Saturday, September 06, 2008
By Vicky Thomas
[Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders]
E-A-G-L- well, anyone who has been to a bar or attended a Philly sports game is more than familiar with the most popular chant in Philadelphia, but only 38 girls can say they get paid to profess their love of the Birds in public.
Though knowledge of football rules is more of a bonus, "bleeding green" is mandatory to be an Eagles cheerleader.
"We look for women that encompass all of the qualities of a cheerleader. That includes being passionate about the Philadelphia Eagles and being an Eagles fan," said Barbara Zaun, Director of Cheerleading.
"I'm a huge Eagles fan and always have been," said Jamie Steinberger, 23, a third-year veteran of the Eagles cheerleading squad. "I've got the best seat in the stadium. Cheering for my favorite football team and having a front-row seat, it's worth the practice all year."
Three-year veteran Jamie
Steinberger, a Glen Mills resident, recently graduated from West Chester University with a kinesiology degree and is working toward a master's degree in psychology.
Cheering for the Birds is a part-time gig, and most cheerleaders either attend universities as full-time students or hold other jobs.
Cheerleaders are paid hourly for every rehearsal, appearance, game, or photo-shoot, and monthly salaries normally range from $700 to $1,000, depending on the amount of appearances, Zaun said.
"The cheerleaders also enjoy additional benefits throughout the year, such as an all-expense trip to the calendar shoot location, which this year was in the Dominican Republic," said Zaun.
Danni-Lynn Bell, a new addition to the squad, said she's looking forward to seeing the games in person, rather than from her living room.
"I watch at home with my dad and his friends all the time. We've always been fans," said Bell, a 21-year-old Media resident.
Bell is joined on the squad by her sisters, 18-year-old rookie Paige, and 23-year-old Nikki, who cheered for the Eagles last year.
"I can't wait for the first game to see how many people there are and how big and overwhelming it will be," said Danni-Lynn, a fashion merchandising major at West Chester University. "The other girls try to tell us stories about what it will be like, but I think I can't understand the experience until I'm out there."
Danni-Lynn and Paige got an idea of what a regular-season game is like when they cheered at the preseason game against the Carolina Panthers Aug. 14.
"It poured that night but the fans were good about it ... you would think so many would have left because of the thunderstorm and pouring rain and lightning, but so many stayed and were so excited about it," said Danni-Lynn. "Even though it was a preseason, the fans care ... It's great to know they're so dedicated."
The Bell sisters, all Strath Haven High School graduates, got a glimpse of former classmate Dan Connor's NFL debut at the preseason game.
The Penn State graduate was a third-round pick for the Panthers last April and made a pair of tackles in the fourth quarter of the preseason game.
"I watched his plays and he did an incredible job," said Paige, who was a freshman at Strath Haven when Connor was a senior. "It was really cool to cheer for him in high school and cheer at NFL game with him. I wasn't cheering for his team, but it was cool to be in the same place as him."
"It was pretty funny," said Nikki. "We were wishing him well, but at same time we want to win."
While she doesn't have any blood relatives on the squad, Steinberger said the close friendships she's made with her fellow cheerleaders is one reason she keeps coming back. "We get along a lot better than people realize," said Steinberger. "Being around the girls, you make close friends. It's a great experience."
[Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders]