Monday, April 30, 2007
Maryville Daily Forum
Bearcat Stepper Liz Holmes is stepping up to the big time.
Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Holmes recently learned that she has been selected as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders.
After finding via the Internet that the NFL organization was holding tryouts, Holmes began a grueling audition process this spring, competing against hundreds of candidates.
Picked as a finalist, she headed to cheerleader "boot camp" in late March, where she and dozens of other young women honed skills relating to teamwork, football trivia, live performance, speaking skills, glamour and community relations.
The selection process also included a runway modeling and talent audition that focused on singing and acting skills used by troupe members when performing variety shows for US military personnel and at corporate events.
On April 15, Holmes and the 31 remaining rookie candidates competed for jobs against squad veterans. Two days later, Chiefs officials posted the final 40-member roster online, and the senior public relations major learned she was in.
Holmes, who plans to graduate from Northwest Missouri State University in August after completing an event planning internship with Epic Entertainment in Kansas City, has performed with the Bearcat Steppers since 2003. She is a former captain of the dance team, which performs regularly at Bearcats athletic events.
Though being a Chiefs cheerleader is essentially a part-time job that will allow her to finish her degree, the schedule is still demanding.
The cheerleaders practice three times a week through the summer then, when football season starts, appear at all Chiefs home games and tour with the variety show. Holmes said the work is similar to that required of her as a Stepper but more intense and demanding.
"It's just taking it to a more professional level in every aspect," she said.
With hundreds of applicants trying out for a handful of Chiefs cheerleading jobs each year — and no guarantees for veterans that they will be asked to return — the competition is fierce. But Holmes said one of her most striking impressions has been the camaraderie and friendliness among those trying to earn a spot.
"All the girls are so nice, and it's been a very enjoyable experience so far," Holmes said. "Everyone has been very welcoming."