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North Bergen resident dances in Super Bowl halftime show

by Art Schwartz
Hudson Reporter
February 23, 2014

More than 110 million viewers saw this year’s Super Bowl, making it the most watched television event in U.S. history. That means a lot of people saw 22-year-old North Bergen resident Ashley Marie Gonzalez, whether they know it or not.

“We were chosen to be a part of the Super Bowl halftime show,” said Gonzalez, who used to cheer at North Bergen High School and is now part of a dance team based in New York. “It was a great experience. We met a lot of people, we did a lot of events in New York and New Jersey, meeting players, doing signings.”

Ashley was on the field performing with some of her fellow Gotham City Cheerleaders. “We were on the platform on the left side of the stage, which was right where Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing,” she said. “Bruno Mars requested a group of girls who were dancers and were pretty. He wanted us dressed a certain way. We were there for the whole show. It was an amazing feeling to be there in front of thousands of people.”

The Gotham City Cheerleaders

“We’re based out of New York and we are the first dance team to cheer for the New York Giants,” said Gonzalez about the Gotham City Cheerleaders.

The three-year-old cheerleading team is not officially affiliated with the Giants, she explained. “We’re not signed by them but we do support them, we go to every home game and do tailgates and do promos. It’s a lot of fun.”

“The New York Giants are a traditional football team so they never had cheerleaders,” continued Gonzalez. “They’re one of six teams that didn’t have an official cheerleading team. My director, Ana [DeVillegas], she was a Redskins cheerleader and she lives in New York and it was her and a New Jersey Jets cheerleader, they founded it and built it. Every year it has grown and progressed. We have so many fans. We do a lot of charity events and gigs all over the city.”

“Since we’re not officially signed by the Giants we don’t get to perform on the field,” she said. “I can’t be on that field… but I was on the field for the Super Bowl!”

Cheering in North Bergen

Gonzalez has a strong background in her craft. “I’m 22 and I went to North Bergen High School,” she said. “I cheered all my years of high school and graduated in 2009. I grew up with my dad being my coach. I was a competitive gymnast so a lot of my experience comes from my background.” That experience included dancing during halftime shows for the Jets.

Moving to Florida to attend Miami International University, she auditioned for the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. “I danced for a semi-pro team in Florida, the West Palm Beach Makos,” she said. “I did a year with them, and then after college I moved back up here to New Jersey.”

“Every spring is when the NBA and NFL teams audition and I auditioned for several teams,” she continued. “And being as how I didn’t make certain teams I was freaking out as a dancer; what am I going to do? I Googled the Giants and found out about the Gotham City Cheerleaders and I auditioned and I made them. That was last May when I auditioned and I signed the contract from June to March.”

A bit of clarification is necessary here. “We are known as cheerleaders but in the professional world we don’t cheer as in lift each other and jump and tumble or stunt,” said Gonzalez. “We don’t shout cheers. As a professional cheerleader you’re more of a dancer. When you audition for a team they look for your dance background. They like a gymnastics background and I have that.”

“We’re actually dancing to music as opposed to cheerleading,” she explained. “We have choreographed routines and we have our pompoms. I get asked that all the time, even when we’re at promos they ask us to cheer and we tell them we don’t cheer but if you play music we’ll dance to it.”

The Super Bowl

When the Super Bowl gig came up, the coach and director of the team, Ana DeVillegas, selected about 20 cheerleaders to participate.

“It wasn’t my whole team that was part of the Super Bowl,” said Gonzalez. “My team itself, there’s about 25 of us, but my coach and my captain went to Japan in December and did an audition for Japanese girls who wanted to come dance in New York City. Whoever made the auditions was chosen to come out for Super Bowl week and they performed with us at our events. Most of those girls were the ones chosen for the Super Bowl, and a few of the girls who were already on the team. I was glad to be one of them. It was an even better feeling being one of the chosen girls.”

Onstage they were part of a much larger group selected to dance to the music. “There were over 900 of us as part of the halftime show so we weren’t dancing like our team performing. It wasn’t choreographed but we have these dances that we do, we call them snippets, just short little dance moves that we do as a team making us look in sync,” she said. “It was hard and there wasn’t much space for us since we were crammed on that stage. There wasn’t room to move the way we wanted to. But it was a lot of fun.”

Next (dance) steps

“Next I am going to prepare for a different audition,” said Gonzalez. “My contract is still going until March 15 so once that comes I’m free to go. I like to be a part of different teams because you learn different styles of dance from different coaches and different directors.”

“Right now is the down time until the next football season,” she said, “and I don’t want to not be dancing so I was just Googling and I found this team based out of Long Island, the Long Island Lizards, professional lacrosse, they have a professional dance team and they are a spring/summer team so I’m hopefully becoming a part of their team.”

“The best thing that could happen is definitely being part of a pro team where I am performing on the field for an entire season. That’s where I’m trying to get,” said Gonzalez. “What I’m trying to do right now is build my dancer resume.”

Monroe’s Jessica Irwin talks about life as a Sea Gal

By Polly Keary, Editor
Monroe Monitor
February 18, 2014

When Jessica Irwin first tried out to be a cheerleader, she did it as a gag.

She wasn’t the cheerleader type, she said. She was more the mosh-pit type, wearing the fan shirts of her favorite bands to school, and she considered herself a nerd.

But not only did the Monroe girl make the team, she cheered her way to a position with the Sea Gals. Two weeks ago she cheered at the Super Bowl, then rode in the victory parade that drew 700,000 to downtown Seattle.

It’s been a wild ride, but for the next few weeks she’s taking some time off at home in Monroe. Friday, Irwin took an hour to sit down and talk about all the last few years have brought.
Jessica Irwin of Monroe has been a Sea Gal for four years, and is now a team captain. She started out learning to dance at the age of 6 at Sky Valley Dance, and was a Bearcat cheerleader. Photo courtesy of Jessica Irwin

Becoming a Sea Gal

When Irwin tried out for the Bearcats cheer team as a high school student, she did have one advantage. Despite the fact that her musical tastes ran to hard rock, she had been studying at Sky Valley Dance since she was six.

“My mom just knew,” said Irwin, a friendly and articulate young woman who still seemed a little overwhelmed by all that has happened this football season.

By the time she was 15, she was a dance instructor.

And while she hadn’t taken cheer seriously at first, after doing it for a while, she realized she not only was good at it, she really liked it.

After graduating in 2008, Irwin went to the prestigious Cornish School of the Arts, where she studied dance and art.

Then, in 2010, she tried out for the Sea Gals.

The Sea Gals are believed to be one of the most intensely-trained squads in the NFL, and the audition process to get in certainly suggests it might be true.

“It’s a two-week process,” said Irwin. “It starts with preliminaries, and you turn on whatever music and dance freestyle.”

Of about 250 women, about half are invited to the semi-finals, where they are taught the steps to a dance.

“You come in the next day with it perfected,” she said. “You do it again, and they make the final cut.”

All that week, finalists are interviewed, and then the Friday before the finals, the cheerleaders are taught another dance, plus a kick-line routine, and expected to perfect them, as well as be ready to perform a solo.

“When you go to finals, there are 60 people left, and two at a time, you go up in front of the big lights and you answer a question and do your dance,” said Irwin.

Of the finalists, 33 are selected for the team. Irwin was one of them.

That was in April of 2010. When she learned she’d made the squad, Irwin’s life took a dramatic turn.

Being a Sea Gal

Football season is only four months long; five if the team makes the postseason, but Sea Gals, Irwin learned, train nearly all year long.

“We make the team in April, and then train and train and train,” said Irwin. “We only have two months off.”

Sea Gals only perform at home games, of which there are 10 in the regular season and as many as 13 if the team goes to the playoffs.

But there’s a lot more to being a Sea Gal than performing at games.

Some Sea Gals appear in parades, perform for the military at home and overseas, and participate in NFL cheer events.

They wind up doing radio and television appearances too.

It doesn’t pay a lot, said Irwin, but it comes with some great perks.

“We have sponsorships for hair and nails and tanning,” she said. “And we get season tickets.”

And even though there are rules preventing Sea Gals from fraternizing with Seahawks, they do get to meet the players once in a while.

“I got to go to Vancouver with Richard Sherman, Red Bryant and Doug Baldwin,” Irwin said. “They are just really great guys.”

She allowed that some of the players aren’t always quite as concerned about the anti-fraternization rules as are the cheerleaders.

“Sometimes we have to say, ‘Hey, I really like my job,’” she said with a smile.

It is a very fun job, she went on. But when the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl, things got very exciting very fast.

Super Bowl

Irwin was made a team captain last year, one of four cheerleaders to oversee a squad. To get ready for the Super Bowl, she had to learn dances to 30 songs in order to be able to teach them to her squad.

“We were given our music on a Tuesday, and we were leaving that Thursday morning,” said Irwin.

They flew out to New Jersey in a chartered plane, and got up at 4:30 a.m., (1:30 in their own time zone) to make the rounds of talk shows.

Irwin and her team mates appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, and Fox and Friends.

Then they headed to the stadium and practiced, where temperatures were very low.

Then it was back to the talk shows, and Irwin was among those who got to go on The Crowd Goes Wild with Regis Philbin.

The following morning they practiced again, then they had few hours off. Irwin also appeared on Fox Sports News.

When the big day arrived, she had a moment in which she was overwhelmed by it all.

“At the Super Bowl I was leading out of our tunnel, and I had a few minutes to look up at the stadium and I’m seeing orange everywhere, and a sea of blue. It was incredibly nerve wracking,” she said. “It was such a big moment. I was realizing, ‘Oh my God, I’m at the Super Bowl.’ And I was trembling on the field. I just couldn’t believe I was there.”

The parade

Three days later, the largest crowd ever to convene in Seattle was converging on the downtown, and Irwin and the Sea Gals were riding in the parade that three-quarters of a million people had come to see.

Irwin was riding in one of the Ducks, a fleet of amphibious vehicles that ferry tourists around the city.

On the hood was Marshawn Lynch.

“He was throwing Skittles, and he was drinking Fireball and banging on a drum,” said Jessica, smiling at the memory. “I couldn’t stop staring at all the people. We were getting pelted with frozen Skittles. It hurt, but it was so cool. It turned into a thing, the Skittles. We threw them too.”

It took three hours to get through the parade, and even though it was freezing cold and she couldn’t feel her feet, she loved every minute of it, she said.


After the season

Jessica will get a few weeks to collect her breath before she has to try out for the team again (all team members have to try out every year, but the Sea Gals already on the team get to start in the finals).

And although there are three women on the team who are 37, meaning Jessica could theoretically be a Sea Gal for another 14 seasons, she said she has other things in mind.

One thing that interests her is radio, and that’s because of an unexpected incident at the start of the season this year.

In the opening game of the season, Richard Sherman made a spectacular interception, then ran it back up the field before barreling off into the sidelines. (See video here)

Gleeful, he started dancing with a cheerleader, and video of it went viral. The cheerleader was Irwin.

“I thought it was a funny moment, but it ended up go

SI.com: Super Bowl XLVIII Cheerleaders

Click here to check out photos of the Sea Gals and Denver Broncos Cheerleaders at the Super Bowl last Sunday.

Port Townsend’s Sea Gal back in game for Seahawks victory parade today in Seattle

Brita Guthrie, fourth from the left, a Port Townsend High School graduate, poses with other Sea Gals and a 12th Man flag on “Super Bowl Boulevard” in Times Square in New York City. — The Associated Press

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
Fegruary 4, 2014

SEATTLE — After today’s parade that celebrates the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory, Port Townsend native Brita Guthrie’s life will go back to normal.

She had already been back to her full-time job in the marketing department at www.Zulily.com, an online supplier of children’s clothing, for one day Tuesday after performing as a member of the Sea Gals cheer and dance team at Sunday’s Super Bowl in New Jersey.

She was seriously sleep-deprived but in a very good mood.

“We only got about two hours of sleep a night, but it was worth it,” she said.

“On Friday morning, when we were waiting to go on the ‘Today’ show, I was thinking that I’m really going to miss getting up at 4:30 in the morning to be with the other girls.”

She’ll take a day off today to be part of a parade in Seattle that celebrates the Seahawks dominating the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.

From Guthrie’s vantage point, the game didn’t seem lopsided.

“Every player on the field gave their best to the game, and whoever plays the best will win,” she said.

“There are so many emotions tied up in a game of this caliber. The fact that the Seahawks were playing so well made us all proud.”

Guthrie, who graduated from Port Townsend High School in 2008, is a member of the 33-member squad that performs dances and cheers between plays.

Going to the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., was a special treat because it is the only occasion when the squad performs outside of the Seahawks’ home stadium.

At CenturyLink Field, the women split into groups of eight and dance at each corner of the field, outside of the goalposts.

At the Super Bowl, the Sea Gals performed on opposite ends of one side of the field while the Denver Broncos’ squad took the other side.

While the Super Bowl was considered an away game for the Seahawks, there were plenty of Seattle fans, including some who Guthrie recognized, in the stadium cheering the team on.

“It was amazing to see how many fans had made the trip,” she said.

“It made it more like a home game.”

While she is a dedicated Seahawks fan, the payoff, she said, is that she gets to dance in public. Once she left Port Townsend, there weren’t a lot of places she could dance, and she said she missed it.

While attending the University of Washington, Guthrie decided to audition for the school’s cheerleading squad, which led to a successful audition for the Sea Gals.

If she chooses to try out again, it’s not a done deal, she said, because even returning squad members are required to audition each year.

During Super Bowl weekend, the Sea Gals stayed in Manhattan in New York City, a place Guthrie had visited only once before during a family trip when she was in middle school.

Guthrie is the daughter of Port Townsend High School teacher Jim Guthrie and his wife, Carol. Brita has a 22-year-old sister, Kirsten.

Jim Guthrie said he didn’t spot his daughter on TV during the game but was able to pick out the back of her head during the trophy ceremony at the end.

After the game, the cheerleaders and players attended a huge victory party that featured entertainment by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and a performance by a band led by Seahawks owner Paul Allen on guitar.

While earning a national championship has been a long-term goal for many 12th Man fans, the trip gave Brita Guthrie a chance to fulfill one of her childhood ambitions.

“When I was 8 years old, my dream was to be on the ‘Today’ show,” she said.

“I used to tell my parents that whatever I do, I want to be good enough so I am featured on the ‘Today’ show.

“This was a real-life dream come true.”

Sea Gal from Port Townsend to dance at Super Bowl

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
January 25, 2014

PORT TOWNSEND — Although no Port Townsend High School graduates will play in the Super Bowl, the school and the town will be represented on the field at next week’s championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

Brita Guthrie, who graduated in 2008, is a member of the Sea Gals, a 33-member squad that performs dances and cheers in between plays.

She and the other Sea Gals will travel with the Seahawks to New Jersey on Thursday to cheer on the team as it fights to win Super Bowl XLVIII next Sunday, Feb. 2.

“I am superexcited,” said Guthrie, 24. “This is an amazing opportunity.

“This is the most televised event in the world and is something that I can tell my grandchildren.”

Since she performs only between plays, she gets to watch the games from a vantage point that few share.

“That last play, the touchback, that happened 10 feet in front of me,” Guthrie said of the final-seconds intercepted pass that won the game for the Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday and sent the Seattle team to the Super Bowl.

Guthrie’s screen time is limited because the camera action necessarily centers on the game, but she has appeared fleetingly on TV and on the Jumbotron.

“I have to go to the games to see my daughter cheer because she’s not on TV,” said Brita’s father, Jim Guthrie, who has taught industrial arts at Port Townsend High School for 27 years .

He said he goes to every home game courtesy of his daughter, who passes on complimentary tickets to her father and mother, Carol.

His daughter will be involved in several official functions before the game.

“It’s not like she’ll get to do any sightseeing,” he said.

“It’s a lot of work.”

Jan Boutilier, who works in the Port Townsend High School administrative office, said she had known Brita Guthrie for years.

“She’s a fabulous, talented young lady who is kind, smart and helpful, and an absolute joy to have around,” Boutilier said.

The Sea Gals member attended the University of Washington and earned a degree in marketing communications with a minor in Norwegian language in 2012.

She works for www.Zulily.com, an online supplier of children’s clothing, which has worked with her to allow her to perform as a Sea Gal.

“It’s a huge commitment,” she said. “I only have two weeks off from April through the football season.

“It essentially takes up all my free time.”

While she is a dedicated Seahawks fan, the payoff is that she gets to dance in public.

“Once I left Port Townsend, I found there weren’t a lot of places I could dance, and I really missed it,” she said.

This is a continuation of a lifelong interest. She spent several years learning how to dance at the O’Meara Dance Studio in Port Townsend.

While attending UW, Guthrie decided to audition for the school’s cheerleading squad.

That led to a successful audition for the Sea Gals, “although at the time, it seemed like a stretch for me,” she said.

She earned a place on the squad for the 2012-13 season and had to audition again for this season, although past members of the squad don’t have to go through the first stage of the elimination.

While she had a head start, she still had to compete with 90 other women for a place on the squad.

“I can tell you, it was a whole lot more nerve-wracking to dance in front of 10 people at the audition than in front of 70,000 people at the game,” she said.

Guthrie said she doesn’t have a lot of personal contact with the players but has met quarterback Russell Wilson, who “is one of the most sincere, genuine people I’ve ever met.”

She hasn’t met controversial cornerback Richard Sherman but noted that the two have some things in common: their age and that they both have degrees in marketing communication — his from Stanford — and earned a 3.9 grade-point average.

Guthrie is dating a man she met before she became involved with the Seahawks. He sits in a special “spouse’s section” at the games.

“He’s gotten close to all the girls and their husbands and boyfriends,” she said.

“We all go out together all the time.”

Guthrie has a 22-year-old sister, Kirsten, who works as a nanny.

“I made a good choice raising them in Port Townsend,” Jim Guthrie said of his children.

“It’s a very supportive place for children to develop.

“It was a great village that raised them.”

He said his daughter is excited to be part of the Seahawks because it is a “classy organization with high standards.”

“It’s really cool to have her paycheck signed by [team owner] Paul Allen,” Jim Guthrie said.

________

VooDoo Doll Lands Once In a Lifetime Opportunity

Jaime Backstage
(Photo courtesy of Jamie Clark)

By Elizabeth Barnes
New Orleans VooDoo
Feb. 10, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – Super Bowl XLVII was not just a historic event for the city of New Orleans, but it was also a dream come true for one of the New Orleans VooDoo Dolls, Jaime.

Jaime, a 22-year old Harvey native, was chosen to be a backup dancer for Beyonce’s halftime performance. Growing up so close to the city, Jaime said it was an amazing and unforgettable experience.

“It was truly a dream come true,” said Jaime. “In fact, I had even stated in my interview with the Dolls that dancing with Beyonce would be my dream.”

Jaime found out about the audition through a text message from a friend.

“I had to send in an audition tape of a piece from Single Ladies and then do freestyle form of dance,” Jaime said.

From the audition tape, Jaime was then picked to be an alternate dancer. To her surprise, the first rehearsal turned into an audition. Jaime would later land the spot.

Jaime with Frank Gaston Jr.
(Photo courtesy of Jamie Clark)

“It was an amazing experience, from the event staff, to the dancers, to Beyonce herself,” said Jaime. “It was absolutely fabulous!”

When asked her most memorable moment of her experience Jaime said, “Besides Beyonce running to us taking pictures after her performance, it really was just standing in the tunnel looking at all the people from all over knowing this was Super Bowl and what this meant.”

Jaime explained that she gained a lot of knowledge from Beyonce’s Creative Director, Frank Gaston, who opened her eyes to a broader understanding of dance. She said it helped her gain confidence, and Jaime knows she can share this valuable advice with her fellow Dolls.

“Now that I’m back with the Dolls and can get gigs, I would love to share the experience with the Dolls and get them involved.” Jaime explained. “Even though I was honored to be a part of this event, I missed my Dolls through the process.”

The Ravens may have won the Lombardi trophy, but Jaime won an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience.

“Anything is possible,” Jaime said.


Hey! I found this cool photo of Jaime and all of the dancers with Frank. There’s Jaime in the bottom right corner! ~ sasha

Style Transformation: Ravens and 49ers Cheerleaders

Stylist.com: We all know today’s cheerleading staples: short skirt, and tiny tops – but what about before the barely-there uniforms? Take a look at the evolution of the hottest cheerleaders this season, the 49er Gold Rush girls and the Baltimore Ravens squads who will be cheering on their teams in Super Bowl XLVII.

The Baltimore Ravens joined the NFL in 1996 and the cheerleaders followed in 1998. The San Francisco 49ers, however, have been in the NFL since its inception in 1949. The name doesn’t actually come from the year that the National Football League was formed, though. The 49ers are actually named after the gold prospectors that flooded Northern California back in 1849 and they’re the oldest major professional sports team in California. The cheerleading squad is officially known as Gold Rush and was first created in 1983. One of their most famous alumus is Teri Hatcher, famous for her roles on Desperate Housewives and Lois & Clark.

Click the gallery [here] to brush up on more of the franchise’s cheerleading history!

Local women headed to Super Bowl with Ravens cheerleading team

By Dewey Fox
Baltimore Sun
February 1, 2013

One of the greatest rewards in this world is seeing a return on the investment of hard work and sacrifice, and for a group of women who live in Harford County, the hard work they have put toward earning and keeping spots on the Baltimore Ravens cheerleading squad is paying off with a trip to the Super Bowl.

Serena B., a John Carroll graduate who lives in Bel Air; Angel P., of Bel Air; Joanna P., an Abingdon native who went to Edgewood High; and Jaime A., a West Virginia native who resides in Abingdon, Ravens Cheerleaders all, were recently put on the list of 32 squad members who would be making the journey with the Ravens to New Orleans, where Baltimore will square off with the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday. (The NFL doesn’t allow its cheerleaders to reveal their full names in public forums.)

Joanna, Serena, Jaime, and Angel

“Everyone is buzzing with excitement,” Serena B., a four-year member of the squad who teaches tap and ballet at the Bel Air Athletic Club, said. “We have put in endless hours this season, and are continuing to do so during the post-season. We couldn’t be more thrilled to prove to everyone, once again, that they shouldn’t underestimate the Ravens.”

“We are just as keyed up as the whole city and state, along with every Ravens fan in the world,” Angel P., who has been dancing and cheering since age 4, and has been with the Ravens for six seasons, said. “We always cheer on our team, win or lose, but this is amazing.”

JoAnna P., who began her cheerleading career at 5 with the Bel Air Redskins rec team and has been cheering with the Baltimore squad for four years, was at a loss for words when asked how she was feeling about the impending trip down south.

“I don’t know that I can find the words to truly express all of my emotion and excitement about the team making it to the Super Bowl, and the 32 of us that get to go cheer them on in New Orleans,” she said. “I’ve never felt more honored, and I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to cheer at one of the biggest games in the NFL.”

Jaime A., one of the Ravens’ senior cheerleaders, having been on the squad for eight years, and who was a member of the teams at West Virginia University and Morehead State, summed up the feelings of her fellow team members quite succinctly: “Everyone is so excited about this entire experience,” she said.

“This is probably the biggest dream of any NFL cheerleader, and we just can’t believe we are living it.”

No easy days

Though you would never be able to tell from the attitude they project on the field, the women on the Ravens cheerleading squad are under an intense amount of pressure. Getting a spot on the team is hard, and keeping one is every bit as tough.

Angel P., who began cheering at 4 in the Overlea rec football program and initially tried out for the Ravens squad at 19, detailed the initiation process and what the team members deal with at practices.

“It takes a very strong person with a lot of motivation and drive to be an NFL cheerleader,” she said. “We are required to have a full-time job, or be a full-time student, to even be considered for a spot on the squad. Our tryout process is very extensive, and includes a two-day tryout selection with criteria of dance, poise, athleticism and appearance. The second round is in front of an interview panel of coaches, professionals and Ravens personnel. The final round is a physical evaluation by Ravens team physician, and practice rounds to see how the team would fit together. In regards to our ‘dance moves,’ we’re required to learn 18 fillers, and we are tested on them at camp in front of our directors and coaches. This material is what everyone sees on the field on game day. It’s our responsibility to stay in shape and be healthy. Each practice we run four miles, participate in strength training and do cardio with dance.”

“People are often surprised when they learn that we have to try out to make the cheer team every year,” Jaime A. said. ” I have been on the squad eight years, and it doesn’t get easier. We don’t have much of an off-season. We start our tryout clinics in February, [the same month of the Super Bowl].”

Serena B. who began dancing at 2 “and hasn’t stopped since,” explained the pressures involved with remaining a team member, and how she copes with them.

“Every year the stakes get higher and higher as expectations continue to increase,” she said. “Our team is never stagnant, and we always are pushing to be better than we were before. That being said, it is a difficult task. But, when it is something that you are truly passionate about and have faith in, you find it in you to stay motivated to make it to the final round. It also helps to have a great support system at home. I couldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my family cheering me on.”

For those interested

The path to becoming an NFL cheerleader, whether with the Ravens or any other team, is not an easy one, but the Harford County women making the trip to New Orleans for the Super Bowl were unanimous in their advice to younger girls looking to make the spot on a pro squad.

“Never give up and stay positive,” JoAnna P., who made the squad on her third try in 2008 after being cut the previous two years, said. “Anything is possible with a little hard work and perseverance. Always follow your dreams.”

“Stay focused, and know that if you keep doing good things, good things will come to you with hard work, dedication, ethics and morals,” Angel P. said.

“Never give up,” Serena B. said. “Just remember why you want to be a part of this organization, and let that push you to be the best all around person that you can be. While I am so grateful that I am able to continue my love of dance, being an NFL cheerleader is more than just being on the field at game day, it’s about representing our team and our city.”

“I would tell them to always give 100 percent, and never give up,” Jaime A. said. ” I would have never imagined as a child that my love of cheerleading would have brought me so many amazing experiences.”

Who’s gonna win?

Not surprising at all was the response each of the four women gave when asked who they thought was going to come home with Lombardi Trophy after Sunday’s matchup: “Ravens, all the way.”

Theresa Pottratz and the Colts Cheerleaders Busily Entertain as Superb Super Bowl Hosts

Theresa (second from right) along with (from left) her son Christopher Pottratz, intern Alicia Schwartzentruber, and intern Heather Hudson at Indy's Monument Circle, celebrating the fact that they had survived Super Bowl XLVI (click to enlarge)

For all the talk of whether or not there would be cheerleaders at the recent Super Bowl in Indianapolis, for anyone who visited the city’s Super Bowl Village or watched “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” there was no doubt. No matter which teams had made the final two, there were definitely cheerleaders playing a big role in the Super Bowl festivities. Between extended autograph sessions at the convention center’s NFL Experience, singing and dancing at the three stages within Super Bowl Village, appearing on two of Jimmy Fallon’s shows at Indy’s Hilbert Circle Theatre, or countless other appearances, such as dancing in the sand at the Celebrity Beach Bowl football game, the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders made sure that there was no question that pro cheerleaders are an essential part of NFL entertainment.

Colts Cheerleaders Coordinator Theresa Pottratz and her talented squad worked tirelessly prior to and during Super Bowl week to entertain the million plus visitors who enjoyed Super Bowl Village and the myriad of nearby events. A couple days after the Super Bowl, Theresa took a way beyond-well deserved vacation to Costa Rica, and upon her return to Indy, graciously answered our questions about a memorable week for her, the Colts Cheerleaders, and all of Indianapolis.

UC.com – Theresa, did you get advice from other cheer squad directors regarding what Super Bowl week is like for the host city cheerleaders? Do you think the Colts Cheerleaders were more visible and in demand than usual because of the unique nature of downtown Indy’s popular Super Bowl Village?

Theresa – I did actually talk to other cheer directors about the Super Bowl in their cities and so I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect, but what made our city so unique was the Super Bowl Village. We performed multiple times every day for ten days in the Super Bowl Village, which required a lot of rehearsal time before hand. I don’t believe all the other cities had anything quite like our fabulous Super Bowl Village.

The Colts Cheerleaders perform in Super Bowl Village

UC.com – Compare and contrast, running a cheer squad that is on the sidelines for the Super Bowl, versus being host city’s cheerleaders? Is one more or less crazy?

Theresa – I would say being the host city is a lot crazier! When we were in the Super Bowl, I had to worry about certain things like transportation and per diems for food, but most things were taken care of. Most of the appearances are on the Friday and Saturday before the game. Being the host city, I worked 127 hours in ten days. All 41 of my girls were booked most days from January 27th through February 5th, and because we had so many different performances with a variety of routines, we had a lot of practicing to do. We don’t just do normal sideline routines. We had a wide variety of dance numbers including lyrical and tap and five fabulous singers! We like to be a little different! I don’t know how we would have made it if we had been both the host team and in the Super Bowl, but I would have liked to try!

UC.com – When did Jimmy Fallon’s show contact you, and what are some fun memories?

Theresa – I think the first contact was in December because they originally wanted to tape a segment on January 8th, but that fell through. Then on January 19th, I received another phone call saying they wanted girls for two different shows. I had to do some rearranging of the schedule to get all the girls they wanted, but we made it work. The staff and crew of the Jimmy Fallon show are wonderful. We had so much fun working with them. The girls even rhinestoned a pair of underpants for Captain Underpants, aka Seth Herzog, and Jimmy had to apologize to me for accidentally hitting one of my cheerleaders!

Theresa backstage at "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" with prodution associate Brandon Dubeansky and Seth Herzog, pre-show warm up comic and "Captain Underpants"

UC.com – For the Jimmy Fallon show, was it difficult to select which Cheerleaders would be part of it (see clips here)? Also, was the choreography during the final show provided by squad or the show?

Theresa – Since we didn’t get the call until a week before our Super Bowl events started, it wasn’t that hard, because it was more of who was available at the times they needed us to be there. I did try to spread out what I called the “premier” events so that as many girls as possible got to be involved with those extra special appearances. The choreography was provided by their wonderful choreographer Danielle Flora.

Performing in Late Night's Super Bowl edition of "Models and Buckets"

UC.com – What were some of the logistical challenges during Super Bowl week, dealing with traffic, having uniforms ready every day, et cetera?

Theresa – The logistics were a nightmare! My interns and I spent hours and hours trying to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be with the right uniform and the proper credentials. Because our normal transportation company was charging so much during Super Bowl week, we decided to use Colts vehicles with interns chauffeuring. We were fortunate to have some parking spaces available through the NFL and the Super Bowl committee, so it worked fairly well. Our biggest issue on game day was that our security company did not get properly credentialed to be in the perimeter, so we were a little short handed that day.

UC.com – What are your feelings about how Indianapolis served as Super Bowl hosts?

Theresa – I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of Indianapolis and the Super Bowl Committee. I think they did an amazing job. Everyone was so easy to work with it. I talked to so many people from the NFL and the media who kept telling me this was the best Super Bowl they have ever been to. I was really impressed with the Village and how many people were always there.

UC.com – What were some of the comments that you heard from the Cheerleaders about their experiences? It was a mild weather week, but for a squad that performs under a roof a lot of the time, how was performing in a variety of weather conditions, performing on sand at Victory Field’s Beach Bowl, and singing in front of throngs on Georgia Street?

Theresa – The words I kept hearing from the girls were, “This is the most amazing experience of my life.” The weather was a little bad the first weekend because the wind was so strong and it was hard to do some of the dance moves, but not only did the Colts Cheerleaders do a great job but our Junior Cheerleaders were out there as well. The sand for the Beach Bowl was a little rough but they made it through. It really helped to have girls who have traveled with tour shows before, because they are used to being flexible because you never know what conditions you might be performing in. I was very proud of how my girls handled themselves.

The Colts Cheerleaders perform on the sand during the Celebrity Beach Bowl

UC.com – This year’s squad had to endure an unusual, for the Colts lately, 2-14 season. How did you feel about this particular squad being able to be part of the excitement Super Bowl week?

Theresa – It really was a different season for us so it was nice to have the Super Bowl here, but even without that, we had a great year. We are very blessed to have a lot of unique opportunities for the girls to participate in.

UC.com – During the seasons when the Colts made the Super Bowl, what is it like to be on the field for a Super Bowl? Where were you during this past Super Bowl?

Theresa – There is nothing like being on the field during the opening moments of the Super Bowl. Everyone in the entire stadium is so excited! Once the game gets going though, it’s not that much different than a regular game, until the end of course. For Super Bowl XLVI, we were in the stadium for “NFL on Location” in the Exhibit Halls all afternoon, but we had to leave shortly after kick-off to get to our next appearance. It was a little sad when we had to leave the stadium after the game started though. We wanted to be on the sidelines. Fortunately, my next appearance was going to the Hilbert Theater to watch the game with some of the Jimmy Fallon staff!

UC.com – Was part of your responsibilities to serve as “host” to the Patriots squad during their time in Indy or to the Saintsations during their NFL Experience appearance?

Theresa – As soon as I heard the Patriots were coming, I sent an email to their director, Tracy Sormanti. She’s a great lady and I would have loved to spend some time with her and her girls. We tried to arrange for the girls to get together but unfortunately, our schedules just didn’t work out. They came to town on Thursday that week and our schedules were completely booked from that point on.

We did get together with the Saintsations though. Lesslee Fitzmorris and I had gotten the girls together back when we were both in Miami for Super Bowl XLIV. The girls had a great time. This year some of the girls went out together on Friday, January 27th, and then we worked together for the cheer clinic on January 29th. Of course Lesslee and I were able to squeeze in a lunch and a breakfast during those few days she was here.

UC.com – What advice would you give a cheer director of an NFL squad that hosts a Super Bowl? Who do you want to give a shout out to anyone who made things run smoothly during the week?

Theresa – My advice would be to go with the flow! No matter how carefully you plan, something will change last minute. The other thing that I would recommend is to have a large squad. We went from 32 girls to 42 girls for the 2011 squad because of Super Bowl. I would never have been able to fill all our appearances if I didn’t have extra girls. I would love for us to host the Super Bowl again. I feel like I would know what to expect and could plan accordingly, but overall, I was happy with the way everything went.

I want to give a shout out to my interns, Alicia and Heather, for all their hard work, to marketing interns Kelsey and Ashley for helping with the driving, to my son Christopher who worked with us the whole week, and a special shout out to my Junior Cheer helpers, because without them, the Junior Cheerleaders would not have had the opportunity to perform three different times.

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For those spending time in Indy’s Super Bowl Village, visitors saw a glimpse of the totality of the Colts Cheerleaders’ Herculean efforts and their ability to be present whenever and wherever needed, just like real-life super heroes, during Super Bowl week. We thank Theresa for her indefatigable efforts during Super Bowl week and for taking time out to participate in this interview. In the days after the Super Bowl, the skies darkened, cold winds visited, and the downtown’s Super Bowl ornamentation removed, but the city retains wonderful memories of a special week, during which Theresa and the Colts Cheerleaders rocked, and did the city and pro cheerleading proud.

SI.com: Super Bowl Cheerleaders Over the Years

Click here for a look back in time at recent, and not-so-recent Super Bowls.

Philadelphia Eagles Liberty Belles at SuperBowl XV

Local Business Owner’s Super Bowl Legacy

By Jay Oza
North Andover Patch
January 31, 2012

[Photos]

Two amazing journeys started in the football season of 2001.

A young quarterback by the name of Tom Brady buttoned up his chinstrap after hometown favorite Drew Bledsoe went down with a severe injury.

The same season, a young dancer named Melissa Amershek moved to North Andover and joined the Patriots cheerleading squad.

The adventure that ensued will forever live on in the hearts of New Englanders, and it would also help Amershek open up a dance studio in North Andover that was recently voted the number 1 dance school in Andover and North Andover in each of the last two years.

For Amershek, the owner of Just Dance in North Andover, that journey began with a test.

Amershek joined the cheering squad in 2001 with only a basic understanding of the game. “They make you take this five page test,” Amershek told Patch. “You’re not allowed to be on the field until you pass the test and you know your stuff,” she continued.

And with that, a seed of passion for football was planted. “By the second or third game we were so into it we could make calls ourselves,” she recalled.

As Brady gained confidence and wins, Amershek and her cheerleading teammates had a phenomenal view from the field.

“It’s intense being on those sidelines,” she said. As the playoffs approached, the intensity increased.

In the divisional round of the 2001 playoffs, the Patriots hosted the Oakland Raiders in what is unanimously known as one of the most dramatic, picturesque, and exciting football games of all time.

The “Tuck Rule” game was played in almost blizzard conditions and it was the last game played at the old Foxborough Stadium. In the waning minutes, the game was almost lost when Brady appeared to have fumbled the ball.

Amershek and her teammates held their breath on the sidelines until the final ruling declared that the Patriots would retain the ball.

“Thank God for that call, it’s made history,” Amershek recalled.

After winning the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh, Amershek, Brady, and the Patriots moved on to Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.

“To be there for the Super Bowl, it was unbelievable,” Amershek said.

When asked which experience was more memorable, Amershek replied “It was the first successful Super Bowl so that would have to take the cake.”

“The Snow Bowl was a close second; that was the last game in the old stadium,” she continued.

Amershek now runs one of the Merrimack Valley’s most successful dance studios, Just Dance.

“This is my passion; it’s what I love to do,” she said.

“I had over 100 customers on day one of opening my doors, and it’s grown every year,” she continued. “Right now we’re at about 300 students and it’s still growing.”

Amershek also credits the town of North Andover for fostering a good attitude toward businesses. “When you’re trying to open a new business in this area, the town works with you so much,” she said. “It’s business friendly, its family friendly, and it’s just a nice, safe area.”

Just Dance offers competition and recreational programs as well as a popular boutique. “We have something for everyone,” Amershek said.

As for her beloved Patriots, there is a big game on Sunday, in case you needed a reminder.

In Super Bowl XLVI, Amershek, like many of us, is hoping for another Patriots victory. “I don’t want to jinx us, but I’m thinking Welker as MVP,” she said.

The adventure continues this Sunday as Brady and the Patriots hope for a fourth Super Bowl win and Amershek and her students continue to dance their hearts out.

Ex-cheerleader reminisces about 49ers

Bonnie-Jill Laflin returns to Candlestick with her father, Ross Laflin, to reminisce about the 49ers.

By Bonnie-Jill Laflin | Special to Page 2
ESPN Page 2
January 17, 2012

As I prepare for this weekend’s NFC Championship Game, I am filled with anticipation.

It is so exciting to see the San Francisco 49ers host the most important game of their season.

I’m so proud to see they are getting the respect they’ve been missing since those glory years.

Fans everywhere are talking about their chances against the New York Giants and how this will be a true test. But, win or lose, the new Jim Harbaugh 49ers are making a statement. In just one year, they have made an incredible turnaround, and who would have thought the road to the Super Bowl would come through Candlestick Park.

As a San Francisco native, I grew up a 49ers fan. I had no choice, being a daddy’s girl and he being a 49ers season-ticket holder; I was always in tow to each home game.

This past Saturday, as I stepped onto the sidelines at The Stick with my dad, my head flooded with so many emotions.

These were the same sidelines I cheered on as a member of the 49ers Gold Rush from 1994 to ’96, the years when if we didn’t win a championship, it was a bad year. The dynasty years, the era of Steve Young and Jerry Rice. The year when Young finally got that monkey off his back, and now here I was again.

It was a perfectly sunny day, unlike most in San Francisco in January, when the fog and biting cold are normal. I wondered whether this was a sign.

Bonnie-Jill Laflin was a 49ers cheerleader in the mid-1990s.

I looked around the stadium, soaking it in.

I had my Super Bowl ring on, along with all my blinged-out Niners gear.

I felt like I was back home and with my 49ers family, surrounded by so many 49ers greats from the ’80s and the ’90s, such as Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Eric Davis, Brent Jones and Keena Turner, now supporting the new members of the 49ers family.

I said hello to coach George Seifert, who was being honored that day, and we reminisced about the good old days and talked about how we both hoped this would mark the return of the 49ers, the 49ers of the DeBartolo years.

But now we’re here in 2012, with a new regime led by 49ers president Jed York, who spent a few moments with me on the field prior to the game and dubbed me the 49ers’ good luck charm.

The player intros of the starting defense got those in the crowd swinging their rally towels and screaming, “Who’s got it better than us — nobody!” That’s Harbaugh’s mantra. The game was an emotional roller coaster, a high-powered offense and the NFL’s stingiest defense battling quarter after quarter. Who would have ever thought that in the final four minutes, these two teams would be exchanging blows like heavyweight boxers in the last round of a championship fight.

The emotions bonded us as we exchanged high-fives, and paced up and down the aisles with each lead change. Fans who did not know each other before the game now were united in one cause to get a W and advance to the NFC title game once more. The Stick was rocking it.

Then came “The Grab” with nine seconds left as Vernon Davis scored the winning touchdown on the 30th anniversary of “The Catch.” And finally Alex Smith got the monkey off his back and silenced his critics.

Harbaugh, in only one year, has instilled a new attitude and a new energy.

This is what sports is all about.

I looked around the stands, and I saw everyone hugging and screaming, my dad and I sharing the same hug we shared when I was a girl, and I thought to myself, “Who’s got it better than us — nobody.”

Bonnie-Jill Laflin is the first and only female scout in the NBA, an animal activist, and a former cheerleader. She can be reached on Twitter here.

Falcons Cheerleader Alum Melanie needs your votes!

Melanie Snare is hoping to fulfill her final NFL dream

ATLANTA (January 2, 2011) – Melanie Snare, was a cheerleader/dancer at UNC-Chapel Hill and then cheered in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons for 5 seasons, was a Captain on the team, traveled to Egypt to entertain the US military, cheered in the American Bowl in Tokyo and was even selected as the 2006 Pro Bowl Cheerleader ending her career on the sidelines in Hawaii. But there was one major NFL dream that never came true – the Super Bowl. Now that final dream could be within reach with the support of the dance & cheerleading world thanks to an online contest for the Super Bowl Bud Light special correspondent.

Bud Light is currently holding a Facebook contest to search for a special correspondent for Super Bowl XLVI and Melanie has entered. Candidates will be evaluated by the number of ‘Likes’ they receive on Facebook and a special judging panel. Melanie is hoping the cheerleading world rallies around her and helps send her to Indianapolis as the special correspondent to make this final dream come true. She works as a TV host based out of Atlanta covering entertainment, red carpets, sports and more so she is perfect for this correspondent position. She even hosted a TV show this NFL season covering the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders audition process and swimsuit calendar shoot in Bermuda called New South.

To help this NFL Cheerleader Alumni make it to the Super Bowl, please vote for her as the Super Bowl correspondent before January 20, 2012. Click here and follow the simple instructions below:

  1. Click on “View Applications”
  2. Find the video titled “Melanie Snare” and click on it. [currently it’s on the first page, but you may have to browse through the pages]
  3. Click “like” to the right of Melanie’s video under her name to “vote” for her.
  4. It will prompt you to share your vote on your Facebook wall to let others know to vote for Melanie too.

For more information about Melanie, please visit www.MelanieSnare.com and please connect with her on Facebook (Click here) & Twitter (Click here). She loves connecting with cheerleaders from around the world!

A Super Bowl Minus the Pompoms

By John Branch
New York Times
February 4, 2011

DALLAS — A substantial wing of the Dallas Cowboys’ suburban headquarters is devoted to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. On Thursday afternoon, in an immense dance studio, members of the world’s most famous cheer squad rehearsed for one of their dozens of appearances surrounding the Super Bowl this week.

“We have never been this busy,” said Kelli McGonagill Finglass, a Cowboys cheerleader in the 1980s and the director since 1991.

jump-splits

But Super Bowl XLV itself represents an unusual happenstance in the coupled worlds of football and cheerleading. In a state famous for Friday Night Lights and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, where Lawrence Herkimer practically invented the modern cheerleader (and did patent the pompom), there will be no cheerleaders at the biggest football game of them all.

The Packers and Steelers are two of the six N.F.L. teams without professional cheerleading squads. Sunday’s game is believed to be the first time in more than 40 years that no team cheerleaders will be on the sideline of the Super Bowl.

It will probably be the first and last time that no cheerleaders will be on the sideline for a football game at Cowboys Stadium, too, if not anywhere else in Texas.

This is a place where it is often said that parents wish their boys to become quarterbacks and their girls to become cheerleaders. That a cheerleader-less Super Bowl is being played in Texas, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, is seen here as the ultimate irony.

“In Texas, if you have football players on the field and you don’t have cheerleaders on the sideline?” Denise Martin, founder of Texas Cheerleader magazine, asked rhetorically. “Where there is football in Texas, there are cheerleaders.”

Not this time.

Both the Packers and Steelers have had cheerleading squads in the past. The Packers, in fact, say that they had the N.F.L.’s first, in 1931. But the franchises now believe that modern-day professional cheerleaders — dance squads, really — are not a good fit for their teams or their markets.

The New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns also do not have professional cheerleader squads.

They all stand in stark relief to the Dallas Cowboys and their famed cheerleaders, a profit maker for the franchise (the team will not reveal the numbers) thanks to merchandise sales, appearance fees and the millions of mouse clicks that bring fans to the team’s Web site. It is nearly impossible to imagine the Cowboys without the cheerleaders.

“We’re too strongly branded together,” Finglass said.

By doing without cheerleaders, however, the Steelers and Packers send a quieter message about how they view themselves and want to be seen by others.

The Packers disbanded their last professional cheer-and-dance squad in 1988, after a poll of fans found strong opposition and indifference. The team came to see the dancers as incongruous to the franchise’s focus on football history, from founder Curly Lambeau to coach Vince Lombardi and beyond.

For the past 20 years, there have been cheerleaders at Lambeau Field — co-ed squads borrowed from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and nearby St. Norbert College. The Packers did not invite them to the Super Bowl.

“We think our nod to tradition and a collegiate feel at games probably adds to our brand value — for the opposite reason having cheerleaders may add to that of the Cowboys,”‘ said Jason Wied, Green Bay’s vice president for administration.

Dressed in Packers regalia, the cheerleading men hoist megaphones and wave giant flags. The women wear traditional sweaters and skirts. They start chants, build pyramids and hold signs, just as they do for their college teams on other days of the week.

green-bay-cheer

“Most other teams are more dancers, not cheerleaders,” said Ann Rodrian, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay cheerleading coach whose squad has worked Packers’ home games for 20 years. “They don’t usually show us because my girls have all their clothes on.”

The Steelerettes cheered in Pittsburgh from 1961 to 1969. They were women from Robert Morris Junior College (now Robert Morris University) brought to help a struggling franchise sell tickets and attract attention.

“We knew from the beginning that the Chief didn’t really want us down on the field,” said the Steelerette Dianne Feazell Rossini, referring to the late Steelers founder Art Rooney. “Mr. Rooney wasn’t really crazy about it, but he kind of tolerated it for a time.”

She remembers the game against the Bears at Forbes Field after the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. Given the somber mood, the Steelerettes were asked to stay seated on the sideline and not cheer. To fight the chill, Rooney ordered that they be given Steelers jackets, Rossini said. Hers now resides in a Pittsburgh museum, along with her Steelerettes uniform.

The Steelers make little mention of the Steelerettes. The team this week declined to discuss its reasons for not having cheerleaders.

“It’s simply an organizational decision,” the team spokesman Dave Lockett wrote in an e-mail message.

Yet it has been at least 40 years, however, since the Super Bowl was played without cheerleaders. The precise game is hard to determine because the N.F.L. and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have no records of whether cheerleading squads accompanied teams to various Super Bowls.

But one man has chronicled the games like no other. Steve Sabol is president of NFL Films, founded in 1964 by his father, Ed. (Ed Sabol is a finalist this year for the Hall of Fame, whose 2011 class will be announced on Saturday.) Steve Sabol was assigned to film off-field action on the sideline for the first Super Bowl in January 1967, between Green Bay and Kansas City.

“I don’t remember ever seeing any Packers cheerleaders or Chiefs cheerleaders on the sideline,” Sabol said. “That’s not to say they weren’t there, but it was my job to shoot anything like that. And I never saw any.”

Sabol vaguely recalls cheerleaders at Super Bowl II between Green Bay and Oakland, perhaps from the Raiders or a local squad from Miami, where the game was held, unaffiliated with either team.

“Super Bowl III, between the Jets and Colts, I know the Colts had cheerleaders,” Sabol said. And both the Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings had them at Super Bowl IV, he said. Every Super Bowl has had at least once squad since.

That streak will end on Sunday.

“It’s weird, for this site, not to have cheerleaders,” Sabol said. “Because the Dallas cheerleaders are the most famous cheerleaders in the N.F.L.”

Their studio at Cowboys’ headquarters is about 100 feet long and 40 feet wide, with a hardwood floor and mirrors lining two sides. Another wall holds life-sized posters of the cheerleaders, in their familiar uniform of cowboy boots, short white shorts, low-cut blue blouses and fringed vests.

A large banner hangs as a sort of cheerleaders’ creed; “Promise to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true,” one pronouncement reads. A scale stands at the door. An adjacent office is filled with posters of the cheerleaders in bikinis, shots used for the squad’s popular calendar.

On Thursday afternoon, 15 cheerleaders from the team’s “show group,” an elite part of the 34-member squad, practiced a routine with a hip-hop dance troupe. They will perform together at a party on Saturday night at the House of Blues.

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will make several appearances outside Cowboys Stadium, performing for fans and sponsors before the game.

But inside their home, something unusual will occur. The hubbub of the Super Bowl sideline will not include cheerleaders.

In Texas, of all places.

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!”