WBAY.com: Former Packers Cheerleaders Reunite at Lambeau Field

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – A group that used to spend time on Lambeau Field’s sidelines returned to the place they used to call home.

Former Green Bay Packers cheerleaders from the 80’s reunited on Saturday to celebrate their time with the team.

The Packers haven’t had professional cheerleaders for nearly 30 years now. Instead, they have local college cheerleaders at the games.

The cheerleaders got to tour Lambeau and took photos. They finished the day with pom-poms in their hands, cheering on the glory days.

They say nothing was better than leading the best fans in the NFL in cheer.

“It feels really nice to kinda go back in time,” said former Packers cheerleader Barb Sauvey. “It’s good to see that everybody’s doing well, and catch up what they’re doing their lives right now. So it’s just fun to stay in touch and connect with them.”

“I love the Packers, first off,” said former Packers cheerleader Elizabeth McAuley. “And I love cheering. And I’m very enthusiastic when it comes to my team, so. I love the Packers.”

The group says while today’s collegiate cheerleaders do a great job, they would love to see professionals back on Lambeau’s sidelines. Right now, the Packers and Bears are the only NFL teams without pro cheerleaders.

Packers Cheerleaders hold reunion

2015 green bay reunion

Fox 11 News
September 14, 2015

GREEN BAY —

The Packers don’t have official cheerleaders but they once did…

Dozens of former Packers cheerleaders met up at Lambeau Saturday afternoon, nearly 30 years after the official squad was discontinued.

The group stood on the steps of the Oneida Nation gate for a photo opp — before heading to the official reunion.

The team talked about their fond memories of cheering on the Pack — and some say this gathering was long overdue.

“We’ve never had a reunion before and it’s about time. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this sooner. But it’s been 30 years since the Packers have had professional cheerleaders so here we are,” said Barb Sauvey, Packers Cheerleader ’83-85.

“I was one of very few NFL professional male cheerleaders,” Todd Vanden Heuvel Packers Cheerleader ’82-83. “I really did enjoy that time. I met a bunch of beautiful lovely ladies and I was able to stay connected with some over the last 30 years and because of today, I’m able to reconnect with a lot of other ones.”

They say social media has played a huge role in keeping them connected.

Currently — cheerleaders from St. Norbert College and UWGB are the unofficial cheerleaders of the Packers.

Throwback Thursday: Honoring the Green Bay Packers Cheerleaders Choreographer

Longtime area dance instructor Shirley Van (front center) will be honored at a tribute in Green Bay Saturday. Her body of work includes nine years working with Packers cheerleaders. / Submitted photo

Longtime Green Bay dance instructor Van to be honored at tribute

By Nathan Phelps
Green Bay Press Gazette
June 4, 2014

Thousands of people, including Green Bay Packers cheerleaders, have learned dance from veteran instructor Shirley Van for decades.

Now the 86-year-old is being honored for her work in the community. Her dance studio, Shirley Van’s Dance Studio, was founded in the 1950s and operates a location in Allouez and has plans to reopen a location on West Mason Street in Green Bay this summer.

“She’s one of those humble servants, not one who always needs a pat on the back for what she does or a standing ovation,” said Corrie Campbell, the business development manager for Shirley Van’s Studios. “It’s nice to be able to pay homage to her and at least give back a little bit to her for what she has done in the community.”

Among her local ties is a nine-year stint as a one of the founding choreographers and instructors with the Green Bay Packers cheerleaders in the 1970s and 1980s.

“She really kind of stepped it up a notch in terms of dance … and established a routine with them,” Campbell said. “She also had players in her classes at one time.”

Shirley Van and her husband, Frank Volm Jr., at a Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame display honoring her work with the Green Bay Packers cheerleaders in the 1970s and 1980s. Sumbitted photo

The team honored Van for her contributions last fall and are co-sponsoring part of Saturday’s tribute.

Van’s body of work includes the formation 40 years ago of the People’s Ballet Company, now the Dance Company, which puts on two major productions annually.

A graduate of St. Norbert College, Van spent six years as an instructor of dance and movement at the college and 16 years as the choreographer for St. Norbert College Music Theatre productions. She also worked with area schools, choreographing dozens of productions.

Van, who learned dance in Chicago, New York and California, considered a career as a professional dancer, but opted to teach.

“It is much more important to pass dance on to others and share what I know than to entertain,” Van said in a 1981 interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Van is also a co-founder of the Green Bay Chapter of Adventures in Movement in 1970, a program aimed at teaching dance to people with disabilities. That program is expected to be reintroduced at the revamped Green Bay studio later this year.

“She brought dance back here. She studied with some of the greatest masters in jazz dance and traditional ballet,” said Campbell, a former student. “When she brought that back here, it really raised the level of dance in the community.”

Van’s studio is a non-competitive studio and focuses on dance company productions.

“Many of our students have gone on to dance professionally, or semi-professionally, and if they haven’t … (students) have a great ability to carry themselves well in public and in public speaking,” Campbell said.

Van, who still teaches in the studio, is passing the torch and legacy of the business to many of her students.

“It’s a good time, but it’s a bittersweet time, too,” Campbell said. “She’s done so much for our community.”

Skirting the cheerleader issue in Green Bay

By Bob McGinn
The Journal Sentinel
Novmber 1, 2013

Green Bay — It has been almost 30 years since the Green Bay Packers outfitted an official cheerleading squad in contemporary attire and had its members support the team in games at Lambeau Field and Milwaukee County Stadium.

The Packers got out of the cheerleading business in January 1987 and have no intentions of getting back in.

Instead, management will continue the practice of using a total of 15 to 20 cheerleaders from nearby St. Norbert College and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay that has been in effect since the mid-1990s.

“Most of us feel the college cheerleaders fit with the image we want to project,” Packers President Mark Murphy said Friday. “It’s wholesome. I hear mostly good things about our cheerleaders from fans. I think they find it kind of quaint, to be honest.”

The collegiate cheerleaders dress in modest uniforms supplied by the Packers.

Green Bay is one of six franchises in the National Football League without an official squad. The cheerleading units for the other 26 teams often have been described as eye candy on the sidelines.

The Packers tried that to a degree in the early-to-mid 1980s after their Green Bay Sideliners were given more provocative garb, including go-go boots and short shorts.

“They were attractive,” said Bob Harlan, the club’s president before his retirement in 2007. “We dressed them not daringly, but they were fancier than the college cheerleaders, obviously. We did change their outfits as the seasons went along.

“We didn’t think we could compete with the Cowboys, but we thought we wanted to at least try to add some atmosphere. Our fans let us know they didn’t want us to be parading girls out there looking like the Dallas cheerleaders. And that was never our intention.”

It’s possible, according to Harlan, that the Packers still could have an official squad were it not for the internal bickering that led to disbandment of the Sideliners after the 1986 season.

“It might have been the type of program we might have kept in existence and maybe turned over to our marketing department,” Harlan said.

Shirley Van, the cheerleading director who ran a dance studio in Green Bay, and many team members came to be at each other’s throats.

“The relationship was getting worse by the day,” Harlan said. “It just was not worth keeping. So we finally just shut it down.”

At the same time, the front office deep-sixed the career of Packy Packer, who had a brief stint as the club’s official mascot.

In January 1989, Harlan and staffers met with three groups seeking approval to resurrect a cheerleading team. The Packers told them no, and it became a dead issue after that.

In an informal locker-room poll Friday, four players favored the status quo while three preferred a return to official cheerleaders.

“I think our fans are unique in that they don’t need a big circus atmosphere,” said tight end Ryan Taylor. “Because they’re football purists and enjoy the game as is.

“I don’t know that it would add anything. There are other teams that want to put on more of a show, I suppose, because they’re worried about selling tickets. There’s another team in our division that feels it has to put on a show.”

Taylor had to be referring to Minnesota because Chicago and Detroit don’t have cheerleaders.

Cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Micah Hyde plus defensive end Datone Jones enjoy game day as is in the NFL’s smallest city.

“I thought those were our pro cheerleaders, I really did,” Jones said. “When I’m out there I’m not really engaged with the cheerleaders. But I saw tradition and love the way the whole atmosphere is.”

On the other hand, some players think professional cheerleading would play well at Lambeau Field.

“I would definitely like to see it go down to five with Green Bay adding a team, yes,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I think it’d be great.

“Take the last home game, for example. They showed a couple cheese bikini-clad women in the stands and the fans went nuts. The ‘Bikini Girls’ in general, I don’t know if they’ve shown pictures of them yet on the Jumbotron, but they’re a big hit.

“I’m all for it. No offense to the (college) girls. They do a great job.”

Defensive end B.J. Raji said he was “shocked” upon arrival in 2009 to find out the Packers had no official cheerleading squad, something he regards as “synonymous with the game of football.”

Raji and tight end Andrew Quarless said a more sleek approach to cheerleading would only enhance the experience for fans.

“First of all, it would give some females job opportunities in the area,” said Quarless. “I think it would make it feel more NFL-like.

“Not to say that they don’t do a great job. They do, and they do it for nothing.”

The Packers began using cheerleaders from city high schools as early as 1931. Under Vince Lombardi, the Packers started their first official squad in the late 1950s, and the name went from Packerettes to Golden Girls, and then back to Packerettes.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys and general manager Tex Schramm debuted their cheerleaders in 1972. It brought sex appeal and jazz dancing to the sidelines, and shortly thereafter many teams began to follow suit.

Today, 10 of the 26 teams with cheerleaders have names for their squads, from “Jills” in Buffalo to “Saintsations” in New Orleans and “Sea Gals” in Seattle.

Murphy indicated that some teams benefit significantly from the allure of their cheerleaders by increased page hits on their web sites to sales of swimsuit and even lingerie calendars.

“Not to be critical of anybody,” said Murphy, “but you look at what some of the other teams do with their cheerleaders and I just don’t think we’d feel comfortable doing some of those things.

“I have heard complaints about our cheerleaders: ‘What do they bring? Why don’t we get modern cheerleaders? Look at all the other teams and how they use them.’

“But more (fans) say this really fits in our image in Green Bay and what we want to portray.”

SILENCED CHEERS

Five NFL teams besides the Green Bay Packers have no official cheerleading squads. All six teams are in cold-weather locations. The only dome team is Detroit. Cleveland, which joined the NFL in 1950, is the least tenured of the franchises.

CHICAGO: The Bears have no cheerleaders. In the late 1970s to early 1980s, they had a unit called the “Honey Bears.”

CLEVELAND: The Browns have no cheerleaders and new owner Jimmy Haslam is against ever having them. Owner Art Modell experimented with cheerleaders way back, but the cavernous size of old Cleveland Stadium and the extreme cold ended that.

“We had them one year,” Pat Modell, his wife, once said. “They looked crazy. It was ridiculous.”

In recent years the Browns tried high school cheerleaders but the practice was discontinued by Haslam.

DETROIT: The Lions had a traditional squad at Tiger Stadium in the 1960s, and then used different high school troupes during its stay at the Pontiac Silverdome from 1975-2001. They have had no cheerleaders at Ford Field.

NEW YORK GIANTS: Other than a brief trial in the early 1960s, the Giants haven’t had cheerleaders.

“Philosophically, we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans,” Giants co-owner John Mara told the New York Times in 2010.

He added: “Some teams are comfortable with not only having cheerleaders but selling cheerleader swimsuit calendars or, in a couple cases, lingerie calendars. It’s not something you’re going to see the Giants do. Not while I’m around, anyway.”

PITTSBURGH: Other than a four- or five-year period in the late 1950s when cheerleading squads from Robert Morris University appeared at games, the Steelers have not had cheerleaders.

Former Packers Cheerleader Against Bullying

Kaitlyn Collins is a former NFL Cheerleader for the Green Bay Packers, but apparently that’s not good enough for some people — namely, trolling fans of the rival Chicago Bears.

On Monday, the “Chicago Bears Fan” Facebook Page, which has more than 80,000 likes, uploaded the photo above with a caption reading: “Like if You Agree The Packers Have The Worst Cheerleaders In The NFL!”

The post has since been liked more than 3,400 times. It’s received more than 1,400 comments. Many of those comments denigrate Collins’ looks and make fun of her with ugly language. But more recently, the tenor has changed — Facebook users have lashed back against the preposterous post, attacking the poster and demanding it be taken down.

That change is due largely to a video Collins posted to YouTube on Wednesday. In the video she relates what happened in a powerful way — by silently holding up a series of written messages. She quotes hateful comments as well as supportive ones, and says she’s thankful to have family and friends who tell her she’s beautiful every day. But, she writes, “What about the people who don’t have that at home? What will happen when something like that happens to them?”

(Update the post has been taken down!)

Colfax grad finishes SUPER season with Packers

By Brett Hart
Dunn County News
February 2, 2011

heather-smith-feb-2011Just six teams in the National Football League compete each week without the support of professional cheerleaders. Two of those teams — the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers — will be facing off Sunday in Super Bowl XLV. Ironically, the league’s most anticipated and most prestigious game will take place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the most recognized NFL professional cheerleading squad.

Sunday’s showdown will be the first time in the Super Bowl’s 45 years that no cheerleaders will be taking to the sidelines. One of those cheerleaders not making the trip is 2010 Colfax High graduate Heather Smith, whose UW-Green Bay cheer squad doubles as the Packers’ official cheerleaders, although they are not employed by the team.

Thankful, honored

“That’s perfectly fine with us,” said Smith after being asked how she felt about being excluded from the nation’s biggest sporting event. “We have had the opportunity to cheer for them at every home game, and no matter where we are or what were are doing, we will continue to support the ‘Pack.’ We are very fortunate, being a college cheer team, to have the opportunity to cheer for an NFL team, and for that, I am so thankful and honored. I know that the Packers will go out and fight to bring the Super Bowl title back to Titletown USA!”

The last time the two teams met was Dec. 20, 2009, in Pittsburgh, game that ended in a 37-36 victory for the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers on a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Mike Wallace as time expired. For many, the expectations are for a similar game this time between two of the league’s most accomplished teams.

This is the Steelers’ eighth trip to Super Bowl, winning six of their first seven appearances. Green Bay was in the first two Super Bowls ever and are 3-for-4 in the title games race.

Beyond imagination

Smith has found her inaugural season as a collegiate cheerleader to be an eventful learning experience.

“I have learned to be more confident in myself,” said Smith. “When you’re out there in front of thousands of people, you really have to trust yourself and be confident that you will succeed… I’m doing stuff in college cheerleading that I never would have pictured myself ever doing.

“Believe it or not, cheer has taught me how to manage my time more wisely,” Smith noted. “Cheerleading in college is huge responsibility, and it is up to you to balance homework, classes, work, a social life and cheerleading. That can be rather complicating, but in the end, it makes you grow as a person.”

She added, “I have learned to have a great deal more respect for cheerleaders everywhere. The amount of time, we put into what we do is ridiculous, but so worth it in the end.”

So, although she won’t be joining her second team in Texas, Smith said, “I am still in love with cheerleading… Cheering for the Packers this year has been amazing. I never imagined when I made the squad this past year that the Packers would make it all the way and that just made it 10 times more exciting.

“The Packers are an amazing team and deserve their place at the Super Bowl,” Smith continued. “Now I’m proud to say that in the future, I can be like, ‘Yeah, I cheered for the Packers the year they went to Super Bowl 45!”

This is a bad weekend for NFL cheerleaders

By Tom Weir
USA Today
Jan 21, 2011

There has been much ado this week about three of the NFL’s oldest and most storied teams still being alive in the playoffs. But it also might be said that the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers are three of the NFL’s most stodgy teams, since they don’t have cheerleaders.

How can this be? Aren’t all football teams supposed to have cheerleaders? Isn’t there something in the rules about that?

At one time, all three of those teams had official cheerleading squads. For aficionados of high-kicking sideline crews, here’s why they went away:

Pittsburgh: The Steelers had their Steelerettes from 1961-1970, but shut them down when the team moved into Three Rivers Stadium. One could say they’ve been replaced the the Terrible Towel.

si-1960s-steelers

The women were recruited from Robert Morris University (then a JC), and had to have at least a 2.0 GPA. You can find some vintage photos at Steelerettes.com.

FanNation.com did a story on them awhile back, and had this quote from original Steelerette Eleanor Lineman Lewis: “The first year, we wore hard helmets as part of our uniform. We started to look more and more like wholesome cheerleaders as time went on.”

Chicago: The Honey Bears were in business from 1976-85, but were axed after the McCaskey family took the helm and decided cheerleaders didn’t fit the team’s rugged image.

honeybearssw

Some suggest the Honey Bears’ demise is why the Bears haven’t won a Super since 1985, but that chatter has never caught on the way the Cubs’ various curses have.

Their final performance was to Prince’s Baby, I’m a Star, when the ’85 Bears beat New England at the Super Bowl.

Green Bay: Technically, the Packers still have cheerleaders, but they’re an unofficial group of rotating loaners from either the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay or St. Norbert College.

FootballBabble.com says the Packers had cheerleaders as far back as 1931, recruited from high schools. Then hard-nosed Vince Lombardi, of all people, asked that a professional squad be organized. They were called the Golden Girls Cheerleaders, an apparent homage to Packer’s star Paul Hornung, who was known as “The Golden Boy.”

1986-packers-golden-girls_640

The Golden Girls were drawn from a dance studio, and included some national champions in baton twirling. They are in the Packers Hall of Fame, but the team did away with cheerleaders in 1988, after a TV station poll found fans were split 50-50 on whether they were needed.

SI Gallery Update

This week, Sports Illustrated features the Cowboys, Eagles, Cardinals, and Ravens Cheerleaders plus the Charger Girls, Buffalo Jills and the Jets Flight Crew. There’s also a bonus shot of a Packers Cheerleader. (Cheer squads from two local universities take turns performing a Packers home games.)

2009_si_dcc_2