Friday, July 27, 2007

Redskins Cheerleader Blog - Sharica 

Posted by Sasha at 6:16 PM ET

Summer Rehearsals: Only the Strong Survive!
July 18, 2007

My name is Sharica and I'm thrilled to say this is my first season with the Washington Redskins. I recently relocated back to the Washington, D.C., area from Houston, where I cheered two consecutive seasons with the Houston Texans.

Prior to moving to Houston, I had my first experience as a professional cheerleader with the Baltimore Ravens. I'm honored to say I've been cheering professionally for five years and I've now been a member of three different NFL teams. (Is that a record?)

Even though I've traveled around the NFL, it's truly an honor to be part of the "First Ladies of Football."

My experience as a professional cheerleader has varied from team to team. When I started with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003, there was a huge focus on colligate cheerleading and dance. The Ravens pride themselves on being "TEAM" and family oriented. The Ravens add a special flavor to NFL cheerleading and will always play a very important part in my career as a professional cheerleader. They were my start!

When I moved on to the Houston Texans, I experienced some of the most rewarding opportunities in my career. The Texans are a relatively new organization to NFL football and they are determined to be the best cheerleaders in the entire NFL. Texas is regarded as the land of cheerleading and dance and the Texans' squad is made up of phenomenal dancers.

Each of these teams has played an important role in my professional cheerleading career and I only expect the best from the Washington Redskins. I have already experienced a phenomenal trip to Cancun, Mexico, and the honor to wear the gorgeous uniform of the First Ladies of Football. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Fans, I want to explain to you how the First Ladies get ready for the 2007 season! Here we go...

Summer rehearsals are our most critical time of the season. It takes a great deal of dedication, focus and time commitment. During this time, we are preparing for each "show-stopping" performance showcased during the 2007 season.

There's a strong emphasis on high kicks. The First Ladies of Football, your Washington Redskins Cheerleaders, have a history, a tradition, a foundation that takes pride in high kicks and kick routines. The crowd pleasing routines take a lot of preparation, practice and technique.

We began rehearsal with a 30-minute warm-up, which is a combination of sideline fillers and routines (mini routines and combos we do on the sidelines).

Our captains lead these warm-ups by alternating sidelines fillers/routines to all styles of music. These intense workouts help for muscle memory and becoming familiar with the Redskins Cheerleaders' dance style.

Warm-up is followed by a concentrated stretch, which is extremely important considering the amount of kicks we do at rehearsal. Once we are done stretching, we line up for "across the floor."

Across the floor are sequences that help to improve our overall technique and height for kicks. Stephanie Jojokian, our director and choreographer, runs our stretching and across the floor with combinations to make sure we are executing the proper skills.

Here is when is gets good; now our technique is put to the test! We line up shortest to tallest, kick line style, across the dance room--and you must bring your "A" game.

The director of entertainment, Donald Wells, conducts our kick combinations and he only accepts the best from each girl. Every member is expected to have flawless high kicks, with proper technique, that are eye level. During the audition process, some applicants were eliminated due to the emphasis and expectations of the high-kick tradition.

We start with kicks that warm up the legs and then move on to some of our signature kick sequences, including our famous squad drop split. These warm-ups and combos help strengthen our flexibility and perfect the ideal high kicks and drop split. The impact these routines have on the crowd are phenomenal and I can't wait to experience that feeling this year on the field.

Although there's such a huge focus on high kicks, it's not the only priority we have during summer. We have already completed the 2007-08 Calendar, which is due out soon. We've survived through training camps, photo shoots and learning new routines and perfecting them each rehearsal.

Summer is also the opportunity to jell and get to know your teammates, rookies and veterans alike. Receiving our sideline groups was a major highlight, because they're the astonishing ladies that we'll dance with "side by side" the entire season. These groups are chosen by dance style, hair color and overall diversity of the group. What's your flavor?

Fans: you are in store for a great season and great entertainment! We appreciate your continued support and can't wait to see you at the games. Go Burgundy and Gold!

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