Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Bedford native and UNH student represents Patriots in annual Sports Illustrated issue 

Posted by Sasha at 5:34 PM ET

February 26, 2008
Fosters Daily Democrat

DURHAM — From the little town of Bedford, N.H., to the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, New England Patriots cheerleader Meghan White has got it going on.

White, a University of New Hampshire communications major and English journalism minor, was one of 12 NFL cheerleaders to appear in the 2008 Sport Illustrated's annual swimsuit edition.

It was the magazine's first swimsuit edition to feature NFL cheerleaders.

The 2004 Manchester West High School graduate, who was born and raised in Bedford, said she had to keep her appearance in Sports Illustrated under wraps for several months before it hit newsstands earlier this month.

"I found out last May when flying home from our 2008 (Patriots) calendar shooting," White said in a phone interview. "I was shocked ... It was hard to keep it under wraps for so long."

White, who has been on the Patriots cheerleading squad for two seasons now, said the one-day shoot took place in Manhattan.

"It was a great experience," White said, adding she still has to flip to the cover of the magazine when she sees the picture to make sure it's Sports Illustrated she's looking at. "There's a lot of work that goes into it, and you just have to put your trust in your editors that they pick the right picture."

The 11 other cheerleaders were from teams throughout the league, including the Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders.

White, an avid dancer, trained for 10 years at the Bedford Dance Center and was a member of the UNH Dance Company her freshman and sophomore years.

But she had never done any cheering before auditioning for the Patriots squad in 2006.

"I just wanted to try something knew and expand upon what I love most, which is performing," said White.

She went into the auditions with no expectations but came out as a member of the squad. The audition process includes part dancing and part personal interview, said White, and focuses on overall physical fitness.

Besides attending practices twice a week and games when she can, all while juggling the schedule of a full-time student, White travels across the world with the squad. Those trips promote the Patriots and American football. During her travels, she's been to China and to visit American troops in Iraq, Turkey, Germany and England during Operation Seasons Greetings, an event held last Thanksgiving.

"When I went to visit the troops overseas, that was probably the most humbling thing I've ever had to do," she said.

White, a news junkie and sports fan, said she's pursuing a career in broadcast journalism, though she doesn't know if she wants to be "on camera or off."

"Growing up in a household where athletics played where a big part, I always liked sports broadcasting," she said.

Super Bowl XLII was tough in the White household; Meghan's father, Joe, is a New York Giants fan.

"I did have a better seat than my dad," said White, who was at the game. She said it was a pretty competitive atmosphere before and after the game between the two.

"I let him have his glory," said White about the loss. "And hopefully we can get his team next year."

Joe jokes that there was a "DMZ (demilitarized zone) in the house" for a while.

His daughter has had quite an experience with the Patriots, he said, doing things she might not have been able to do otherwise, like traveling around the world.

"She's really gotten to travel quite a distance, where she wouldn't normally if she wasn't a (Patriots) cheerleader," he said.

And the Sports Illustrated shoot was just the tip of the iceberg.

"We were totally shocked," Joe said, referring to the reaction he and his wife, Anne, had when they found out Meghan would be in the magazine.

White said she'll be auditioning for her third and final year with the Patriots cheerleading squad this spring. In the meantime, she's sending out resumes in pursuit of a career in broadcasting.

The 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is on newsstands now.

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