The Bay Area Super Bowl has come and gone…and the reality is we probably won’t see it again here anytime soon. Locals are glad the traffic is gone and city life will return to “normal.” I’m glad that it came through the Bay and I was lucky enough to attend some of the events and fanfare leading up to it. No, I didn’t go to the game, lots of people kept asking me if I was going, but I’m more of the mindset that if my team’s not in it, I’m better off watching from the convenience of my couch. I did however attend some of the preceding week’s pre-game soirees around town. I’ve posted some of my favorite snaps from my Super Bowl week in the City below…
It’s been a week since I had the opportunity to perform on Monday Night Football at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Last Monday, I took the field for pregame with more than 150 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders Alumni to entertain the crowd before kickoff. The experience brought back the chills, some nerves and that anxious feeling you get before performing in front of tens of thousands of people! After being away from dancing on the NFL for several years now, I sort of had forgotten just how HUGE the field feels and how it feels to dance in the stadium. Plus, I had NEVER danced in a domed stadium before…during the one season I spent with the AZ Cardinals, they still played at ASU Sun Devil Stadium, so it did feel different to be in the air conditioned dome. Press play below to see video of the performance…
Anyhow, keep scrolling down to view some of the photos from my fun-filled weekend in the desert, celebrating the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders Anniversary.
One of my good girlfriends in Arizona coaches the Sidewinders aka the Arizona Rattlers Dance Team and last night she shared a beyond awesome video with me of a performance during one of their arena football games. I started watching the video thinking her girls looked GREAT, dancing so clean and sharp…and then out of nowhere a “football player” – IN UNIFORM, jumps in and breaks it down…easily outshining the ladies! I told her this is too awesome not to share and she replied by telling me he was responsible for choreographing the whole routine too!! LOVE IT! Press play, you won’t regret it!
I’m a former NFL Cheerleader for 2 different NFL teams (Raiders and Cardinals) and recently we had a reunion with women representing 24 different teams over the past 50 years! Anyhow, my “roomie” for the event was Shannon Oleen, a former KC Chiefs Cheerleader turned Inspirational Speaker. She was one of the speakers during our Saturday night gala and delivered a great message to all the attendees, preceded by her very TRUE and very FUNNY “Top 10 — You know you were a (former) NFL Cheerleader IF…” She tested it (the list) out on me beforehand and she was dead on!!!
So, I wanted to re-post her blog and share it with all of you!!! And — to all my fellow NFL Cheerleaders (Alumni, Current and Future), would love it if you chimed in on just HOW TRUE this all is!!!
Top 10 Reasons, you know you were a former NFL Cheerleader:
10. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because to this day, you cannot take a photo without the classic top pop.
9. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because you have the best grapevine in your Zumba class.
8. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because you have mastered the art of putting on eyelashes or nails, while driving. Shhhh!
7. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because to this day you can still educate any man about the game of football, all of the rules and you can spot a tight end from a mile away, because you know your football facts!
6. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, if you are out for a girls weekend and you happen to bust out into sidelines #6.
5. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because you know exactly which number, and which shade of red lipstick suits you.
4. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because you’ve been asked a 1,000 times how many, and which players you’ve dated.
3. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because to this day, your husband’s cousin’s boyfriend still asks you if you can get free tickets to this year’s season home opener.
2. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because every time you step into a stadium, you get that tingle in your belly when you hear the national anthem.
1. You know you were a former NFL Cheerleader, because at the NFL Cheer Alumni Reunion, we took over the dance floor all night long.
I had a whirlwind weekend in Atlanta this past weekend, and while I would’ve loved to have been able to have been there a little longer, it was an unforgettable 24 hours in the ATL. The reason that brought me there was to attend the 2014 national Football Cheerleaders Reunion. The event is still in it’s baby stages, this only being the 2nd reunion ever to include all Alumni from NFL teams across the map. I missed the 1st reunion in 2012, as I had just had my first child, but I knew I wasn’t going to miss this one! The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders Alumni hosted this event, and did an absolutely amazing job putting it all together. I’m so glad my limited time did not deter me from attending, it was so totally worth it to be there for the Saturday night gala and stand among some 250+ women, all Alumni of the various NFL Cheers teams…even the ones that don’t exist anymore!
There is nothing like being in a room full of women who have gone through the auditions, practices, workouts and game days you love and cherish. It’s an amazing almost indescribable experience, an instant bond, like being in a sorority, a real sisterhood where you KNOW these women KNOW exactly what it’s like to stand and cheer on the NFL sidelines.
All in all, 24 teams spanning 50 years of NFL Cheerleading, were represented, some that don’t even exist anymore. So if you didn’t know…now you do. The Pittsburgh Steelerettes, Chicago Honey Bears and Houston Oilers Derrick Dolls all had alumni in attendance. And –while I was the lone Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader alumni, there was also a former St. Louis Cardinals cheerleader in the building!
In the photo above are current and former directors of NFL Cheer Teams…and in the center is Suzanne Mitchell, the original director for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, a legendary woman, who spoke to us about how it all came to be…it was such an emotional moment feeling the deep love and appreciation everyone in the room has for her, knowing she was a huge part in paving the way for what the opportunity has become today.
I had a great time meeting A Raiderette sister, Elaine, who was an LA Raiderette before moving to Indy where she danced for the Pacers and Colts. I met the very sweet Lisa Guerrero who is a fellow broadcaster and former LA Rams Cheerleader…her resume also includes directing the Falcons and Patriots Cheerleaders. My roomie for the weekend is a fellow AFC West Alumni Cheerleader, Shannon Oleen who was a Chiefs Cheerleader. She is also an amazing public speaker who delivers inspirational messages and impressed at the Alumni Gala with her “10 Reasons You KNOW You’re an NFL Cheerleader.” All of them, so much fun!!!
There is nothing like line dancing and doing the “Wobble” with 200 plus former cheerleaders or busting out with game day choreography with your sisters on the dance floor. Cheers go out to Mickey Crawford who runs the Atlanta Alumni group and made this reunion happen, along with Terri Lamb who is the head of the Redskins Cheer Alumni group. I have had the pleasure of knowing them both for a few years now and I see their vision for uniting all the talented and amazing women who all share the distinction of being NFL Cheerleaders. I feel so blessed to have made so many new friends and just to be part of this elite network of women who are my sisters. I can’t wait for our next shin dig in 2016! Buffalo or bust!!!
Yes, I was an Oakland Raiderette…and am still a proud alumni! So news of a lawsuit by a current – on her way out former Raiderette from the most recent season has hit the media, and I couldn’t resist giving my 2 cents, okay it’s more like a lot of SENSE!! And this all comes on the heels of a new petition on behalf of ALL NFL Cheerleaders (completely unrelated) to get MORE PAY!
Check these links for background:
Busted Coverage – Cheerleader Sues Raiders for Withholding Pay & Not Paying Minimum Wage **this article contains a copy of the actual lawsuit paperwork filed**
ESPN – Cheerleader Files Suit Against Raiders
Pay Petition – for all NFL Teams Cheerleaders
But seriously, this is sparking so much debate among Raiderette Alumni and people in general, that I just had to put my thoughts down and share…so here goes…
YES…being a PRO TEAM Dancer/Cheerleader is a low paying job…I’ve been on 3 teams in the NBA and NFL. Do I believe the compensation should be more, yes, that would be nice to be paid for my time and talent, but here’s the reality (from my dancing days):
- Cheerleaders (Raiders) are paid a per game stipend, practice is not paid and certain community/charity events may also be non paid. There are other paid appearance opportunities and you are always told the pay, location and summary of all events before you sign up. Other pro teams do receive a minimum wage for practice. You also receive tickets for the game as part of the compensation.
- Team members sign a contract acknowledging and agreeing to the terms of pay, attendance, expectations (hair, makeup, nails, citizenship, etc…), duties, hours, and it is often a requirement for those selected to hold some type of job or be a student outside of the team.
- Members are required to maintain and meet fitness/appearance requirements, all of which are discussed and agreed to…gym membership and stylist discounts are also given by sponsors. And while some of the ladies may take that as required weekly manicures or regular haircuts and color, those are optional expenses the ladies incur at their own discretion…again they AGREED to this.
- Travel to appearances may sometimes be out of area, but if you sign up to drive 90 miles, I’m saying, don’t complain about it.
- Fines are incurred when you are late for practice, games, events or if you forget required equipment, attire, etc… I have no issue with this, money is the best motivator to get people to stay on top of their game.
So my thing is, at auditions… candidates are WELL AWARE of what it takes to make the team and what the job entails, if selected among the HUNDREDS, sometimes THOUSANDS of hopefuls. I think the general public assumes it is a full time job and doesn’t realize the reality of what goes on behind the glamour – hours of practice, appearances and prep, but truth be told, after all the hard work, hours of sweat, all the tears shed, dedication and miles driven, what you take home doesn’t even cover gas costs! However, the majority (if not all) of the ladies in the pro ranks aren’t doing it “for the money.” What this job offers are priceless memories and friendships, unique experiences and once in a lifetime opportunities. As a pro team cheerleader I was able to network and meet countless top level executives from a wide range of industries, work alongside community leaders and influencers, travel and represent teams in the most elite sports leagues and given the platform to be part of game day entertainment in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans!
Honestly, this gets me worked up because I am protective of the “sisterhood.” I do see the point of being paid more and it would be well-deserved, but the reality is that being a Raiderette or part of any pro team is a privilege and honor, that is priceless!! IF this suit is successful, I think a few things could happen. It may be possible that teams do away with cheerleaders altogether or make it a volunteer job with NO stipend. However, since the cheerleaders are vital to branding and bring in millions of dollars for the team, maybe they shrink the squads down to only a dozen or less, to make them full-time staff. But, let’s be honest, the hundreds of women that try out would do it for free, and these days the spots are so coveted that they enlist the coaching of people like me, through Going Pro Entertainment, to give them advice and pointers on how to make a team!
It will be interesting to see what happens. I worked full time outside of my position as a pro team cheerleader/dancer, with each team I was lucky enough to be a member of…and I would do it all over again for the same “low” pay.
I made my NFL Network debut yesterday on their morning show, “NFL AM,” with a countdown style segment on NFL’s Pop Culture Crossovers. It was a fun segment and I got plenty of great feedback, so hopefully I’ll be bringing more “pop culture” to the show very soon!
Check out my 5 for the week…. From Colin Kaepernick’s kicks to Kurt Warner’s life story.
At any rate, here’s my clip from the show…press play!
And — thanks to Touch Dolls boutique for helping me select my yellow dress for the segment!
SAVE THE DATE!!
The next reunion for the National Football Cheerleaders Alumni (former NFL Cheerleaders) is August 1st-3rd in 2014. We know it is early, but we want you to mark your calendars to plan to be there. The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders Alumni are excited to be hosting it in Atlanta, GA. Click here http://www.nationalfootballcheerleadersalumni.com/events.html to see the fun at the reunion held in 2012 hosted by the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders Alumni. We hope to see you there!