RAH-RAH START: I've always been a dancer. In high school, I was a cheerleader and on the dance team. So six years ago, when I heard about Redskin cheerleader auditions on the radio, I had to go for it. I thought it would add a little kick to my regular office life as an IT program manager.
CHEERMANIA: Being a cheerleader is a part-time gig but definitely another job. It's about 20 hours a week: two three-and-a-half-hour practices and one or two promotional events, plus games on the weekend. The best time to meet us is at a promotion or on game days. The Web site (www.redskins.com) has a calendar of events and lists who will be going.
PEP SQUAD: They pay us $50 a home game, but I'd cheer for free. It brings opportunities I otherwise wouldn't have, like traveling around the world. We also get to give something back by doing a lot of community events. My personal favorite is partnering with the Department of Defense to visit the troops. I've been on six tours to 27 different countries. The most memorable was our last tour, to Iraq. My brother-in-law is there and I got to see him.
GAME DAY: Though a game might last four hours, it's an eight- or 12-hour day for us. We get to the stadium four and a half hours before kickoff and have an hour-long practice. Then we shower and get ready to do all the promotions. We dance with the band as people enter, sign autographs, take pictures or mingle with season-ticket holders. Then we do our pre-game show a half-hour before the players come out.
SPIRIT FINGERS: It does take a lot of primping. We have special long-lasting makeup from MAC that won't melt when it gets toasty outside. It's one of our tricks for staying fresh. That's part of the job. You have to sell the glamorous side, too.
CASTING CALL: Everyone -- even veteran cheerleaders -- auditions each year. All in all, it's 300 to 500 women. The Redskins Web site has information about trying out. You definitely have to be physically fit. I'd also recommend dance classes -- jazz, ballet, any kind of technical class. In February and March we have workshops; anyone can come practice. It's a good way to learn our dance style and personality. In early April we have the audition, and the next week, we start practice.
As told to Kelly DiNardo
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