Thursday, April 24, 2008

AFC Fan Judge Blogs About Tryout Experience 

Posted by Sasha at 9:09 PM ET

Atlanta Falcons
Monday April 21, 2008

My day as a Falcon's Cheerleader Judge!
by AFC fan rev_hal

We all have those important days in our lives. The day we get married. They day our child is born. Well, I had one of those days this past weekend. I was fortunate enough to be a judge at the Atlanta Falcon’s Cheerleaders tryouts. While not really up there with marriage and child birth, it was a pretty cool day.

I arrived in the morning at one of the huge ballrooms at the World Congress Center. Immediately when I arrived, I was surrounded by close to 190 girls stretching and warming up for the competition. It was spandex heaven. While I was not really sure what to expect, what I found were lots of young, hard-working dancers who were very serious about this competition. When we guys think of the word “cheerleader”, we tend to think of the stereotype “GO TEAM” rah rah girls from high school. But I can tell you that each and every one of those girls trying out were serious athletes.

Before the actual competition started, several of the current cheerleaders, led by Kristy, taught the competitors a routine that was “four counts of eight” (for those that know dancer-speak). For those that don’t know Kristy off the top of your head, she is the cheerleader that is easiest to identify from section 322 – she is the one with the big, Curly bouncy hair. For the last 5 years, she has been the easiest person to spot out of the 72,000 people in the Georgia Dome (yes, I have hair envy).

After Kristy and the gang taught the new girls the routine, the competitors performed for the judges in groups of six. I was near the end, and was sitting next to Ginger, who works for the Falcons Radio Network. We had a great time chatting down at our end of the table.

For the first round of the competition, we had to give a “yes” or “no” for each girl. It was really tough, because almost all of the girls were really talented and attractive. We voted on all 185-plus competitors. The field was then narrowed down to roughly 100 girls.

We broke for lunch, where we had this great spread where you made your own sandwiches. I had lunch with several of the other judges, including a former Falcon’s and Titan’s cheerleader. During lunch, I sat and listened to them talk about what makes a good dancer/cheerleader. I tried to soak as much of it up, so I could pretend that I knew what the heck I was doing.

This is some video of the girls learning the routine.

The current Falcon’s Cheerleaders performed several times during the day, doing quick routines. What was fascinating was watching all of the hopefuls drop what they were doing to see our current cheerleaders dance. It didn’t seem like much at first, but I realized soon just how inspirational the Falcon’s Cheerleaders were to the hopefuls. It dawned on me that these girls trying out were trying to make one of their dreams come true by making the squad. The significance of the day took a whole new meaning for me.

Here are the cheerleaders performing for the competitors.

During lunch, the first cuts were made, and around 100 girls made it to round two. Kristy and the gang then taught the remaining competitors the “second half” of the routine that they learned earlier in the day. Then, we judged the second round in groups of four girls at a time. This time, we gave the girls a score in three different categories – Appearance, Dancing Skills and Showmanship.

After 25 or so groups, the judging was done for the day.

At the end, 50 girls were selected to participate in the final competition this Thursday night. Thanks to the incredible New Media gang at the Falcons, we will be able to watch the competition on a webcast. I can tell you out of the 50 girls that made the final cut, at least 16 of them will be cheerleaders this season, and you would not be disappointed in ANY of them. They are all beautiful and talented and the 2008 squad of cheerleaders will be spectacular.

The highlights of the day for me were actually getting to meet several of the current cheerleading squad. I spent a long time speaking with Kristy – what a fantastic person! Not only is she phenomenally pretty, but she is very smart as well. She works as a Business Analyst with one of the top consulting firms in Atlanta and her husband is a trainer for professional athletes. She was telling me how she was recently working out beside Takeo Spikes. Sadly, Kristy is retiring from the squad this year.

I also had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Laura and Carey. They are the pair of sisters on the squad, and they are two of the sweetest people you will ever meet. Laura is also retiring this year, but Carey will be back in action on the sidelines.

I left this day with a new perspective on what it meant to be an Atlanta Falcon’s Cheerleader. These are more than just pretty faces that dance and entertain during the breaks of the football game. These are serious dancing professionals that are living out a dream, and they understand just how awesome this opportunity can be. These girls are not “eye candy” – they are part of the team and the experience of a Falcon’s Sunday. They are ambassadors into the community, and they represent our team with class, beauty and dignity. They are also lawyers, nurses, business professionals and mothers. What I learned this weekend is that these ladies are really something special, and they have my deepest respect.

Thanks to Chato (Falcons Cheerleader Coordinator), Dan, J. Mike, and everyone that made this day possible.

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