Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ben-Gals Blog - Summer Training 

Posted by Sasha at 6:55 PM ET

Hang in there, you can do it!
Cincinnati Bengals
Jul 11 2007

Hi Ben-Gal Fans!

It has been 6 weeks since the start of our season and my last blog. The Ben-Gals have completed more than half of summer camp training. I think they would agree…the experience has been a lot of fun and it's been hard work just the same. With anything, rewards don't come without sacrifice. Summer camp is no joke. It requires time management at the highest level, focused concentration to learn and perfect a large amount of choreography in a short amount of time, dedication and discipline to follow a weight training program that results in what I call “lines of definition” and the ability to keep a smile and a positive attitude through it all. The upcoming weeks ahead should be exciting as we begin to prepare for our first audience performance at Georgetown and our first home game on August 18th.

The team has been learning a lot of choreography and cheers. There have been 3-4 practices per week every week since June 5th. The ladies have been working hard to clean and perfect their dances in hopes for a good review by the Coaches and Captains enough to earn one of 24 spots on the field. “Strong arms!”… “Lots of energy!”… “Good motion placement!”…. “Smile!”… “Point the toes!”… “It needs more work….let's do it again!” These are common remarks one could hear on the sidelines at any given practice. In addition to all of the dance instruction, a week's worth of busy days and late nights were designated for photography sessions for the team's group picture and their individual website photos. Rookies have had to master the concept of Ben-Gal glamour which includes the famous “Orange Flip” lipstick by Revlon. Any Ben-Gal knows this is required whenever they are in uniform.

The rookies are still working on the glamour. The 2nd year veterans are really demonstrating their abilities in this category. We are impressed with how they have taken what they learned last year as rookies and now demonstrating them at a higher level. We continue to depend on our senior veterans to lead and build this team as the program is only as strong as our weakest link. Each Ben-Gal has undergone body fat analysis, learned nutritional facts about healthy foods and has begun a rigorous workout training program. First night's practice included a 2-mile run, which was clocked and used as a base time. We will do another run towards the end of camp. Not only do the ladies have to be able to perform their routines, we also check for endurance.

I couldn't be more proud of this 2007-08 Ben-Gal team! They have worked extremely hard and their dedication to the program can be easily demonstrated as each of these ladies can exhibit “lines of definition.” Some could easily be candidates for the next “Abs of Steel” workout tape. It's not easy being a Ben-Gal. Yet, our program isn't that difficult either ... it's all about dedication, discipline, and self-motivation while enjoying the incredible experience along the way. What you put into it, is what you get out of it.

In the midst of all of the summer camp activities, the ladies are also finding time to give back to the community by attending a number of charity events. Recent appearances include the Celebrity Cook-Off at Benihana's, Taste of the NFL, Bowling for Autism and Relay for Life ... just to name a few.

If you think that's enough to keep one busy … wait, there's more! Charlotte and I also began our annual Ben-Gal calendar project. I can honestly say … I'm exhausted! However, the most challenging and longest part of the process has been completed. Working 20-hour days for the past 6 weeks, my days and nights began to blend together. Some days, I had to re-check my planner several times in order to know what day it actually was! And, I'm sure I wasn't alone. Many of the ladies worked a similar schedule.

Charlotte worked the logistics of coordinating efforts with our famous photographer, Jim Stouffer, assigned the photography shoot dates and drove all over Cincinnati to find just the right locations to hold the shoots. The Great Wolf Lodge, Paul Brown Stadium, The Mesh Restaurant and two residential homes were this year's choices. Meanwhile, I put my Fashion Stylist hat on and worked with each of the 29 ladies, chose and fitted their calendar attires based on style, color and body type. The Perfections Salon and our makeup artists were scheduled as well.

Like magic, all of the schedules for all those involved behind the scenes came together. During the weeks of June 24th and July 1st, we spent 5 days (6:30am – 6:30pm) photographing 6 girls per day. Each Ben-Gal received a day of photography pampering which began with an individual salon appointment that catered a unique hairstyle and makeup application just for them. Each of the ladies did a great job and their photos are absolutely stunning! To give you an idea of what's next ... there are about 8000 pictures to review. The Coaches and the Photographer will narrow those down to 29 to find the best one for each Ben-Gal. We started that process last night.

The selection process can be a little challenging because there are so many and they are all so beautiful. Next, we will determine of those 29 which 16 ladies will receive the honor of having their own month with the top honors going to a front cover girl and a back cover girl. We plan to have a finished product by Sept 5th or 6th. Stay tuned for more details on our big upcoming calendar unveiling event. Everyone is welcome to celebrate with us! Also, we soon will have several photos available for viewing here on our Web site.

As Coaches, we have 31 years of Ben-Gal cheerleading experience in addition to 24 years of coaching experience between the 3 of us. In weeks 7 and 8 of training camp, we will begin to evaluate those who are bringing it to the table as opposed to those who are still developing their total package. The development and abilities to perform their skills in the next 3-4 weeks will become crucial and a deciding factor as to who will be on the field on game day. By then, they will have learned a lot. Learned not only “cheerleading stuff,” but they will have learned a lot about themselves, their abilities to achieve and their inner strengths. Perhaps, some things they didn't expect to learn when they stepped into the try-out competition back in May? When these begin to surface and become realized, then it becomes one of my many rewards as their Coach.

Well, that just about wraps up our past 6 weeks of summer camp. Whew….that was a lot! Stay tuned as we continue to make progress and prepare for Georgetown and our first home game! Until next time….


Mary Daniels
Asst. Director

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