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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Northeastern graduate chose pom-poms over work-study 

Posted by Sasha at 6:17 PM ET

Megan Jicha
The Northeastern News
5/23/07

Whether it's waiting tables, swiping cards at residence halls or working in retail, many college students rely on part-time jobs as sources of income. Recent mechanical engineering graduate Alyssa Caddle is no different.

"My job just happens to be at Gillette Stadium," said Caddle, a New England Patriots' cheerleader.

She has danced since she was 3 years old and was a member of the Northeastern dance team before she began cheering for the Patriots last year.

Getting paid to dance sounded like the perfect gig, she said.

Last year, Caddle and two of her friends from the dance team tried out for the Patriots' squad. Going in with the expectation of a fun day of dancing and meeting people, Caddle said she didn't expect to make the team.

With two additional Northeastern girls beside Caddle and her friends at the tryouts, she was the only Husky out of the five to be chosen for the squad.

Being a Patriots' cheerleader required her to balance cheerleading, a full course load, squash team and a social life, she said.

Caddle said she takes on a new challenge this year: balancing her second year of cheerleading with a full-time job in supplier quality engineering.

As a Patriots' cheerleader, Caddle attends practices twice a week, including six hours of it on Saturdays. Once the season begins, practice continues twice a week with games on the weekend. The cheerleaders do not travel to away games.

"Alyssa works very hard at practice to stay in shape and learn the routines, which is evident when she performs at appearances and on game day," said Tracy Sormanti, Patriots' cheerleader director and choreographer.

However, there is a lot more to cheering than practicing and games.

"While first and foremost a performer, Alyssa's outgoing personality makes her a fan favorite," Sormanti said. "She is very personable and has a great sense of humor. She is very engaging ... and people enjoy meeting her at promotional appearances."

These promotional opportunities can vary from parades to bar appearances. One of the most recent events was the team's 2008 calendar photo shoot earlier this month in the Dominican Republic.

"It was paradise," Caddle said. "But this year's shoot was harder. Last year I got to do a cute, smiley picture. This year they threw a lot more at me."

Although the team was in the Dominican for a week, Caddle had to leave early for graduation.

Beyond promotional events, the cheerleaders take part in charity work, like working with their junior cheerleaders and visiting different military bases. It is this type of off-the-field work where the cheerleaders' experiences differ, Caddle said. For example, she and five other cheerleaders recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to a military aircraft carrier.

"All 24 of us get to go to games, perform, but this was something only six of us got to do," Caddle said. "I'll probably never get to go on an aircraft carrier again and that was like a playground for an engineer."

Caddle said she receives a lot of attention and support from fans, family and companions.

"Every time I see her on the field, I feel like a proud parent," said her friend Kara Gilhooly, also a recent mechanical engineering graduate. Gilhooly and Caddle were on the dance and squash teams together.

Next year, if Caddle is in Boston, she said she plans to tryout for the squad for the third time. However, it would be her last year on the team because each girl is allowed a three-year cheering contract for the Patriots.

"It keeps the team fresh," Caddle said. "Fans like seeing new faces."

But whether she is on the team or not, she will always be cheering for the team.

"I always have and always will be a Patriots' fan," she said.

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