Friday, July 11, 2008

Sneak peeks at Eagles ‘eco-sexy’ calendar 

Posted by Sasha at 5:47 PM ET

By Peter Mucha
Staff Writer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Jul. 11, 2008

You're seeing them here first - pages from the eco-friendly calendar the Eagles won't officially unveil until a private party Wednesday night.

Who'll be on the cover is still hush-hush.

"It is a tremendous accolade for the cheerleader that graces the cover," said Barbara Zaun, Eagles director of cheerleading. "Her photo will be visible at bookstores nationwide on the shelves right next to covers of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Maxim, Cosmo and other top publications."

But four of the calendar's 16 months - printed on stock that's largely recycled paper - can now be revealed:

They're all young women in organic cotton bikinis. [photos]

And more than that.

Devan West, 20, is majoring in business as well as dance at Temple. She's November 2008.

Lauren Keeley, 22, is a special-ed teacher hoping to get her master's to help autistic kids. She's March 2009.

Kjersti Soberg, 21, a Norwegian-born University of the Arts dance major, was part of the squad that recently entertained troops in Kuwait and Iraq. She's April.

Stephanie Herzka, 22, is a University of Delaware grad and a nursing assistant, hoping to become a physician's assistant. She's May.

Along with the 34 other squad members, they flew to the Dominican resort town of Punta Cana in early May to shoot the National Football League's first environmentally savvy calendar.

The Eagles dubbed it "eco-sexy."

It says so right on Keeley's bikini.

The pendant on her necklace has two green footprints, she said, symbolizing "the carbon footprint everyone leaves upon the world."

Because of the shoot, she's more aware of what we all can do, she said. She walks more, uses less electricity, and expects to spread the message to her students.

The Eagles even plant trees at Neshaminy State Park to help offset their fuel use - like the cheerleaders' commercial flight to Punta Cana, she said.

The club, through its "Go Green" program, incorporates recycling and alternative energy use into every corner of the franchise, from biodegradable beverage cups and to the solar panels atop the corporate headquarters.

Of course, there is a money side. Not that selling 25,000 copies of last year's calendar for $14.95 offsets more than a fraction of the new cornerback's signing bonus.

The calendar shoot was just part of the busy squad's off-season schedule, which began with the Eagles draft party in April and will continue with appearances at training camp this month.

Several cheerleaders will be at camp every day, Herzka said, shortly after finishing a chemistry exam.

The squad also practices two days every week at a South Philadelphia gym.

No, they don't get special lessons in dealing with Neanderthal fans - "I don't find our fans to be any more vulgar or abusive," she said - but the new squad has almost mastered the routines they'll perform for the first preseason game, she said.

The squad's five new "shows" and five repeats cover the two preseason and eight regular season games, she said.

Even the Dominican trip included regular cheerleading practice as well as participation at resort events - including a trapeze-learning activity, Keeley said.

Last month, five cheerleaders toured bases in Kuwait and Iraq, doing 45-minute shows at military bases.

Soberg, who helped emcee, described how she'd get soldiers onstage, then tell them they were in a push-up contest - vs. cheerleader Rachel.

Sometimes Rachel won.

Well, she is a member of the Army ROTC at Drexel.

The five cheerleaders were so moved by the troops' dedication, they've continued to try to boost soldiers' morale since returning, Soberg said.

"Troops have contracting me in various ways, and I've basically been doing everything I can possibly can," she said. "I understand what a difference we can make here stateside, even something as simple as a letter."

She's also been sending care packages at her own expense.

She had a great time working on the calendar.

"It's very interesting to be doing something that no NFL squad has ever done before," she said.

It's always nice to do a calendar ... but to do it for a great cause makes it even better," said Herzka, who was March last year.

The calendar also has a back-cover model and a collage of the other 20 cheerleaders - so every woman has an image in the publication, Zaun said.

To do otherwise would be a waste of energy.

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