Sunday, February 03, 2008
By Hannah Karp
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are getting a lot of credit. But Tracy Sormanti, Cheerleader Director for the Patriots, says her 24-girl squad could have more of an effect on Sunday’s game than most people realize.
Sitting on couches in the cramped lobby of the Sleep Inn, tucked behind a strip-mall Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale, Ariz., Ms. Sormanti and four squad members explained after practice Thursday how they turned around the Pats’ Jan. 12 playoff game against the Jaguars. En route from Shanghai to Singapore on a trip to promote American football in China, the Cheerleaders saw the score of the game on TV: Pats down by 7. So they took swift action, joining hands and forming their good-luck “unity circle.” By the time they landed, the Pats had won.
“I don’t think Belichick knows we had that much to do with it,” says Ms. Sormanti, who started cheerleading with the Patriots in 1983 and has been their director since 1994.
The squad has been practicing its Super Bowl routine for nearly six weeks amid guarded optimism that the Pats would make it to the championship game. The Super Bowl’s host committee gets to choose the music, so the cheerleaders have to adapt their routines accordingly. The most challenging song: “Are you Gonna Be My Girl” by Australian rock band Jet.
“It’s not on an eight-count, so it throws things off a little,” says Ms. Sormanti.
As for the Giants, they don’t have cheerleaders and never have — tradition, says a Giants spokesman. Chris Tracy, a die-hard Pats fan drinking with a friend in a bar near the cheerleaders’ hotel and bracing for “smack talk” with New York fans this weekend (and “probably some gun play”), says the Giants are “probably too cheap to hire cheerleaders.”
Mr. Tracy, a 37-year-old pharmaceutical salesman from Boston, says he felt eerily outnumbered by Giants fans when he arrived at the airport Thursday. So he was pleasantly surprised to discover he was staying in the same hotel as the cheer squad — a discovery made when 20 of the women walked into the bar for salads, cheeseburgers and chocolate cake on the house.
But the cheerleaders’ appearance sparked a less-enthusiastic reaction from Giants fans on the deck outside. Erik Linner, 39, drinking beer with some of his real-estate sales colleagues after the performers had left, says real sports fans don’t want cheerleaders distracting from the game — and he’s glad that the Giants don’t have any.
“The essence of football has been lost with all the cheerleading and all the other stuff that goes on now during the game,” Mr. Linner said. “Plus, the winds that blow out of East Rutherford are pretty cold.”