Monday, September 22, 2008

Making the cut a long process 

Posted by Sasha at 7:42 PM ET

200 tried out for 31 slots
By Stacy Smith Segovia
The Leaf-Chronicle
September 21, 2008

Brintley Clark has learned, by living it, exactly what it takes to be a Titans cheerleader. She earned the position after a month-long tryout process that whittled a pool of 200 women down to the 31 selected for the job.

"There were about 200 girls who came on a Saturday morning. We were there at 8 o'clock until about 6," Brintley says. "We learned a routine, then got cut, then semifinals, then cut, then finals. For about a month we had Tuesday, Thursday practices. Fifty made it to finals. Once that month was up, we had finals night. We performed in groups of three. We did a parade of beauty and an interview with the coach."

Brintley had to have her own unique costume, including boots, for the final performance. She found out the same night of her final audition performance that she made the cut. But the prep work wasn't over.

"Once we made the squad, we had to go through appearance training, etiquette training, hair and makeup training, then we had to take a test with some political questions and lots of football questions," Brintley says. "If you didn't pass the test, you were off the squad."

Since then, Brintley has worked intensely as a Titans cheerleader. Before preseason games started, she practiced about three hours a day Tuesdays-Saturdays.

"We had fitness Fridays," Brintley says. "At the end of three fitness Fridays we had to run a mile in eight minutes, do 25 pushups, 25 v-ups and step-ups in two minutes."

During the preseason, Brintley practiced Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for three hours at Nashville Athletic Club. When the regular season started, practices dropped to Tuesdays and Thursdays, but game day demands can be brutal.

"For game days, we have to be there at 7:30. The game starts at 12," Brintley says. "We practice all of our dances on the field, then all 31 girls get in line to do hair and makeup. We need every minute of that time!"

In addition to practices and game-day performances, Brintley makes public appearances with Titans cheerleaders or football players. Brintley says she hasn't yet met most of the Titans football team.

"Of course, cheerleaders are not allowed to date football players," she says, adding that the rule is irrelevant to her because she has a boyfriend.

Because Brintley lives just outside Clarksville in Cedar Hill, she also has the many-times-per-week drive to Nashville to contend with. The pay for cheerleaders is surprisingly low, especially when compared to the multi-million-dollar deals signed by the football players they support. Brintley says most of her fellow cheerleaders have full-time jobs unrelated to cheerleading. Brintley works part-time as a teller for Planters Bank.

"If you do something like Titans cheerleading, you're not doing it for the money," Brintley says. "You're doing it for the fans."

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