my passion was always in performing, not necessarily in taking ballet classes. My dream came true when I stepped onto the field at Arrowhead stadium for the first time as a Chiefs cheerleader and performed before 80,000 people. I had chills up and down my spine.

My favorite part about cheerleading was the friendships I made on the squad and dancing in front of such a huge crowd. I loved every minute of it! It was all very glamorous too. At the age of 18, not a lot of women are able to have their hair and make up done for them or have a total makeover to really polish their look. The Chiefs cheerleaders always set a standard of being a classy cheerleading team and not to portray themselves like the many stereotypes of professional cheerleaders.

PCB: For many girls, tryouts can be daunting. Please tell us about your tryout experiences and what it was like to make the Charger Girls

SG: It was crazy! There were approximately 400 girls at tryouts and I believe there was a handful that had cheered for other NFL teams. I was so nervous and anxious…the waiting process almost killed me. In my case, I was in a different position than a lot of girls because I knew what it was like to be on an NFL team, so I knew exactly what I was going for and what I had to lose if I didn’t make it. I knew how my life was going to change if I made the squad and I missed it (professional cheerleading) so much I couldn’t wait to be on a team again.



PCB: How competitive was the audition process and what do you think led to your selection?

SG: The audition was very competitive. Some of these girls try out year after year and know the exact process. I made sure that I looked like a Charger Girl with my hair, make-up, fitness, and attire. I wanted the judges to look at me and say, “she looks like a Charger Girl”. I definitely think my dance ability helped me stand out, along with having the “NFL look”. I get nervous during interviews, so that was the area I felt weakest going into tryouts. As funny as it sounds, I would have rather done a solo in front of ten judges than have an interview.

PCB: As with many challenges in life, it is often preparation that is the key to success. How did you prepare for tryouts?

SG: I am not much of a “go to the gym girl”, so I told myself if I go everyday for a month then I can’t be too disappointed with how I looked at tryouts. I made sure my hair was long so I could flip it around and I had the perfect outfit to make a statement. Preparation and knowing what the judges are looking for is the key to any tryout or job interview. It also shows how much you care and want it!

PCB: I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t realize how involved it is to be a professional cheerleader. What can a person expect if they make the squad?

SG: We practiced Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm and on Saturdays. You also have, maybe, one or two promotions a week along with other events and junior Charger Girl programs. We do a lot of appearances throughout the San Diego area and even some international appearances. It is a lot of work, but it is so much fun to be able to get out into the community and meet the fans.

PCB: How many routines do you learn in a week?

SG: At the beginning of the season you learn the majority of your material, so it can be a lot at first. Then as the season starts you add a routine here and there. You always need to practice and make sure you stay on top of your routines!

PCB: What’s your game day schedule like?

SG: It’s crazy! Arrive at 7:30 am, have meetings, a full practice on the field, time to get ready, promotions in the parking lot and even a pregame routine on occasion…and that is all before the game even starts. It is such a long day, but I can’t tell you how excited I was to wake up and get Big Sunday started! Probably my favorite day of the week!

PCB: Life is complicated, particularly when balancing work, school and the obligations of being a professional cheerleader. Is it difficult to maintain all these responsibilities, be a cheerleader and maintain an active social life?

SG: It is definitely a balancing act when it comes to handling work, school, family, and cheerleading. A lot of the times, these organizations want women that have great careers or own their own companies, but then they expect you to be at an event in the middle of the day or take off work to go do a promo. You really have to be flexible and find a way to make it all work.

A lot of times you go…go…go…and the season flashes by because you were so busy. I would always tell the rookies to make sure to take in every moment because it is over so quickly and you never know if you will be back on the team the following year. I will say…it is all worth it!

PCB: I am sure that many of our readers have seen the CMT television series on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and are familiar with their emphasis on being physically fit and trim. Are there concerns regarding weight or body image in professional cheerleading?

SG: I definitely think you can have a healthy lifestyle as a professional cheerleader. You just need to balance it out. I do think sometimes women put a lot of pressure on themselves and get into bad situations or gain weight after tryouts. Everyone needs to work hard to stay fit and make sure and do it in a healthy way or it will come back to haunt them later. I make sure I work extra hard in practice because I do enjoy eating out and having French fries, calamari and pasta. I know those kind of foods would definitely catch up with me if I didn’t burn those extra calories.

PCB: Have you had any embarrassing moments you’d like to share with our readers?

SG: I have never had a wardrobe malfunction or fell on the field, but my last year on the team, every time we came to a stop after a transition, Alicia, now a Raiderette, would run into the back of me. And it would always crack me up when she tried to cover it up by acting as if she had to tell me something…lol…sorry Alicia!

PCB: So, what’s the best thing about being an NFL cheerleader?

SG: The friendships, hands down. I have made a handful of lifelong friends on this team and I am blessed everyday to have them in my life!

PCB: I’ve been attending Charger games for many years and from a fan’s perspective, I think the two most anticipated games of the season are the Halloween game and the Christmas game. It’s those sexy costumes and the blue velvet Christmas uniforms that the fans love. I am sure you have some interesting thoughts on the topic.


SG:
I loved dressing up for the Halloween game. It’s so much fun to show the crowd a different side of you. The Christmas game is always fun. The fans love the uniforms; however, the girls aren’t so fond of them. Maybe it’s because the uniforms are older than some of the girls.



PCB: Are there any special considerations when performing in these two outfits?

SG: You definitely have to make sure the Halloween costume you choose will stay on. We do not change choreography for this game, so making it work is the key. As for the Christmas uniforms, the girls usually eat a little more than usual before the game since our midriff is covered for once!

PCB: Some might say that they are too sexy and revealing. Your thoughts?

SG: All of the Halloween costumes are approved, so we never wear anything more revealing than our official uniform. We always try to stay family friendly and keep it sexy, but classy.

PCB: While in San Diego, you were a Line Captain for two years. For those of us that don’t know, what are the responsibilities of a Line Captain and how do they differ from that of being a cheerleader?

SG: A line captain is someone who is there for their whole team. They have to know the material inside and out and pay attention to the details in meetings, so they can answer any question at any time. It is a big responsibility and a little more weight on your shoulders, but I love helping out people, so it felt pretty natural for me to step into that position.

PCB: Now, turning to life after cheerleading. You have started your own fashion design company. Please tell us a little about your business and why you started Zonas Designs.

SG: I started my own company, Zonas Designs, officially in November of 2007. I did not originally plan to start one, but after producing uniforms and outfits for friends, demand for my designs grew. I had reached a point that I needed photos of my past uniforms posted somewhere for people to view and have a forum where they could contact me with their requests, so I created a website. Once the website was done, it only was natural to form a company.

Zonas Designs offers three different categories of clothing: dance/cheer attire, jersey attire for women, and swimsuits. Everything we produce is custom made to your specifications. We will help you choose a style, color, detail and then make it to your measurements. Each piece is a unique creation.

PCB: I read that you recently designed new uniforms for the Clippers Spirit. How did that come about and what was the process in custom designing a uniform for the Clippers Spirit?

SG: This season I had the honor of designing a hot outfit for the Clippers Spirit dance team. A lot of times, team directors will see my creations on girls that are auditioning and contact me about my designs and what I can do for them. And that was what happened in this case. A great friend of mine, Harmony, auditioned for her 4th year on the Clippers Spirit dance team wearing one of my designs. That outfit was amazing…it was made from a jersey, but totally reconstructed to get all the great details in the form of a small, sexy top. And that was the inspiration for the Clipper Spirit uniform.

Team directors will email me with their ideas and then I will create 4-6 design sketches. We will tweak the design until they are 100% satisfied with the concept. Then Zonas Designs will produce a sample for approval before proceeding with the final order.

PCB: I seem to recall that you designed some of the swimwear worn by the Charger Girls in their past swimsuit calendar.

SG: The swimwear that I make for calendars, such as the Charger Girls, Redskins, and Chiefs, are a little more detailed and unique than my line of ready to wear swimwear I sell to the public. I specifically design suits that represent the team’s overall image and make it sexy and flattering to get that perfect shot for the calendar.

PCB: Some swimwear is not meant to be worn while swimming and are more for lounging poolside. Are your designs functional as well? Can a girl wear them while swimming in the surf or jet skiing?

SG: My ready to wear swimwear line is definitely functional and has tie sides, neck and back to get the perfect fit and to ensure that you won’t lose anything while jet skiing! As for the calendar shoots, a lot of time the suits have strings or hardware that may not stay in place…so I always find out what my client wants before constructing and designing their suit.

PCB: Your Jersey line seems to be quite popular, certainly among the fans that saw you model one of them during the 2007 Halloween game against the Texans. How popular are these jersey with your customers.

SG: This is probably my #1 selling outfit, yet each is customized for the team, amount of detail and stones wanted. I believe I have made at least one for every team in the NFL!

PCB: Are they individually customized designs or can people purchase them ready to wear?

SG: The jerseys are all customized. Customers send me the jersey they would like to use, that way they get the color, player name and team that they want before customization begins. Then we cut it to specifications and add all the details that make it special and unique.

PCB: Personally, I think these jerseys would be hot sellers, but I can’t seem to find one anywhere. Where can people buy one?

SG: You just order it online at my website, ZonasDesigns.com. Jerseys can be completed in just one week due to our great turn around time. We just need the jersey and your measurements in order to get started.

PCB: Have you considered selling them at online at
the NFL Team stores or popular retail outlets?

SG: Yes, that’s definitely a future plan of mine. There are licensing issues and other legal aspects that I do not have in place yet…but I know they would sell out in a second!

PCB: I’ve seen photos of some veteran Charger Girls wearing your dance wear at tryouts. What makes your dance wear designs unique?

SG: I think I have a huge advantage when it comes to designing audition wear. As a former NFL cheerleader, I was in these girl’s shoes many times and know exactly what they want and what the judges want to see. I make sure the fit is flattering, comfortable and will compliment each girl’s skin color.

PCB: Many of our readers are young women who aspire to become professional cheerleaders. How important is it to wear the right dance wear when auditioning?

SG: If you feel great about what you are wearing and feel confident, it will definitely show on the outside and show through your audition. You want an outfit that will accentuate your strong body parts and a color that compliments your skin tone. Choosing the wrong color can definitely affect the whole mood the judges get from your audition. Zonas Designs works closely with our customers to recommend a style and color that will compliment their figure to maximize their chances of making their dance dreams come true.

PCB: Does more stylish and sexy dance wear really get the judges attention?

SG: Definitely…I know a lot of times the judges will refer to a girl as the “yellow top girl” or whatever particular color that girl was wearing. After seeing 400 girls, it is hard for them to remember names or numbers, but it’s much easier for them to remember individual girls by describing the outfits they wore.

PCB: Is it important to stand out in a good wa
y and does the right outfit make that happen?

SG: Most definitely. That is the number one way to catch a judge’s attention before they even see you dance or speak. First impressions always stick!

PCB: In closing, what does the future hold for you? Is there truly life after cheerleading?

SG: I am so happy with everything I have accomplished. I still have a lot I want to do in life and sometimes I think that I will cheer one more time…for whom, I am not sure. But I still have that itch and passion. The great thing about my job is that I am in contact with dancers and girls on teams, so I am still a part of that world. Even though I am not performing in the spotlight, my outfits definitely are!

PCB: And what advice do you have for those readers who want to become a professional cheerleader or business owner.

SG: I think you should follow your dreams. Sometimes I wake up and think how did I get here and then I realize something my Dad had instilled in me when I was young. He said to always believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything you want to in life.

Charger Girl Prep Class

Aspiring San Diego Charger Girls can get the inside scoop on tryouts by attending the team’s pre-audition workshop on March 15.

Chargers.com: This three-hour session will include a dance clinic, mock audition, audition tips, Q&A with the Charger Girls and information packet. You will meet the director and the 2008 Charger Girls who will provide you with insight on what it takes to become a San Diego Charger Girl!

The deadline for registration is Thursday, March 12. Click here for details.