By Matt TaylorCentral Coast Gosford Express Advocate
Alex Tsambos is a superhero of sorts. By day she is a mild-mannered accountant. But by night she trades her business suit and calculator for tights and pompoms as she spreads her wings in charge of an NRL cheerleading team.
“Cheerleading lets me get my creative side out after being at a desk and immersed in numbers during the day,” Ms Tsambos said.
This week the 28-year-old Umina Beach resident realised a dancing dream when she started as director of the Newcastle Knights’ cheerleading team.
“I’ve just had eight years cheerleading for the Manly Sea Eagles, and I’m definitely ready to step up now,” she said.
“I have always wanted to be a director of an NRL cheerleading team, and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Ms Tsambos, who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Newcastle’s Ourimbah campus about five years ago, said many cheerleaders in the NRL were degree-qualified women.
“We all tend to do cheerleading as a hobby. And this stigma of the girls getting into it to date footballers is rubbish,” she said.
“The girls do it to entertain the children and the families. We all love to perform, and it gives us a chance to be part of the NRL.” Asked what made a top-notch cheerleader, she said: “You have to train hard and a lot of it comes down to your personality.”
Her new role with the Knights, who finished with the wooden spoon in 2015, will see her work up to 20 hours a week on planning, choreography, uniforms, promotional work and game days.
Ms Tsambos is hoping her good friend Angela Nicotera, of the world-famous Dallas Cowboys NFL cheerleading team, will teach her Knights girls some new moves this year.
“Ang and I were cheerleaders together at Manly. The NRL will start introducing more of the American-style tumbling and acrobatics in the future, so she can hopefully help us with that.
“We are always looking to offer more great entertainment for the fans.”
The Miami Dolphins will host cheerleader auditions in Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Dolphins also will continue to host auditions in South Florida. The team will canvas Latin America in search of adding enthusiastic, charismatic and talented women to represent one of the most prestigious brands in the NFL.
“Miami is the gateway to Latin America and the Miami Dolphins are a global brand. We are excited to combine the beauty we have in South Florida with the ladies we meet in Latin America in hopes of forming a truly international squad,” said Miami Dolphins Senior Director of Entertainment & Brand Impact Dorie Grogan.
One of the most visible entertainment groups in all of professional sports, the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders have traveled to more than 30 countries on five continents over the past decade and continue to be an iconic and international face of NFL Cheerleaders. The cheerleaders are on the sidelines for all home games and are extremely active in the community; visiting schools and hospitals, as well as charity and corporate events.
Ladies at least 18 years old by May 1, 2016 and high school graduates by June 1, 2016 with a valid passport for travel are welcome to register for auditions. The following are the dates and locations for auditions:
March 3 – JW Marriott Copacabana – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 6 – Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel y Centro de Convenciones – Buenos Aires, Argentina March 12 – Universidad la Salle – Mexico City, Mexico April 2 – Four Points by Sheraton – Bogota, Colombia April 23 – Doctors Hospital Training Facility – South Florida
A select few ladies will make it to Final Auditions, scheduled for May 1 at Nova Southeastern University.
Selhurst Park is an unlikely home to the glitziest match-day experience in British football. It is the Premier League’s fourth-smallest stadium, a venerable 91 years old, but its tenants, Crystal Palace, are the only club in the country to have their own cheerleaders.
Stacey Greenhead, 23, is the Crystals’ head coach. South London born and bred, she joined the squad in 2013 after graduating from university with a degree in dance. “It’s great to have some pre-match and half-time entertainment,” Greenhead says. “I love the fact that we’re the only team with cheerleaders and we get a great response. That’s one thing we can pride ourselves on, that we definitely have the best fans in the Premier League.” (League One’s Leyton Orient once had the wonderfully-named Cheery-Os but the squad has since disbanded.)
Although cheerleading is seen as a traditionally female activity, the first organised cheerleaders in America were men – Ivy League students who whipped up the crowd before college games at universities such as Princeton in the 1870s. Women were not allowed to participate until the 1920s, and began to dominate cheerleading only during the Second World War.
It is technically a global sport in its own right now – the International Cheer Union has 104 member nations, including Great Britain – but while cheerleading is a regular feature of professional sporting events across the United States, it has never really caught on in British arenas. There was a half-hearted attempt to introduce it to football matches in the early 1990s. The Sky Strikers, who performed during broadcasts of Sky Sports’s Monday Night Football, lasted the 1992-1993 season before the idea – and squad – hit premature retirement.
The Crystals’ 21-woman team was formed nearly two decades later, in 2010. Some are professional dancers but others, such as 24-year-old Jay Slaughter, fell into it by chance. Slaughter, a midwife, had been a Crystal Palace season ticket holder for three years when she was invited along to audition for the Crystals last year. “I tweeted a picture of my dad and me in the crowd one day and the Crystal girls’ Twitter account followed me shortly after, sending me a message asking if I would be interested in auditioning,” she recalls.
She had taken lessons in ballet, tap and modern dance as a child but had given up dance once she got to college and began studying midwifery at Plymouth University. “It’s funny actually because normally at half-time we’d go inside and have a drink or a burger, so I hadn’t actually watched the Crystals much,” Slaughter says. “I assumed they’d all be professional dancers. Being part of the team for my first match was a surreal blur because it was so weird to be on the pitch watching the crowd rather than the other way around.”
As well as providing pre- and mid-match entertainment, the Crystals also venture out around the ground collecting for the club’s chosen charities.
“A lot of the dads want the kids to have a picture with us – then maybe get one themselves, too,” Georgia Krelle, a Crystal since 2012 says. “It’s lovely when the girls pay attention to us. We appreciate that even more.”
Krelle, 23, credits joining the Crystals with more than just adding to her fitness regime. “I had no confidence, growing up,” she says. “I was bullied at school and left with no GCSEs as a result. Being in the Crystals and being a part of this group has built up my confidence so much; I’m like a different person.” Now she also dances professionally.
The squad meets up to choreograph its routines on the Sunday before a home fixture (they are not allowed to perform at away games and when Palace reached the Championship play-off final with Watford in 2013, they were denied the chance to perform before the match at Wembley). The match-day ritual is always the same. “I get the girls in two to three hours before the game,” Greenhead says. “We get changed, get glam, and then go out around the ground interacting with the fans. After our group warm up, we get ready to go on to the pitch.”
The Crystals are free to go home once they have completed their half-time cameo. Slaughter, however, has a season ticket to make use of, even if it only gets used for half a game at a time. “If we’ve not got anything else on, I’ll jump back into my seat so I can watch the second half,” she says. Most of her seat neighbours don’t blink an eye, except to wonder why she always arrives so late. “We do wear quite heavy make-up and big hair though,” she says. “So I do get a few people looking at me going, ‘Well, she’s made a bit of an effort for the football.’”
I have seen a lot of changes at my friend and Galactic Dancers Coach Jasmin Felsenheim. The biggest change of all was Jasmin quit her job, in order to focus full-time on the Galactic Dancers. She is really brave, I thought. She has big plans in the future and her old office job didn’t fulfill her expectations. More about her plans next time.
Another change was the squad’s new uniforms. They made their debut at the European Basketball games in Leipzig and on the Supercup in Bamberg.
Just recently the Galactic Dancers returned from shooting the movie“All is Love” along with other German VIPs Hoku Ho, Heike Makatsch and Tom Beck. This romantic comedy is coming ato theaters in December 2014. Now it’s time for the audition…
Audition Galactic Dancers on 3rd May 2014 in Frankfurt at Main (Germany)
The Frankfurt Cheer Dance Team Galactic Dancers is starting casting for new talent on Saturday, the 3rd May 2014. Dance Team Director Jasmin Felsenheim is looking for the best and prettiest dancers for the upcoming summer basketball internationals. The Galactic Dancers are for the second time the official cheerleaders of the DBB ( German Basketball Federation ).
The target group are candidates who are looking for a new challenge in their young years. What we need are young women 18 years and older, who love to dance in front of the audience and like unique performances nationwide on high-profile events. Dancers and candidates of the Frankfurt team come from all surrounding regions, also non-domestic and English-speaking dancers are welcome. Whether corporate and sport events, trade fairs or other entertainment operations: to provide top performance in all events and to inspire viewers, the dance team will be about 30 young women train hard. And the old team has to prove themselves at audition every year.
The passionate cheerleaders for the Broncos rugby league football club are gearing up for another season of pompoms and high kicks with auditions set for next week in the face of cuts by teams in other states.
Cheer managing director Hollie Bloch said cheer in Queensland was still strong.
“We’re still out there, definitely,” she said. “It’s a part of the club and they have been around for a really long time … it contributes to the game and the atmosphere and it’s great performance opportunity for the girls.”
She said the commitment and ability as professional dancers helped the Brisbane squad members, who perform at every home game, rise above other states.
“From what I’ve seen in Queensland, cheer is definitely alive, really popular and upcoming.”
Next Sunday’s auditions are in the face of cuts in other state teams with Canterbury demoting their cheerleaders while the Canberra Raiders are reviewing the entertainment all together.
“What we’re looking for is a joy while they perform.”
Cheerleader Marina Shah said she started cheerleading last year after a background in dance and loved performing to the crowd.
“It has been really fun, everyone is so supportive,” she said.
“I think we have a really strong team and this year will be one of the best.”
Cheerleader Angela De Righetti was in last season’s squad and said she loved the bond between the squad members.
Auditions for the new Bronco’s squad will be held on Sunday morning at the Mad Dance Studios on Adelaide St.
NFL.com has a set of photos of the Vikings Cheerleaders (and football team) as they prepare for the weekend’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It looks like they’re making a big Minnesota-style impression in London town. Click here to check it out!
In Australia, the big sport is rugby. Their National Rugby League (NRL) is, I think the Down Under equivalent to the NFL. (Interesting factoid: Although it is Australia’s league, there is one team from New Zealand. Kind of like the Raptors are included in the NBA. Another interesting factoid: all of the teams are clustered along the Eastern perimeter of the country. They aren’t spread out over the whole of Australia. No clue why that is.)
There are 16 clubs in the league, and all but one have a cheer team. The one that doesn’t is the South Sydney Rabbitohs. They used to have cheerleaders, called the “Bunnies” (of course), but Russell Crowe put the kibosh on that when he got involved with the club’s leadership. Yes, that Russell Crowe. Not that we care about him.
Every year, each of the fifteen remaining teams nominates two cheerleaders for the “Big League Cheerleader of the Year.” Big League is, I gather, a major sport magazine. In the first round, voters decide which of the two reps from each team will compete against the other teams. Once they’ve narrowed it down to one cheerleader from each team, then they vote to select THE winnner. I think they do 2×2 matchups. The one who wins the whole shebang is named Cheerleader of the Year. I don’t know what all that entails. Maybe just bragging rights. But still, those are some pretty rad bragging rights. You can tell everyone that YOU are #1 out of the whole entire league.
We should try that here. Presenting the UltimateCheerleaders.com NFL Cheerleader of the Year…year…year…year (< --that's the impressive-sounding echo.) Come on, who wouldn’t want that title?
Sidebar: Big ups for The Pom Pom Paparazzi. This is a shout out that’s been on my to-do list for ages. The site is administered by a Hayley, a current member of the Manly Sea Eagles Sea Birds. She provides a birds-eye view (bad pun intended) of the world professional cheerleading in the National Rugby League. DO check it out. TODAY. [click here]
But back to the subject at hand. The NRL season is winding down (Finals start in August), and so it is also time to wrap up this year’s cheerleader vote. Unfortunately, you and I are furriners, so we don’t get to vote. Regardless, this is a good time to take a look at this year’s NRL cheerleader squads. Shall we?
Friday, 30th August 2013 Stechert Arena, Bamberg 19:30 Uhr Germany – Sweden
“We are happy about the cooperation with the Galactic Dancers for all country game locations. The cheer team we offer the guests will be a great show in all halls, “says Jens Bachmann – organizer of the DBB-Games.
Dance Team owner Jasmin Felsenheim is happy about the cooperation too and says, “Especially in Basketball the lot of timeouts are very exciting for us. We are giving full throttle during the games. After a requested break the details that matter. Frankfurts Dance Team – a total of 30 girls – train 2 – 3 times weekly. With added appearances in summer, the girls receive extra training.
Especially for the country games cheerleader uniforms have been made and clothe the cheerleaders in a suitably attired. Besides the black-red-golden outfits also the colors blue and orange of the DBB main sponsor ING DiBa.
In addition to the player trellis and the sideline action, the spectators can look forward to challenging choreographed dance routines in the time-outs. “We are proud to support the national team as cheerleaders,” says Jasmin.