Monday, February 04, 2008

Former Chieftains cheerleader, gymnast now raising pom-poms for Pats 

Posted by Sasha at 6:30 PM ET

By Joshua Boyd
Thu Jan 31, 2008

Phoenix, Ariz. - Only the coaches and players (and all those other miscellaneous people on the field) will have a better view of Super Bowl XLII than Middleton’s Angela Lavoie.

Lavoie, a Masconomet graduate and UMass-Amherst student, is a rookie cheerleader for the New England Patriots this season. And what a season to join: on Sunday, the Patriots get a chance to finish an historic 19-0 — but the New York Giants are guarding the stack of record books. They don’t want to be a footnote to New England’s glory days.

Should the TV cameras show the sidelines, you may see the 21-year-old Lavoie raising (if not losing) her voice and dancing for the Pats as millions around the globe watch the drama unfold.

Through the wonders of modern technology (i.e. e-mail), the Transcript got a few minutes of the busy student/store cashier/cheerleader’s time for a Q & A before she hopped a plane to Phoenix.

Tri-Town Transcript: What drew you towards wanting to dance/cheer — even before you heard of openings with the Patriots? Were you a cheerleader with Masconomet?

Lavoie: I have been dancing my whole life. Since I was a little over 2, I have taken dance classes from the same studio. I think it is a mixture of my love for dance and the people at the studio that kept me there.

[At] Masconomet Regional, I wanted to get involved in school activities, but they did not offer dance. Instead, I participated in cheerleading and gymnastics. I cheered all four years of high school, was awarded All-League my junior year, and made captain my senior year. I participated in other activities at Masco as well, but cheerleading was by far my favorite.

Transcript: What is the time commitment, being a student with a job and also taking part in cheerleading for the Patriots? How many public appearances, obviously besides games, do you make for the Patriots?

Lavoie: Cheerleading for the Patriots is a huge time commitment. Although it is a part-time job, a lot of hard work goes into practices and appearances. We practice two times a week for three hours, as well as game-day practices. We also do appearances throughout the week. Because I am organized and I enjoy what I do, it has not been too challenging juggling cheering, school, and a part-time job, although my commitments do keep me busy.

Transcript: What made you decide to try out originally for the Patriots? Was there anybody who encouraged you?

Lavoie: My family had a huge part in encouraging me to tryout for the Patriots Cheerleaders. My cousin was a former Patriots cheerleader, and after speaking with her at a family party, I began to search the Patriots Web site for tryout details. At the time, I was dancing for the UMass dance team and decided there was no harm in going to auditions and just giving it a shot. Now months later, I’m on my way to cheer for the AFC champs at the Super Bowl!!!

Transcript: Have you always been a football/Patriots fan? Is it big in your household where you grew up? For instance, my father lives and dies with every play...

Lavoie: I was never really a football fan until I began cheerleading in high school. This was probably because I did not really understand the rules of the game. As I began to understand the game more and more, I began to enjoy watching games more. With my family being huge New England sports fans, I began watching the Patriots regularly.

Transcript: How tough was the tryout process, and what sticks out in your memory about that?

Lavoie: The whole audition process was pretty tough. There were approximately 300 girls at the beginning of the day, which is nerve-wracking when you come into the process alone. There were some gorgeous girls, and some amazing dancers, but you can’t get caught up worrying about other people.

You just have to focus on doing what you came to do, and giving it your all.

At the end of the first day, the number was cut down to about 50 girls. Those 50 girls, as well as the returning veteran cheerleaders, were to come to the stadium for an interview with the coach and for finals auditions. At the end of finals, the number was again reduced to 35 girls for two weeks of practices. During the final practice, the squad of 24 girls was announced. Waiting to hear if my name was called, and hearing that I made the squad was a surreal feeling. I will cherish the moment that I knew I made the squad forever.

Transcript: How busy is your schedule in Phoenix? Does the cheerleading team get time to sightsee together, or is it a tight schedule in terms of practices/rehearsals?

Lavoie: Although I am still not 100 percent positive on what to expect in Arizona, I am anticipating a very hectic and incredibly exciting trip. There are several events at which we are working, parties we are attending, and practices before the big game. I have heard from former cheerleaders who have gone to the Super Bowl to plan on a non-stop, unforgettable experience.

Transcript: Have you made any very close friends through the Patriots — are there other cheerleaders on the squad you've gotten to know well and associate with outside of “work”?

Lavoie: There are 24 girls on the team, and I have grown very close to all of them. The girls are great and we get along better than I could have ever imagined. Outside of cheering we do spend a great deal of time together. Being a student at UMass, I have had the chance to get close to several of the girls who live in the Western Mass. area, and in Connecticut. When in the Tri-town, I also get the chance to hang out with the girls who live closer to the Boston area. So either way, it works out great!

Transcript: Did you/do you play any sports?

Lavoie: I currently do not play any sports, however, growing up I was involved in many activities. When I was a lot younger, I played softball, soccer, field hockey, took karate, baton and several other activities. In high school, I cheered, took gymnastics, danced in a school play, took several dance lessons, and played ice hockey for a year. I kept pretty busy.

Transcript: efore the Super Bowl, what's been your most memorable game this year, from a cheerleading standpoint and from a team standpoint?

Lavoie: My most unforgettable thus far game has to be the last playoff game against the Chargers. The stadium was packed, the fans were great, and there was just so much spirit in the atmosphere. Before the game, Navy planes flew over the stadium — this was really exciting — and as the game neared its final seconds, we all jumped around in a circle celebrating becoming AFC Champs, and the fact we were going to get the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. There were fireworks, and confetti. The whole experience was an amazing reminder of how lucky we are to be apart of this historical season.

Transcript: How do you keep warm when the temperature at Foxboro gets so cold some nights?

Lavoie: There have been several freezing games this year, but we do keep pretty warm. We have hand warmers and feet warmers, and some girls even use heat patches. Because we are dancing and cheering, the movement also helps to keep us warm. Although it is still pretty cold, it’s not as bad as you would think.


Well, Lavoie shouldn’t have that problem out in Phoenix — you’d hope, considering there was some rain and mild weather earlier in the week. Regardless of what is in the sky, it appears that is the limit set for the Patriots, and Lavoie is in the forefront of a very vocal community of fans.

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