Monday, April 07, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
By Brett Grassmuck
St. Louis Rams
Just a few weeks before NFL Draft hopefuls parade through the doors of the Russell Training Center for their final pre-draft workout, more than 90 Rams cheerleader hopefuls danced on the turf of the Rams practice field vying for a spot on the Rams cheerleading roster.
Each of these girls auditioned in front of a panel of 18 judges, including tight end Dominque Byrd, wide receiver Marques Hagans, cornerback Jonathan Wade and defensive tackle Claude Wroten.
To prepare themselves for the Saturday morning audition, the ladies attended two audition clinics earlier in the week where they learned the routine they would be performing.
“We bring out our choreographer from L.A. and he teaches them the audition routine and gives them tips and pointers on how to perform in front of the judges,” said Theresa Mancini, the Rams cheerleader coordinator.
The only ladies that are a lock to make the squad are the five captains, Megan B., Erin, Emily, Valerie and Megan W., who are on hand to assist with the audition process.
Kristin Dinga, a high school special education teacher, is auditioning for the third time this season after spending the past two seasons on the Rams cheerleading squad. She is one of several returning cheerleaders trying to keep their spots on the team.
“You never know,” Dinga said. “I feel like it’s gotten scarier, because you know what you have to lose if you don’t make it again. Each year it’s the same thing, we never know. Our spots aren’t saved.”
Among the group was first-time auditioner Holly Patrick, who was a dancer at Pattonville High School and Lindenwood University.
“It was kind of what I expected, but they let us know what to expect, how everything is going to be set up and who’s going to be here watching,” Holly said. “If you’ve auditioned before I guess you kind of have a better idea.”
The cheerleading hopefuls were split into groups of three, with each trio walking in front of the judges, introducing themselves and then performing a 30-second routine to the song “Low” by Flo Rida. The routine is similar to something the cheerleaders would perform during a timeout at one of the Rams home games.
“I don’t think I’ll ever listen to that song again,” Patrick said. “Not after this week.”
When all the groups had performed, the ladies waited while the judges deliberated on the auditions. A first cut was made shortly after the audition process.
The remaining group was led through a series of dance steps by the Rams cheerleading captains. The process is basically the dancing equivalent of the players going through basic football fundamental drills, tackling, blocking, passing, catching, etc.
Another cut was made later in the afternoon, trimming the squad to the semi-finalists. This group will face another week of audition rehearsals as well as a photo-shoot and, much like the NFL Draft hopefuls at the combine, a lengthy interview process.
The final Rams cheerleader roster will be announced April 18.