SI.com: Cheerleaders of the CFL

Sports Illustrated: With the 2015 Canadian Football League in full stride in early August, here are some photos of the league’s cheerleaders, both past and present. [Click here] to check out the gallery.

SI 2015 BC Lion

Quick – Someone Get Roger Godell on the Phone

That’s a photo from last Sunday’s Grey Cup, the championship game for the Canadian Football League. Every Grey Cup features cheerleaders from all the CFL teams. They perform at events leading up to the game and the game itself. How awesome would it be if the NFL brought in all their cheerleading squads for the Super Bowl?

  • BC FeLions
  • Calgary Stampeders Outriders
  • Edmonton Eskimos Cheer Team
  • Hamilton Ti-Cats Cheerleaders
  • Montreal Alouttes Cheerleaders
  • Saskatchewan Rider Cheer Team
  • Toronto Argos Cheerleaders
  • Winnipeg Blue Bomber Cheer Team
  • Men welcome on new Bombers cheer team

    By James Turner
    Winnipeg Sun
    April 22, 2012

    Half-time at Winnipeg Blue Bombers home games is about to get a whole lot more dramatic.

    And, at least one-third more masculine.

    That was evident Sunday as tryouts for the CFL team’s all-new co-ed cheer squad looks to ramp up its athleticism and showmanship by adding gymnastics, physical stunts and yes, men, into the mix.

    In doing so, the Blue and Gold becomes the third CFL team after Saskatchewan and Edmonton to add athletic stunts to complement the talents of on-field dancers.

    “Edmonton has set the bar,” said Colinne Dowbyhuz, events services manager for the Bombers.

    The team has retired the Blue Lightning moniker long employed by its former all-woman cheerleading squad. as the new co-ed team comes together, said Dowbyhuz.

    “Blue Lightning is too feminine,” she said.

    For now, the new squad has been dubbed the Blue Bombers Cheer Team, but that’s subject to change, said Dowbyhuz.

    Sunday, nearly 100 people — including a decent number of guys — turned out to challenge for 32 available spots on the cheer squad, which is to include 12 men, Dowbyhuz said.

    Dave Roncadin, 33, was one of the hopefuls. A long-time competitive cheerleading enthusiast, he said the perception of the sport has come a long way over time.

    “It’s always been related to girls shaking pom-poms,” Roncadin said. “But the sport has come so much further with the stunting and high-flying acrobatics with the girls.”

    To put it another way: Roncadin and his pals used to have to look to YouTube videos to learn how to perform stunts because there was no instruction available.

    “Now there’s classes and clinics — opportunities,” he said.

    The team’s members will be announced at a later date.

    Canadian team changes format

    Bombers’ cheerleaders go co-ed
    By Jim Bender
    Winnipeg Sun
    March 27, 2012

    The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Blue Lightning Dance team is undergoing a transformation to a co-ed and stunt team for the 2012 season, the CFL club announced Tuesday.

    The new team will incorporate a high level of athletic stunts into the routines to complement the on-field dancers.

    The Bombers have hired coaches who are currently working with the University of Manitoba Bisons cheer team. They bring with them a number of years of experience in co-ed stunting at a national level. They have also produced teams that have travelled and performed throughout North America.

    “The current team has always been highly entertaining for fans and this change inevitably will bring in a different level of athleticism and added entertainment value to game days,” said a team release.

    Tryouts for the 2012 team will take place at the McPhillips Station Casino in the Upper Deck Sports Bar on April 22. Registration will begin at noon and participants must be 18 years old to try out. Tryouts will be open to the public. However, everyone must be at least 18 to attend.

    [Click here for audition details]

    A blast from the Canadian past

    Blue & Golden girls: Original Bomberettes will be back on the field to perform at halftime during Saturday’s game

    Donna Fiala leads a rehearsal of Bomberettes who will relive their glory days from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in a performance at Saturday’s alumni game.

    By: Alexandra Paul
    Winnipeg Free Press
    10/21/2011

    Barb Sloggett shows she hasn’t lost her touch when it comes to baton-twirling.

    It seems once a Bomberette, always a Bomberette.

    More than 100 women, including some who last raised a pompom in the 1950s and 1960s, will dance and cheer once again for their favourite team at this weekend’s alumni game.

    The Blue Lightning, the Bombers’ current cheering squad, invited the original Bomberettes back to perform — and they answered by the dozens.

    On Saturday, the current cheerleading squad for the Blue Bombers will clear the field for 129 of the former cheerleaders at halftime during the Bombers’ game against the Montreal Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium.

    “Yes, we are very pleased with the response!” Stacey Stone, head coach of the Blue Lightning Dance Team, said in an email.

    “I’m so excited. I can’t even speak,” said Linda Reichert, who was a Bomberette in the 1970s. Reichert works in the Winnipeg Free Press marketing department.

    The response underscores something special and innocent about the early squads.

    Postwar boosterism of the 1950s created the Bomberettes in the first place. These women raised families of fans, children and grandchildren and set the course for generations of season-ticket holders. They made lifelong friends of fellow squad members, raised money for charity and even ice-skated with torches of real fire every March of Dimes, an Easter Seals fundraiser.

    The Bomberettes appeared at many events in Winnipeg including the 1975 Schmockey Night, a variety show that raised money for charity

    They performed with the RCMP musical ride.

    Good memories explain part of the fervour, said several who recalled their time with the Bomberettes as some of the best days of their lives.

    Bomberettes from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s have been practising under their original coach, Donna Fiala.

    At 80, Fiala still sports the lithe figure she had in the 1950s when she first led the Bomberettes as coach. Her daughters, who were child mascots with the squad — they are returning, too — smiled as one returning member observed Fiala hadn’t gained an ounce since her publicity stills shot 60 years ago. Their mother still wears the same dress, too, they said, laughing.

    Fiala is the official record-keeper for the Bomberettes’ history; her collection of snapshots, publicity stills, programs and news clippings account for probably the most comprehensive souvenir collection of the Bomberettes of that era. It was her passion.

    “I loved it,” Fiala said. “I loved the teaching. My mother and my sister made all the uniforms. My daughters were the mascots; it was a family thing,” Fiala said. “I was in the field for 28 years.”

    “God, we’re good,” Linda Peter Boughton joked as Fiala led 23 of the former cheerleaders in a two-step while they simultaneously twirled batons at a recent practice.

    Fiala instilled discipline, many recalled.

    “We had a plan. No smoking. No drinking and we enjoyed the discipline of the Bomberettes. Donna was a very gentle person, but she had certain expectations,” Boughton recalled.

    Bomberette members said Donna’s combination of good, clean fun and lots of discipline made a lifelong difference.

    “It never leaves you. It changed my life, definitely.” Boughton said.

    On the Blue Bombers’ field ready to perform.

    Blue Bombers Hold 2011 Cheerleader Tryouts

    ChrisD.ca
    May. 02, 2011

    The Winnipeg Football Club held open auditions on Saturday for its 2011 Blue Lightning Dance Team.

    About 65 ladies came out to show off their moves in an effort to be chosen to dance on the sidelines at this season’s Blue Bomber games.

    The competition at McPhillips Station Casino was tough this year, and only a handful of those who tried out will actually make the cut to fill the 18 to 20 spots available.

    But it wasn’t all about looks — inner beauty was also being judged. As the Blue Lightning dancers will have to be ambassadors for the Blue Bombers’ brand, people skills were also a factor in the vetting process.

    View the photo gallery [here]

    Give Me… Some Credit

    Cheerleaders far more than just pretty faces

    By Janet Adamana
    Winnipeg Free Press

    Sexy uniforms, shiny pompoms, claps, kicks and crazy flips may be the first things that come to mind when you think of cheerleading. But local practitioners want you to know there is a whole lot more to the sport.

    bluelightning02

    “People treat it like it’s not difficult,” says Mickaela McAuliffe, choreographer for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Blue Lightning dance team. “It’s very difficult and very physically demanding.”

    Carrie Robson, head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons cheerleading team, agrees. “Cheerleading isn’t just about motivating a crowd. The stunts, tumbling and routine choreography take months of preparation.”

    Robson, 28, has been cheerleading since Grade 6 and knows the sport often has a polarized public opinion. “Most people think of the stereotype of the bubbly, active girl who enthusiastically cheers on her fellow teammates.”

    McAuliffe knows this is the popular image and one of her goals is to build a better reputation for the squad. “There’s no dumb blonds on this team,” she says. “We try to really fight that stereotype that we’re all just a bunch of airheads.” Many past teammates, and those auditioning for the 2010 season, are currently in school studying medicine, law and other professions. “We all have professional day jobs and this is something that we like to do for fun.”

    Another negative image attached to cheerleading is derived from the typical cheering wardrobe. “The outfits are a bit revealing,” says Fiona Green, chairwoman of women’s and gender studies at the University of Winnipeg. She knows that to some, cheerleading is simply a profession. Like most others, this one has a particular dress code. But she says some women also see it as a way to use what they’ve been given. “A lot of women who are aware of their sexuality know it’s a commodity,” says Green. “That’s the big thing, knowing the rules of the game and knowing how to use it without feeling exploited.”

    Although she says she doesn’t know much about cheerleading, she realizes the outfits are just as revealing in most other female sports. “There’s a lot more skin revealed compared to the uniforms worn by men.” She says a majority of the audience at professional games are heterosexual males. “So maybe that’s part of the draw,” she adds, “that these are all young, attractive women, that you can sit and watch.”

    McAuliffe knows there are a lot of men at the games, but says her team is more dedicated to the craft of dancing, rather than simply being eye candy. “We work hard to make sure we’re out there entertaining the fans and dancing with legitimate choreography.” McAuliffe has been dancing since the age of three and paved a hefty career in dance, working as a professional choreographer and artistic director of the Doreen Bissett School of Dance. She also started her own dance company, Make Some Noise!, all of which she says helps boost the reputation of the team. “I think our professionalism and my involvement in the dance community brings a level of legitimacy to this team.”

    Whether it’s a way to show off your stuff, or a way to express yourself through an art form, cheerleading seems to provide its participants with many positives. “It’s a really good platform for somebody who wants to continue dancing,” says McAuliffe. Many Blue Lightning members were into dance and cheerleading throughout high school and found themselves without many other opportunities for dance after graduation.

    One Blue Lightning member, Charlene, whose last name cannot be used due to her contract with the team, saw it as a way to keep doing what she loved. She began her Blue Lightning career at the age of 19. Since then, she’s got more out of it than just a chance to dance. “I’ve learned a lot about myself, public speaking and being confident in my abilities,” she says. “I’m taking all of that to other parts of my life.”

    Charlene has been dancing for the Bombers for the past six years. Although performing is her passion, she also takes much pride in the extra activities the team is required to do. “It’s a lot of hard work and commitment,” she says. “We put in a lot of volunteer hours outside of our actual practice hours.” On average, the team does up to 30 hours of community work, on top of giving up their time to simply dance on the team.

    “I don’t think people realize that they do it voluntarily,” says Stacey Stone, Blue Lightning head coach. “They don’t get paid for this. They all work and a lot of them are in school and have families. So it’s something that shows they go above and beyond.”

    Blue Lightning held the first phase of its 2010 auditions this past weekend, with about 26 girls trying to dance their way onto the team. But good moves and pretty faces aren’t enough. The second portion involves a professional interview with a panel of judges. “We carefully screen our candidates,” says McAuliffe, “We don’t allow people on the team who we feel are going to push our reputation in a negative way.”

    Winnipeg Blue Lightning Auditions

    The last of the CFL Cheerleader Auditions has been scheduled.

    Tryouts for the Winnipeg Blue Lightning will begin Saturday, May 1st.

    An informational night explaining to potential candidates the expectations, rules, responsibilities, obligations and compensation for each Blue Lightning member will be held Monday, April 26th from. 7-9pm

    [Audition Details and Application]