Big hair, tights, spandex, and lipstick. Four words that describes the environment of an NFL cheerleading audition space. As I walked through the gymnasium doors, there were perfect smiles and bodies everywhere I looked. Cameras pointed in every angle, some girls even being interviewed. Girls gripping resumes and head shot photos as they waited in line to get registered. Some wore bright, neon colors, while others stuck to the basic team colors. But we all had one thing in common, we all wanted to become the next rookie New England Patriots cheerleader.
As we all stretched aimlessly to pass the time…
I couldn’t help but compare myself to others around. Flat stomachs and perfect tans surrounded me. I suddenly felt grossly self-conscious and opted to grab my warm-up jacket in order to hide my stomach while stretching.
We were then asked to circle up as the coach of the NFL cheerleading team gave us a pep talk and told us to ‘live in the moment’ and ‘give it everything we had.’ She also mentioned that it was very rare to make it on your first audition and encouraged us to never give up. Ten minutes later, it was time for freestyle rounds.
Over 500 hopeful NFL cheerleaders lined up along side of the gym in groups of 5.
Each girl would have 8 counts of 8 to wow the judges with a freestyle performance that showcased the best of their abilities. Of the 500, only about 60 women would make it through to the next round of auditions.
Nerves start to creep all over my body and my brain runs on overdrive.
I tell myself not to watch the competitors before me in order to stay focused on myself. I go through the motions of my freestyle dance about 100 times before I take my place in front of the judges. When the moment finally came, it was a blur. Did I smile enough? Did I point y toes as hard as I could? Were they impressed? I tried to study their faces– all were smiling, but then again, everyone in the room hadn’t stopped smiling since 9 AM.
From there, hopeful NFL Cheerleaders were told to break for lunch as the judges deliberated our performances. After, we all had the opportunity to learn the choreography for the next round of cuts before our fate had been revealed. We learned the dance, which was about a minute long, and practiced until it was time for cuts.
Suddenly every single girl who sat around me with their legs crossed and heads down became my best friend. We held each other’s hand and squeezed as a list of numbers were read off. My brain blocked out most of this terrifying moment, but I remember small and quiet sighs of reliefs every few numbers called. The lucky women who would be moving on would lift their heads and smile the biggest and most genuine smiles I had witnessed all day.
From there, the number called (including my own) advanced to showcase the choreography we had just learned in front of the judges which was the final round of the first part of the audition process. During this round of the competition, girls performed in groups of 4 on a stage for the judges. The process went much quicker and before we knew it, another cut was upon us. Sadly, my journey was cut short and ended at this round of cuts.
My gut wrenched and I tried to hold my head as high as I could as I walked out of the auditorium doors. Cameras huddled in front of the doors in the hopes of getting dramatic reactions. I didn’t give them what they were looking for. I knew there was still work to be done and room to better myself. “It’s just not my year”, I told myself, and the glitz and glam disappeared behind me as the cold Boston air hit my cheeks.
The next round of auditions took place two weeks later and is considered to be the most grueling part of the audition process. NFL cheerleading hopefuls endure interviews, dance performances, bikini runway walks, and a boot camp process before being names a New England Patriots cheerleader. However, almost every girl on the current squad will tell you that it was all worth it and it is the experience of a lifetime to cheer on a 6-time Superbowl winning team.
Although the process can be grueling..
If NFL cheerleading is a dream of yours, I say to go for it. My auditions process may not have ended the way I dreamed it would have, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It made me realize that I still have room to grow and better myself as a dancer and pushed me to work harder for my goals. In the future, when I feel the most prepared and ready, I will go for my dream once again.