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Meet the Virginia Destroyers’ cheerleaders

By Denise Watson Batts
The Virginian-Pilot
August 22, 2011

The excitement at this Thursday night practice is reaching the feverish pitch of a score-tied, seconds-left Super Bowl: The cheerleaders of the UFL’s Virginia Destroyers are about to get their uniforms.

Only the day before, after a month’s delay to the start of the season, the football league had announced the date of the team’s first game.

The cheerleaders realize their five months of practicing finally will meet the turf during home games at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

Then one of the squad’s coaches walks through the tangle of dancers and quiets them with even better news.

“Kim is on her way,” she says.

A couple of dancers gasp, and they all break into cheers. Kimberly Vaughn, their director, lost her husband five days earlier when a helicopter carrying Navy SEALs crashed in Afghanistan.

In the time since, the women had respected Vaughn’s space and privacy but couldn’t resist doing what they do best – offering support. So they rallied electronically, offering email messages and posting prayers on Facebook.

Minutes later, Vaughn walks into the Virginia Beach dance studio with some close friends, toting her 8-week-old daughter and the box of uniforms. The cheerleaders cluster around her.

Vaughn bursts into tears and the squad members try to hold back theirs.

“I really wanted to be here,” Vaughn says. “It really makes me feel better to be here.”

Whether or not the Destroyers ever line up for their first kickoff, whether or not the first fans get cozy in their seats, whether or not the troubled season has a chance to once again stall, this much is clear:

These cheerleaders have already become – to use a football term – their own special team.

Getting to this point has taken days of dance practice, building stamina for long games, and too many pulled muscles to count.

While much of the attention of the past few months has gone to the United Football League and whether there would even be a third season, the women of the cheerleading-dance squad have kept their booty shorts in place and kept on high-kicking.

Many of them feel they have something to prove. They are moms and wives, educators, businesswomen, college students studying for master’s and doctoral degrees. They have the job of spreading the word and stoking enthusiasm about the new team, but they also want people to know they are more than long legs and manicured fingernails.

Tia Godwin, 29, grew up in Detroit and danced throughout elementary, middle and high school. She learned about hard work from her mom, a single woman who worked two jobs to send Godwin to private school.

“I’ve always gotten my drive from people telling me I could not do something,” she said.

Godwin was one of a handful of minority students in her Catholic high school and always thought the wealthier students attracted the eyes of teachers. Then during her junior year, she took an accounting course, studied hard and earned a perfect A. People started paying attention to her brain.

She came to the area and earned two degrees at Hampton University, and she is now a senior consultant with the accounting firm Deloitte, specializing in audit and enterprise risk services. She’s finishing her doctorate in business administration. Then she’ll apply to law school; Harvard and Yale are at the top of her list.

Godwin was used to staying up late to finish client reports and schoolwork when she heard about the cheerleading tryouts. Once she implanted the idea in her head, she couldn’t say no, even if it meant later nights.

“Anything I would regret not doing I have to do,” Godwin said.

She was named to the squad in early April, after a rigorous tryout that brought about 40 finalists to a packed food court at MacArthur Center.

Godwin is now part of the squad of 30 women who live in all corners of Hampton Roads.

Mara VanAlstine was involved in gymnastics and cheerleading while growing up in St. Marys, Pa. Since moving to Virginia a few years ago, she has concentrated more on working out and wellness, and she regularly participates in “figure” competitions, a blend of bodybuilding and fitness.

When she heard about the Destroyer auditions, the idea reminded her how much she missed performing, so she tried out and made the team. But she wants the audience to see more than a pretty face when she’s onstage.

VanAlstine is an elementary school teacher who soon will begin a master’s program to go into counseling. In the classroom, she sees how negative images can damage young girls’ self-esteem.

Girls tend to be the ones at the cheerleaders’ public appearances who watch their every move, who look up at them – and to them.

“I definitely see myself as a role model,” said Van-Alstine, 29. “I want them to see where I am and to see what I’m capable of doing, and being around them lets them know they can be anything they want to be.”

Outsiders sometimes look at Van-Alstine, Godwin and their squad mates and wonder why professional women would want to take on the cheerleader stereotype.

The women don’t see it that way. Cheering requires fitness – the women are required to attend a gym regularly – and the routines require dance skills.

The role also taps into the women’s love of both dance and sports, and it lets them be part of something bigger than themselves.

Because some people don’t understand the attraction, the women find they are often their own best cheerleaders.

“We each have cheer buddies, and mine, matter of fact, works for one of my competitors,” Godwin said. “But it’s great to have someone who understands the struggles you go through.”

The cheerleaders take part in two three-hour practices a week, but they discovered early on that wasn’t enough. They started meeting in between cooking dinners and finishing laundry.

They’ve gone out to eat together, planned birthday parties for each other and joined hip-hop classes together to stay fit.

They celebrate their progress. They ask one another how a class or job is going. They clap at practice when the kicks that were waist-high in April now stretch to their shoulders. Head flicks are more natural, hip rolls less stilted.

At the recent Thursday practice where they’re getting their uniforms, Van-Alstine and the other women are in deep stretches on the dance floor, warming up to Rihanna’s “S&M.”

VanAlstine sits with legs spread in a wide V, her forehead almost touching the floor’s wooden surface. She peeks under her arm and sees a cheermate trying unsuccessfully to stretch herself forward.

Without a word, Van-Alstine reaches back, grabs her friend’s hand and pulls her the rest of the way.

It’s now two days later, and about 25 cheerleaders have returned to the site of their tryouts, MacArthur Center, this time wearing white Destroyer jerseys and black dance pants.

It’s Aug. 13 – a Saturday that was to have been the date of the first game of the season. The Destroyers had been set to play the Hartford Colonials, but the Connecticut team folded the week before. The league is down to four teams, and the season’s launch is now planned for Sept. 15.

Several of the women say the squad will continue to perform if the season is suspended again. They’ve become the region’s unofficial cheerleading group and have various gigs scheduled through the summer and fall. This gathering at the mall’s first-floor center court is a back-to-school rally.

About 200 onlookers line the upstairs railings and mill about the T-shaped stage and vendors’ booths. League officials introduce some players.

It is a pep rally in serious need of some pep. The players’ voices get lost in the vacuum of the mall, and shoppers are busy picking up freebies lining the area.

“We have a football team now?” a woman asks another as they check out the free bottles of vitamin water on a table.

“I guess,” the other says, shrugging, as she tugs the hand of a little girl toward stores, away from the rally.

The little girl, though, glances back at the group of eight cheerleaders climbing the stage with blue pompoms that shimmer as they move.

The first notes of Prince’s “Kiss” start thumping, and the cheerleaders start swinging their hips and arms, tossing their heads and working up a sweat, trying desperately to pump up the crowd.

A few onlookers tap their flip-flops to the beat.

Then in the back, near the Yankee Candle store, shouts of “Let’s go, ladies!” and “Work it, Whitney!” and a string of “Woo-woos!” drown out Prince.

It’s a small knot of other Destroyer cheerleaders, shaking their pompoms, doing what they do best: cheering on their friends.

Tough luck for Killingworth’s Camille Kostek, Hartford Colonials cheerleaders

By JOE PELLETIER
Assistant Sports Editor

8/18/2011

MIDDLETOWN – One week removed from the announcement that the Hartford Colonials would not have a season this year, most of the players have already found another home. The UFL held a dispersement draft last week that sent most Colonials to another one of the four franchises, and other free agents (like former UConn running back Andre Dixon) were signed after that.

For the Colonials cheerleaders, though, contraction of the Hartford franchise meant an abrupt end to their season. No games. No practices. No time in front of 14,000 fans at Rentschler Field.

Killingworth’s Camille Kostek, 19, was one of those cheerleaders, and got the email from Colonials cheerleading coach Brittany Bonchuk just before the formal announcement on Aug. 10.

“My heart sunk,” Kostek said. “I got a text from one of my friends, and I was already sick to my stomach when I opened the email.”

Rumblings of reducing the struggling UFL to four, not five, teams had been in the air for a few months. Kostek and teammates, though, hadn’t been given any word until the contraction announcement.

“I really had no idea,” said Kostek, a rising sophomore at Eastern Connecticut State University. “We had learned things about the UFL and the Colonials players, but as far as financial things, we had no idea.”

The timing was tough for the cheerleaders, who had their professional photoshoot the week before. The announcement came only days after their official headshots and portraits went up on Facebook. [click here]

Several supporters of the “Hartford Colonials Cheerleaders” group (which has 1,190 members) wrote posts of thanks and sorrow on the group wall.

“So sorry to all of you that your dreams and hard work end like this,” Darien’s Doug Cooke wrote. “To the veterans from last year – thanks for some awesome memories. To the new girls on the squad and Brittany – sorry you won’t have your chance to shine this season. Good luck to all in whatever the future may bring.”

On Aug. 11, the day after the announcement, more squad pictures went up on the page.

“Ugh! Guys, you are all so beautiful….it makes me wanna cry,” wrote cheerleader Jessica Bella. “ I feel so happy to have met all you beautiful, talented, fun loving women. Xoxo.”

The squad practice each Monday and Thursday this summer at Goodwin College (East Hartford), and even had a promotional event right outside of Rentschler Field, the Colonials former home, on Aug. 7.

“We were all there, all glammed up,” Kostek said. “It was almost like a taste of glory. This was our home field. We were right there.”

Kostek took it hard (“I’m surprised I haven’t cried yet,” she said wistfully during the interview), especially because this was her first professional cheerleading squad. She had previously tried out to be a Patriots cheerleader and Celtics dancer to no avail.

Hope is not entirely lost for Colonials cheerleaders – UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue said he has not closed the door on the Hartford franchise: “(We) will review the viability of returning to the city at the end of this season.”

And if they do, Kostek said she and her teammates would be ready to go.

“One hundred percent,” she said.er the announcement, more squad pictures went up on the page.

Sad News

From UFL-Football.com:

Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, husband of Virginia Destroyers Cheerleading/Dance Team Director Kimberly Vaughn, was one of 30 American service members who died when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents Saturday in Afghanistan.

The crash, which also took the lives of eight Afghans, was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the war in Afghanistan.

“I am saddened to hear that Aaron Vaughn, the husband of Virginia Destroyers Cheerleader Director Kimberly Vaughn, was among the Navy SEALs killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Saturday,” said United Football League Commissioner Michael Huyghue. “The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the United Football League go out to the Vaughn family and to the Virginia community at this difficult time.”

“It’s a very tragic, tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kimberly and her entire family,” said Destroyers Head Coach/General Manager Marty Schottenheimer. “It’s very difficult to imagine the magnitude of this loss and how this affects families and extended families. Certainly, Kimberly is part of our Destroyers family. Again, our prayers are with Kimberly and all the families who lost loved ones.”

For more on Aaron Vaughn and other American service members who died on Saturday, the following Web links are provided:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44056945/ns/today-today_people/t/navy-seals-widow-we-were-blessed-be-together/

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/08/07/afghanistan.fatality/index.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/afghanistan/2011-08-07-Afghanistan-Navy-SEALS-chopper-crash_n.htm

http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/6937311-418/loved-ones-remember-30-fallen-troops.html

The Virginia Destroyers Fan Club is taking small donations to provide a floral arrangement and a donation in Kimberly’s name to a foundation of her choosing. We are taking Paypal donations for the next 24 hours in case anyone would like to make a small donation. The Paypal email is VirginiaUFL@aol.com

Keep on striving: Former Six Rivers cheerleader Gaube now on 49ers Gold Rush

Neil Tarpey
The Times-Standard
07/04/2011

She’s gone from youth football to the National Football League.

Ali Gaube, a graduate of Winship Junior High and Eureka High School, has earned a spot on the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush, the professional cheerleaders squad.

How did Gaube feel when she learned she had been selected?

”I can’t even describe it. I had so many things going through my mind. I feel very, very lucky,” said Gaube.

Quite a positive accomplishment for a persistent, hard-working 23-year-old college student who once had no friends.

”I moved to Eureka from Washington in the fifth grade and had no friends,” said Gaube. “A lot of the girls were doing cheerleading for Six Rivers Youth Football. I tried it, and I loved it.”

She fondly recalled the fun of traveling with the cheerleading team on their July or August bus trips to cheerleaders’ camps in Davis.

”It was a good way to bond with the team, singing on the bus, and then learning and practicing new routines,” said Gaube.

Gaube credits her Humboldt County cheerleader coaches — Star Blackburn, Teri Leavitt, Brenda Bronson and Teresa Creech, her head coach — for their encouragement during her years as a cheerleader for youth football, middle school, Eureka High School and competitive squads.

She moved away to attend Sacramento State, where she is working on her degree in special education so that she can teach and work with young children.

While she was in Sacramento, Gaube tried out for the cheerleaders team for the Sacramento Cobras, a semi-professional football team. Not only did Gaube earn a spot on the 42-member team, but the other women voted her as their captain.

Then it was on to the Lady Lions, the cheerleading squad for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.

While Gaube was a member of the Lady Lions, she had opportunities to volunteer in the community.

For example, she joined four other cheerleaders and several football players and went to the Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento, where they met with about 30 children on the burn victims unit.

”It was such an emotional experience,” said Gaube. “I feel very blessed.”

Setting her sights on the Gold Rush, Gaube tried out.

She didn’t make it. Two years in a row.

But rather than give up, she listened to the judges’ feedback.

”They told me, ‘Keep going, keep going, we know you can do this at the professional level,’” said Gaube.

She began working harder, not only improving her endurance but also her public speaking skills.

This year she joined the group of 400 women trying out for the 32 spots on the Gold Rush. Even the members of last year’s squad have to try out for this year’s team.

The large group was divided up, and the candidates had to quickly learn a new choreographed dance routine — to Usher’s song “More” — and then, in the preliminary auditions phase, perform that routine with confidence in front of a panel of judges.

At the end of the first day’s preliminary auditions, the group was cut down to 75.

The remaining candidates faced the challenge of arranging time off from school or work in order to participate in a full week of tryouts from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Among the activities were not just learning and performing, in order to demonstrate their dancing abilities and showmanship, but also interviews — to see how each person received feedback — and a final audition.

What was Gaube’s biggest challenge during the week of tryouts?

”I’d say it was exuding confidence,” said Gaube. “Instead of thinking, ‘She’s a better dancer than me,’ I kept telling myself, ‘If they want me, I just have to be myself.’”

Gaube’s hard work and belief in herself paid off. The day after final auditions, she went to the team’s website (www.49ers.com/gold-rush) and saw her photo included with the other 31 team members.

After two years of trying out but not making the Gold Rush, the third time was a charm.

”That’s exactly what I was hoping for,” said Gaube.

The Gold Rush practice one day a week, six hours each session, in order to accommodate the reality that so many of its members commute and attend school or have jobs.

Gaube intends to enjoy her time with the Gold Rush, especially because, “There’s no guarantee that I’ll make it back next year.”

This summer, besides working out with the team and its coaches, Gaube is taking online college courses.

Earning a spot on a NFL cheerleading team, and pursuing her degree from Sac State, has taught Gaube an important lesson.

”If you dream big and keep on striving for what you want, and keep on going, you can get what you want,” said Gaube.

Finals Set For Selecting The 2011 Hartford Colonials Cheerleading Team

18 finalists chosen at second round of auditions Saturday at the State Armory

The process of selecting the 2011 Hartford Colonials cheerleading team is down to the final round, and the competition and dancing will heat up as a group of talented and glamorous women compete for a spot on this year’s squad.

The second round of preliminary auditions, held Saturday at the State Armory in Hartford, saw 18 ladies advance to the finals May 21 at Black Bear Saloon in downtown Hartford from 4-7 p.m. They will be joined by 19 finalists from the first round and the 2010 cheerleading captains, who were exempt from auditions.

“These women are going to come back looking great and all glammed-up for the finals. It’s going to be a wonderful show,” Colonials cheerleading director Brittany Bonchuk said. “We hope people will come down to the Black Bear Saloon on May 21 to support these ladies as they compete for a spot on the 2011 Colonials cheerleading team.”

The finalists will perform two dances. The first performance will be the choreographed routine they performed in pairs at the auditions. The second will be a solo performance. The finalists will be evaluated on physical appearance, dance performance and ability, and overall appeal in front of Bonchuk and a panel of judges that will include Hartford Courant Java columnist and blogger MaryEllen Fillo, the popular “About Town” writer.

The judges at Saturday’s audition were New England Patriots cheerleader alums Sandra Smyly and Alyssa Tosoni, and professional dance instructor Jenna Martire.

“I love that we had so many girls with big smiles on their faces and were really eager to learn the dance,” Smyly said. “I think the final product is going to be a great team with a lot of really nice girls who also love to dance and will love supporting the UFL.

“It’s hard to learn a dance on the spot. Even when they might have had a little blooper in their dance, they got past it and put a little smile on their face, maybe a cute wink or something to show they can pick it right back up again. It’s a lot about showmanship, as well as your dance ability, and being able to move on from a small mistake. It’s just as good as doing the dance perfectly with no smile on your face.”

There will be some familiar faces at the finals. About a dozen of the finalists were on the 2010 Colonials cheerleading team.

“It was very energizing, not stressful at all. I had a lot of fun,” said Carissa, a member of the 2010 squad who qualified for the finals at Saturday’s audition. “I think there’s going to be a great group of girls this year and I’m very excited.”

The cheerleading squad will perform at Colonials home games and serve as ambassadors for the team by making community appearances throughout the year.

“Once again we’d like to give a big thank you to the Connecticut National Guard for providing us with this space for the second round of auditions,” Bonchuk said. “The State Armory was a great big venue and we were really able to utilize it well.”

Hartford Colonials Cheerleader Auditions: Round Two

Hartford Colonials Cheerleader Director Brittany Bonchuk at the April 30 auditions in Southington

Hartford Colonials Cheerleader Director Brittany Bonchuk at the April 30 auditions in Southington

The second round of auditions for the 2011 Hartford Colonials cheerleading squad is Saturday, May 7, at the Hartford State Armory on 360 Broad St. Registration starts at 8 a.m. with auditions to follow. The event is open to the public.

Individuals must be female and at least 18 years of age by May 21, and submit a non-returnable recent photograph and updated resume. Participants should wear workout attire and sneakers or dance shoes. Hair and makeup should be performance-ready. A $15 non-refundable registration fee is required or individuals can pre-register for $10 at www.hartfordcolonials.com.

Dancers and cheerleaders will learn a choreographed routine to be performed for a panel of judges and Colonials cheerleader director Brittany Bonchuk. Participants will be evaluated on physical appearance, dance performance and ability, and overall appeal. Anyone chosen will advance to the finals May 21, joining 19 women from the first round of auditions April 30 in Southington. The cheerleading team will consist of 32 members.

Hartford Colonials Cheerleader Auditions at CT National Guard Armory

2011 Patriots Pro Bowl Cheerleader at Colonials Cheerleader Director Brittany Bonchuk

2011 Patriots Pro Bowl Cheerleader at Colonials Cheerleader Director Brittany Bonchuk

19 advance to finals; second round of auditions is May 7 in Hartford

A spacious room at the Connecticut National Guard armory in Southington was deployed as a dance stage for a group of energetic ladies on Saturday, April 30, as the first round of preliminary auditions were held for the 2011 Hartford Colonials cheerleading squad.

“We’re really appreciative to the military and Connecticut National Guard for providing us with a facility and allowing us to be here today,” said Colonials cheerleader director Brittany Bonchuk, who visited U.S. troops overseas in 2009 as a New England Patriots Cheerleader.

Bonchuk, a Griswold, CT native, and a panel of five judges evaluated the participants on physical appearance, dance performance and ability, and overall appeal. Each had to perform a 1-minute dance routine that was filmed by Colonials cheerleader assistant director Laura Altieri.

At the conclusion of the auditions, 19 women were informed they had advanced to the finals on May 21. A second round of auditions will be held May 7 at the State Armory in Hartford. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with auditions to follow. A $15 non-refundable registration fee is required for both sessions. Participants can pre-register for $10 on-line at www.hartfordcolonials.com.

“I was pretty impressed with the people who turned out for the auditions today,” Bonchuk said Saturday. “A lot of really excited women came out, as well as some big Colonials fans. I hope our turnout next week will be a little bit better, but those who came out today were really talented. I’m really excited to see what next week will bring, and we’ll get rolling from there. We have a good start.”

The day started with a brief warm-up period, followed by Bonchuk teaching a dance routine the participants would have to perform for their audition. After the judges were introduced, the competition began.

Performing in pairs, the women did a 60-second dance routine to “On The Floor” by Jennifer Lopez and featuring rapper Pitbull. The first 45-50 seconds was the routine they were taught and the final 15 seconds was freestyle.

“I think it went really well,” said judge Alyssa Ziemba, a Boston Celtics dancer. “We were commenting the girls had so much energy. We enjoyed it.”

Seven cheerleaders from the 2010 squad participated in Saturday’s audition. More are expected at the May 7th auditions in Hartford.

The cheerleader squad will consist of 32 members who will perform at the Colonials home games this season and make promotional appearances in the community.

“It was a fun experience,” Ashley Abate said. “The thrill of going out on the field for the first time, everybody was excited. By the end of the season, we had our own fans. I would recommend everybody to try out. You make friends and it was a lot of fun.”

Bonchuk will discuss the cheerleading auditions on two television shows in the next week. She will appear on the FOX CT morning show Wednesday along with three cheerleaders. On Thursday, she’ll be a guest on Channel 3’s “Better Connecticut” with co-hosts Kara Sundlun and Scot Haney.

Hartford Colonials to Hold Open Auditions for 2011 Cheerleading Team

Preliminary tryouts to be held April 30 in Southington and May 7 in Hartford

The Hartford Colonials of the United Football League are seeking dancers and cheerleaders who are interested in auditioning for the 2011 cheerleading team.

Hartford Colonials Cheerleaders

There will be two rounds of preliminary auditions for the 32-member squad. The first audition will be held April 30 at the Southington Armory (590 Woodruff St, Southington). Registration begins promptly at 8 a.m. with auditions scheduled to start at 9. The second round is May 7 at the Hartford State Armory (360 Broad St., Hartford). Registration begins at 8 a.m. with auditions to follow. A $15 non-refundable registration fee is required for both sessions. Participants can pre-register for $10 on-line at www.hartfordcolonials.com.

Individuals must be 18 years of age or older by May 21 and submit a non-returnable recent photograph and updated resume. Participants should wear workout attire and sneakers or dance shoes. Hair and makeup should be performance-ready.

The Colonials cheerleaders will perform at all four home games, starting in August, and serve as team ambassadors throughout the season.

“For anyone who’s a fan of football and enjoys performance, this is a great opportunity,” said Colonials cheerleader director Brittany Bonchuk. “I’m excited at the chance to create a diverse squad of talented and beautiful women who will entertain Colonials fans this season.”

Both audition sessions are open to the public. For more information, email Brittany.Bonchuk@ufl-football.com.

Omaha Nighthawks Invite Fans to Attend Cheerleader Finals at the Nebraska Furniture Mart

They are the year-round face of the franchise and favorites of the fans of the United Football League and this coming weekend the search for the Omaha Nighthawks cheerleading class of 2011 reaches its climax.

The Nighthawks will hold the team’s cheerleading tryouts final at the Nebraska Furniture Mart at 11am on Saturday, April 23 as a group 34 finalists compete for a spot on the 2011 Omaha Nighthawks Cheer squad. The tryouts will be held center stage in the Mega Mart Building.

The road to the finals kicked off back in early March when prep classes and a three-day preliminary tryouts put the cheerleader hopefuls through their paces and the group was narrowed down to the finalists – nineteen of which were on the 2010 Nighthawks squad.

“I can’t describe how good these girls are,” Shan Stavropoulous, the Omaha Nighthawks cheerleading / dance Director said of the finalists. “They were not only super-talented, but all of them are beautiful and were sweet to each other. Everybody gelled and clicked. All 34 are phenomenal. I wish I could to take them all for the team.”

The final tryouts will feature the finalists split up into groups of four for dance “A” and another group of two for dance “B” which they can rehearse, manipulate and choreograph to increase skill difficulty and get creative with group costuming. The candidates will also learn an opening number and perform altogether.

Media and fans are welcome to attend the final tryouts at the Nebraska Furniture Mart. Fans will not only get the opportunity to meet the 2011 Omaha Nighthawks cheerleaders, but can also participate in trivia contests and receive gift cards and Nighthawks gifts.

Two people among the judging panel are Andrea Leesley and Ali Schwalb. Lessley is a native of Omaha and has many years of dance experience including the Regina Williams Dance Company and on the television shows “The Parkers” and “The Tracy Morgan Show.” She currently is head coach of Papillion La Vista South Dance Team. Schwalb is a recent Saint Louis University graduate and is currently the Millard West Varsity Dance Team Assistant Coach and Omaha Nighthawks Assistant Dance Coach.

Each of the five UFL franchises in Hartford, Las Vegas, Omaha, Sacramento and Virginia are building dance teams who will take part in community appearances, represent their teams during the offseason, and of course wow fans in the stadium on game day.

Hartford Colonials Cheerleader Auditions Start April 30th

[Hartford Colonial Cheerleaders]

Brittany Bonchuk Named Hartford Colonials Cheer Director

Brittany Bonchuk, a former New England Patriots Cheerleader, has been named the Hartford Colonials Cheerleader Director for the 2011 United Football League season.

Bonchuk was a member of the Patriots cheerleading squad the last three years, the maximum number allowed by the team, and she served as a line captain during her last two seasons. She performed at the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii, joining one cheerleader from each NFL team. She made numerous community appearances and served as a global ambassador for the Patriots cheerleaders, traveling to eight countries in support of U.S. troops stationed overseas.

Bonchuk, a native of Griswold, CT., was head coach of the Central Connecticut State University dance team and a cheerleader at CCSU. She has danced professionally for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, and the arena football team Mohegan Wolves. “As a huge New England sports fan, I’m beyond excited to have the UFL in Connecticut, especially now that I have become a part of the Hartford Colonials team,” Bonchuk said.

Her dance moves haven’t been limited to stadiums, arenas and college gymnasiums. Bonchuk performed at concerts that featured Grammy Award-winning band Rascal Flatts and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Neil Young, and she was featured in the off-Broadway production of “Dreams Do Travel: A Hip Hop Musical.” She also did choreography work on the set of the movie “Grown Ups” starring Adam Sandler, and was a case model for Howie Mandel’s “Deal or No Deal” tour.

Preliminary auditions for the Colonials cheerleading squad are scheduled for April 30 in Southington and May 7 in Hartford at the state armories in those cities. Registration for both auditions is 8 a.m.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing the most talented performers to Rentschler Field to entertain Colonials fans,” Bonchuk said. “My goal is to take the Colonials cheerleading program to the next level, and I’m confident that it’s going to be a fantastic year in Hartford!”

Virginia Destroyers Cheerleading Finals

Sacramento Mountain Lions Dance Team Finals Will be Open to the Public

The Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League will hold their final cheerleading auditions at Dream Ultra Lounge (908 15th St., Sacramento, Ca. 95814) on Friday, April 1.

The auditions will begin at 6 p.m. while the doors will open to the public at 5:30 p.m. KHTK radio personalities Don Geronimo and Carmichael Dave will serve as the evening’s MC’s for the event.

Fifty-three women will be competing for the 32 spots on the Lady Lions 2011 cheerleading squad. This group of ladies qualified for the finals by being among the top performers at one of two preliminary auditions. Nineteen veterans from last year’s team received a pass through the preliminary round, but will have to compete with the rest of the finalists to keep their spots at these final auditions.

You can visit www.facebook.com/SacramentoMountainLions for a picture and short bio of all 53 potential Lady Lions.

The squad of 32 will be picked on April 1 following the auditions.

“I am so impressed with the quality of girls that are in the finals – it’s going to be a really tough audition,” said Mountain Lions Cheer and Dance Team Director Lindsay Shoemaker. “Any of them can make it. We have about 10 girls hovering around the final three spots – taking into account their preliminary audition and interview scores.”

The Lady Lions will perform at all four Mountain Lion home games this fall and will serve as ambassadors for the organization throughout the season.

“The preliminaries were closed but the finals are open to the public and we are looking for audience participation in helping us choose the team,” Shoemaker said. “So come on out and cheer on your favorites.”

Audition Alert: Sacramento Mountain Lions Cheerleader Auditions Saturday

The 2011 Sacramento Mountain Lions cheerleader auditions are this Saturday and if you have the talent and the desire, the Mountain Lions are looking for you.

Preliminary Auditions
Saturday, March 12, 2011; Registration begins at 11:00 am
Sacramento Youth Football Training Center
5845 Dry Creek Road
Rio Linda, CA

To sign up for the auditions, please visit the Sacramento Mountain Lions web site.

To register for either the February 26 or March 12 Preliminary Audition please complete and print out an application.  Please include the audition fee of $25 as either cash, check or money order made out to the Sacramento Mountain Lions.  This fee is to cover audition costs and will not be returned.

Audition FAQs

What Are You Looking For?

We are looking for 32 Lady Lions with a passion for football. Essentially we need physically fit, attractive and confident young women with great personalities who love to interact with fans. Previous dance/cheer experience is a plus.

What Should I Bring To the Tryout?

Participants need to bring a non-returnable resume and headshot. Because the first audition is a potentially long day, performers should bring plenty of snacks, water, towel, curling/flat irons, and make-up to re-fresh throughout the day.  A state-issued Driver License, Identification Card or Passport.

What Should I Wear To the Tryout?

Dress should consist of a half top (sports bra, crop top) and shorts (hot shorts, dance trunks or briefs preferred, stomach must show) with dance or non-marking sole tennis shoes. Flesh colored nylons or dance tights are required!  Keep in mind, the judges will want to see what you would look like in the Lady Lions Uniform.

A special audition outfit is not required, but if you would like to order a costume or see examples of what to wear you may go to our Facebook page or visit:

www.angelakingdesigns.com, www.dadesignsdancewear.com, www.thelineup.com.

How Should I Wear My Make-Up?

Make-up should be worn.  We recommend stage make-up in shades that compliment you.  The Lady Lions wear a red lipstick in uniform; we highly encourage candidates to do the same at auditions.

How Should I Wear My Hair?

Hair should be worn down in a current hairstyle, make sure it is not in your face. Hair does not need to be your natural color, but no extreme colors like red, blue, purple etc.

What If I Have a Tattoo?

If a tattoo is visible in your audition attire, please cover it with makeup.  Members of the Lady Lions cover all tattoos visible when interacting with fans and on game day.
What About Jewelry?

Lady Lions are allowed to wear one-stud in each ear and an engagement and/or wedding band. No other jewelry is allowed.
Please take all visible piercings out before auditions. This includes tongue rings and belly button rings.

What Should I Not Bring?

Family, friends and fans. The preliminary audition is closed and limited to participants only. The finals are open to the public.

What Will The Audition Process Be?

Preliminary auditions will be a multi-step process.  Candidates will start the day with a short warm-up.  A short across-the-floor routine will be taught and candidates will perform in group of 2.  If needed, judges will deliberate and the Director will announce the numbers of those moving on to the next round.

Candidates will then learn a short dance routine that is similar to what Lady Lions perform on game days.  Candidates will be given a short amount of time to go-over the routine and then broken up in groups of 2.  When it is a candidate’s turn, she will give a short speech about herself and then perform the dance routine twice in front of the judges.  After all candidates have auditioned the judges will deliberate and the Director will announce the numbers of those who are Finalist.

Finalist will receive information regarding the Final auditions at the end of Prelims.

Is there a minimum/maximum age limit?

You must be 18 by June 1, 2011. There is not a maximum age for tryouts

Cheerleading Director Sought for Hartford Colonials

Hartford Colonials Cheerleaders

The Hartford Colonials of the United Football League are searching for a Cheerleader Director.

Candidates will have:

Professional or collegiate coaching experience or participation.
Experience with choreography.
The ability to handle the management of a cheerleading team, appearances and be able to run all practices and game day operations relating to the cheerleaders.

At the time of the interview candidates will need to have a headshot, resume, three references and a video reel showing some of their choreography.

All interested candidates can forward their resume and information to Jeremy Lisch at Jeremy.lisch@ufl-football.com