Tuesday, December 11, 2007
By Ben Ledbetter
North Carolina has given the Washington Redskins an accomplished quarterback in Sonny Jurgensen. The Tar Heel state, and Davidson County, has also provided the team with two of its cheerleaders: Kelly Owens and Jacqui Moore.
The two have been cheering together for the Redskins for the first time this year, and having Owens on the squad has certainly been positive for Moore.
"It's been hard work, but it's been great to have someone that you know there and look up to," Moore said.
Owens, who started cheering professionally several years ago for the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards, remembers part of her rookie year. She's been with the Redskins for three years.
"It's always harder the first year obviously because you're learning the ropes," Owens said. "You've got an unbelievable amount of material to learn."
It's also a part-time job as all the cheerleaders have full-time jobs or are students. Owens, who lives in Fredricksburg, Va., sells advertising for two radio stations, and Moore works for the Department of Education and lives in Silver Spring, Md. But the money is not the top concern.
"It's the love of the performance, probably every dancer would say that," Owens said. "That's what it all comes down to, loving being there. We have the biggest stadium in the NFL. It's 92,000 fans yelling and screaming. The Redskins fans are so devoted. They make you just love it."
Davidson County natives Jaqui Moore (left) of Arcadia and Kelly Owens of Tyro, both Cheerleaders for the Washington Redskins football team, sit on the porch of Owens' home in Tyro.
"We all know that everyone's tired," Moore said. "It doesn't matter. We're all there for one purpose, to get the job done. We have fun doing it and make great friends."
One opportunity being a cheerleader provides is going overseas as Owens, 30, has been abroad three times with the Wizards and went to Honduras last year with the Redskins to entertain American troops there.
"It definitely makes you appreciate everything that you have here," Owens said. "It's the most amazing show that we do. It's the most amazing performance ever. It's just like bringing them a piece of home. You just try to bring them a smile, and let them know you care."
Other than cheering at games, the cheerleaders also participate in activities that include calendar shoots and charity work.
Moore, 27, recently visited injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"You've got injured soldiers in wheelchairs, and they're thanking you for your time," Moore said. "It's overwhelming. It's a wonderful experience."
Moore still looks forward to possibly going overseas.
"I think there are some other teams in the NFL that go overseas," she said. "I definitely think that was a major draw for myself coming in."
While Moore can turn to Owens for support, the veteran can call on her sister, Tracy Rutledge, for help. Rutledge has danced for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.
"It's great when they're there because if I need some support, if I've had a rough night or something, I can call my sister, Tracy, and she can understand exactly what I'm going through."
Having Owens' father, Dalford Dean Owens Sr., see her first game meant a lot to her. He died from leukemia in March 2006.
"That was just amazing for me to get to have him there."