Monday, May 07, 2007

Former Panther Pride member finalist for Texans' cheerleaders 

Posted by Sasha at 9:28 PM ET

By Gary Stallard
The Lufkin Daily News

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A former Lufkin High School Panther Pride drill team member needs your vote.

No, she's not running for a political office. What Kristen Bell hopes to accomplish is something far more prestigious — at least in the eyes of dancers and sports fans.

Bell, who was captain of Panther Pride the year the Pack football team won their state championship, has danced her way to Texas A&M and — hopefully — onto the squad for the Houston Texans. Having made it through the four cuts that narrowed the field from more than 600 down to 38, Bell finds herself a few votes away from fulfilling her dream.

Beginning at 11:05 tonight, the Web site for Houston's Channel 13 news (www.abc13.com) will have a link allowing fans to vote for one of four young ladies vying for the 35th and final spot on the Texans Cheerleaders' roster. The links will feature photos, bios and videos of each candidate performing, and will have instructions on how to place your vote.

The voting will continue all next week, concluding at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Bell is hoping to get enough support from her hometown to land her that final position.

"I really did this mainly for fun," Bell said. "I graduated (Texas A&M) in December, and I didn't dance all last semester. I really missed it.

"This was for fun. I really didn't expect it to go this far."

Bell began her dance career in the 9th grade at Lufkin as a member of the JV Drill Team. Following the school's big football championship season — she was on the field for every game — she moved on to A&M, where she danced on the Aggie Dance Team for four years. In December, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology; since then, she's been working full time at the St. Joseph's Regional Rehab Center in Bryan as a rehabilitation technician.

That's her day job. With enough votes, she can also count on working weekends, dancing for the Texans at Reliant Stadium.

"I always wanted to try dancing for a professional sports team," Bell says. "I have a couple of friends who are with the Texans' cheerleaders now, and they talked me into it and helped me get started."

Bell says that even now, she's reminded of the years with Panther Pride and the routines implemented by former Panther Pride leader Alice Dack.

"For (Texans) tryouts, we had to do kicks," Bell recalls. "It seems that every Panther playoff game, we were doing the high-kick routine. We were afraid to stop; I guess we thought it would jinx the team.

"Alice (Dack) was one of my best friends. She always encouraged her girls to go on and keep dancing. It was her passion, and she passed that along to so many of us."

Should the voting go against her next week, Bell says she'll keep trying.

"As long as I have this desire to dance, I'll keep trying," she says. "For now, I've done all I could do, so it's out of my hands. It's down to the vote."

Again, the Web site for placing votes is www.abc13.com

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