Saturday, May 12, 2007

McClain Dances Her Way into NFL 

Posted by James at 4:47 PM ET

Travis Metcalf
Tahlequah Daily Press
A small town girl has gotten a big time job.

Tahlequah’s own Jessica McClain, a 2002 graduate of Tahlequah High School and 2006 graduate of Oklahoma State University, can now be seen on the Arrowhead Stadium sidelines during the upcoming NFL football season.

McClain is one of 40 ladies to be selected to be a part of this year’s Kansas City Chiefs Cheer Squad. She was among over 225 applicants who tried out for the slot.

“It’s a lot of fun,” McClain said. “It’s more than I ever expected. It’s not like what most people would think of an NFL cheer squad. They are so encouraging.”

Jessica, daughter of Brenda and David McClain, went to Kansas City soon after graduation when she got a job at Cerner, which is a medical software company.

She said she decided to tryout for the cheer squad when a friend of hers who was a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers approached her about the idea.

“So, I started taking some dance classes to get my flexibility back,” McClain said. “I took some time away from dancing when I was in college.”

Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders

She still holds that job at Cerner, but said it doesn’t interfere with her Chiefs schedule because of the flexibility of the hours.

“With my particular job, there is a lot more flexibility,” Jessica said. “I’m sure as time goes on, there probably will be some conflicts, but as long as I get my stuff done, they are flexible with how that works.”

Currently, the cheer practices are twice a week for about three hours each, however when June comes, they will add a Saturday practice that lasts four hours.

They also have promotional activities they have to do as well, such as photo shoots.

“It’s definitely gotten a lot more busy trying to juggle work and a social life because I’m used to having my nights and weekends free,” McClain said. “I used to travel home frequently, but now there is always something on the weekends like draft day and Saturday practices in June.”

McClain said she wasn’t a big NFL fan when she was growing up, however really brushed up on the sport before her tryouts. Before any person tries out, they must do an interview first, like any other job.

“I’ve always been one who does their research before the interview,” McClain said. “I wasn’t going to go in clueless.”

After the girls who would get past the interview process were selected, there were several rounds of tryouts starting with the preliminaries. After each round, cuts were made until the final 40, plus four alternates, were chosen.

“Going into it, it was very intimidating because I didn’t know what to expect at all,” She said. “I had only been in Kansas City for seven months before the tryouts.”

Also part of the tryout was a football challenge where there was be a test of football knowledge.

McClain said becoming a celebrity is going to be something she is going to have to get used to.

“On draft day, we were already signing autographs,” she said. “That was interesting because, I’ve never even performed at a game yet. It’s exciting, but it will be strange. I’m just doing what I’m doing. I’m just going out there dancing.”

She said she owed a lot of her success to her THS dance teacher Melissa Weeks.

“She was phenomenal,” McClain said.

Jessica has been dancing for about ten years.

She said she was confident going into the tryouts, however, anything could have happened.

“You have to go in with confidence,” she said. “They say you get more nervous ever year. You never know what they’re looking for. They may need girls who are incredible speakers or with technical training or even something as simple as a certain hair color.”

Since going to Kansas City, McClain said that she has fallen in love with KC.

“I went to a Chiefs game (last season) and I thought, this is something that would be so much fun,” she said.

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