Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hometown girl to put on halftime show 

Posted by Sasha at 8:38 PM ET

By Paul Sullivan , Correspondent
Gloucester Daily Times
January 22, 2008

Little did perky, peppy and pretty Julie Warner realize all those crisp, autumn football seasons ago, when she was leading the cheers for Gloucester High School, she'd someday be performing before 73,000 fans and millions more on TV - in the NFL, and, in two weeks, at the Super Bowl .

"I loved cheering for the Gloucester High Fishermen and they helped me get where I am today," said Warner with a wide, sunny smile.

She is one of the New England Patriots' 24 cheerleaders who'll be with the powerful, perfect Pats when they meet the New York Giants on Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz.

Will the 5-foot, 4-inch brunette with long, straight hair be nervous?

"No, you just go out there and do what you have to do," Warner said, sounding like one of the players. "Besides, I've never had so much fun. Everybody has so much fun."

Warner, the daughter of Jodi and Dan Warner of Gloucester, grew up in Gloucester and still lives here with her dog, China, in a condo in the central section of the city. She makes the long commute at least twice a week to the Pats' home in Foxborough just for practices.

During the past weeks' playoffs, and now, with the Super Bowl looming, there are extra practices.

"It's a long ride but it's worth it," she said.

She has a brother, Stephen, who's a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a sister, Marissa, who attends Salem State College. Warner graduated from Salem State with a degree in business administration, and when she's not cheering on the Patriots, she works as a sales representative with a territory on the North Shore.

Just how did Warner get to be a Patriots cheerleader?

Well, she's been dancing for most of her life, and has been teaching dancing since she was 17, so trying out for the cheerleading squad seemed like a natural progression. She also teaches jazz, hip-hop and tap twice a week in classes in Woburn and Malden, working with students ages 3 to 40.

This past year, Warner decided to give the NFL cheerleader gig a whirl, despite long odds. When she went for her tryout at Foxborough, there were 400 candidates for just 24 spots. Yet she won a spot and became a rookie cheerleader for the Patriots' perfect season.

"It's a great accomplishment to be picked out of the 400 girls who auditioned - girls that are beautiful and intelligent," Warner said. "To be picked out of that, it's just great.

"Being a cheerleader gives you a chance to show off your talent and you're constantly learning," she said. "And it's the greatest venue in New England."

She also enjoys working with her Patriots' cheerleading colleagues.

"It's like a family and we're all sisters. We're very close, and it's something I'll always remember."

The women perform 40 different routines.

"The crowd is loud and exciting." Warner said. "They love the team and are the best fans."

Among those fans are her parents - whom she looks for in the stands for a little extra inspiration when she's cheering and dancing.

Do the cheerleaders get to watch much of the action?

"Oh, yes. We definitely watch the games," she said. Her favorite players are Randy Moss, Wes Welker - and Tedy Bruschi.

"He's always been my favorite," she said, because of the way she sees him interact with the young fans.

What does the future hold for Julie Warner?

"Eventually, I'd like to buy a house, have a family and live closer to work," she said. "Even if I have kids, I want to continue to dance."

She was asked if she has any interest in putting down the pom-poms and going into show biz.

"Yea, anything as long as it keeps me dancing.'

But for now, there's really only one thing on her agenda - the Patriots' Super Bowl date with the Giants - and destiny.

As Warner puts it: "It's a part of history."

Then she paused and added, "I'll be part of history."

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