Thursday, February 26, 2009
By Peter Mucha, Staff Writer
Feb. 17, 2009
[Last] weekend's combine isn't the only talent search gearing up in the NFL.
During the next nine weeks, the Eagles will host a series of events to restock their cheerleading squad.
Every year, about 15 rookies earn spots, along with about two dozen returning vets.
"We have a really busy couple of months planned," said Barbara Zaun, director of cheerleading.
And that's not including late April's NFL draft party, the yearly May calendar shoot, or the July visit by six cheerleaders to Iraq to entertain troops.
Regular Eagles fans should know that only two of these events are open to the public, the draft party and the April 21 cheerleader audition finals.
This year, the finale will be at a smaller venue, the Prince Music Theater in Center City. So the tickets - $22.50 each - are likely to disappear quickly when they go on sale later this month, Zaun said.
Here are the dates that rah-rah wannabes, who must be 18 and a high school graduate, will want to know:
Pre-Audition Workshop, Feb. 25. Optional event at Lincoln Financial Field. Experts, including team choreographer Suzy Zucker, will advise about dancing, hair and makeup, and health and fitness. Includes mock tryout, plus question-and-answer session with current cheerleaders. No judging. Cost is $45.
Open Call Tryouts, March 28. Lincoln Financial Field. Required for would-be rookies. Hundreds of women learn a dance routine, then take turns performing in groups of five before two panels of judges.
Audition Semifinals, March 30 and April 1: About 130 invitees, including squad members seeking to return, will be given a dance routine to learn at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia. The following day, they'll perform in groups of three, and talk with judges about themselves.
Audition Finals, April 21: Sixty finalists will compete in a variety of categories, including dance, fitness and beauty at Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St.
Next week's workshop will be limited to 250 contestants, who will automatically be registered for the open-call auditions, Zaun said.
The workshop helps women who might be worried about their confidence, and can improve prospects' chances, Zaun said. They get how-to tips on everything from fitness ("to firm up your abs, exactly") to beauty ("to help them understand the glamorous aspect of being an Eagles cheerleader") to proper nutrition.
Improve your diet, she said, and "your body's going to look much better in just a month's time."
For sign-up information, go to www.philadelphiaeagles.com and click "Cheerleaders."
Once the squad is set, following the finals, members quickly prepare for the new squad's debut at the annual draft day party.
Then comes the calendar shoot.
"We are looking for a tropical destination again, and most likely it would early to mid May," Zaun said.
The cheerleaders, who are paid an hourly rate, make $400 to $1,000 a month and usually hold other jobs.