Thursday, May 29, 2008

2003 Willmar High School graduate selected as cheerleader for Vikings 

Posted by Sasha at 8:10 PM ET

By T.J. Bartelt
West Central Tribune
Thursday, May 29, 2008

What’s it like to be a cheerleader for a National Football League franchise?

Andrea Marcus gets a crash course in it.

The 2003 Willmar graduate was one of 34 chosen for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders this month, out of approximately 250 candidates in a more than two-month process.

“It’s always been in the back of mind to try the auditions and see how far I could go,” said Marcus, who performed with the Cardettes in high school. “It’s been a surprise and a blessing.”

The tryouts started with a workshop in March for interested women, which is used to give them information on what the tryouts will be like. The March tryouts narrowed the field to 55.

And the intensity picked up.

“It was more than I ever expected. I danced a little bit in college, but it wasn’t like the intensity with the Cardettes or studio dancing,” Marcus said. “I thought I would just dance with some talented women for one day and that would be it.”

The chosen 55 went through three weeks of training camp in April. They learned routines and cheers three days a week for 3½ hours a day. They also got to learn a little more about the organization and worked with the Vikings’ trainers.

She said the training she received in the dance studio and with the Cardettes helped her keep up.

“Dance is one of those things that if you step away from it for a while, you can work really hard and get back into it,” she noted. “The kicks we did in Cardettes and dance skills we learned are some things I never let go of. That prepared me. My kicks are getting better than they have been.”

But dancing and cheering are only part of the job. These cheerleaders have to represent the Vikings in the best light possible.

“We are looking for women we feel will be excellent ambassadors for the Vikings and represent what we call ‘The Whole Package.’ ” said Tami Krause, Vikings’ Cheerleader head coach and coordinator, by email. “They must be someone who is not only a talented performer, but outgoing, intelligent, well spoken, beautiful and a huge Vikings fan!”

So, they threw the candidates into the fire, so to speak, at the Vikings Draft Party over the NFL Draft weekend. There, they mixed among fans young and old, promoting the team.

“When I was at the draft party, there was a little girl who came up and asked for my autograph,” Marcus recalled. “As people were leaving, she came up to me and gave me a hug. I knew that if I didn’t make the team this year, I would definitely keep trying.”

She didn’t need to worry about next year.

The training camp culminated in a performance at the Mall of America almost two weeks ago. They went through four dance routines and a kick routine in front of hundreds of fans.

In the end, Marcus was one of the lucky ones to be chosen.

“Every day is a new adventure. You never know what you’re going to get at practice,” she said of her days since being picked. “It’s crazy how quickly things have changed. I still feel like the same person, but it’s crazy that people recognize me.”

She’ll have to juggle a full-time job as a nurse at a Twin Cities-area hospital, where she works the overnight shift.

“It’s not that different from working the day job and then going to practice,” Marcus said. I usually go to practice and then right to work. It works out better than if I was working any other shift.”

It sounds like Marcus is ready for a new adventure in her life. Not only will she be cheering at Vikings home games this coming season, she’ll make a lot of appearances this offseason, including a possible Willmar stop for the Shriners’ Toy Run on June 8.

“They rehearse three days a week, workout on their own, do community, charity and corporate events a minimum of two to four times a month, dance at all Vikings home games and more!” Krause noted.

Listening to Marcus talk about this new opportunity, one comes away feeling she got much more than she could have even hoped for.

“The thing I look forward to most know is being able to dance in front of 65,000 people. I love performing in front of huge crowds,” she said.

And that’s just as important to her as cheering for her favorite football team.

“Last year I spent every Sunday all day long watching football,” Marcus said. “This is really cool to be a part of it.”

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