Life As An NFL Cheerleader

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When I tried out for my first NFL team, I had no idea what I was getting into! Coming from a theatrical dance and all-star cheerleading background, I definitely had the skill set to perform on the field with the best of them, however it took a lot more than raw talent to call myself a pro cheerleader! Many people inquire about my journey and what it’s like to become an NFL Cheerleader. Above all, cheering in the Pros is very rewarding, prestigious, and glamorous to say the least!

What is it?

There is no greater feeling in the world than setting a goal and seeing it come to life! With that said so many women try out for NFL Cheer teams every season in hopes of dancing on the sidelines, however only a select few women are honored to call themselves NFL Cheerleaders.  This elite group of beautiful, talented, motivated, and inspirational women are in most cases the “face” of many NFL organizations.  In addition to performing during football games, Cheerleaders attend several charity events and promotional appearances on behalf of their teams.

Traditional Cheer vs. NFL

You won’t find any stunting here! Although there are some teams who have incorporated collegiate coed stunting to their game day experience, most NFL Cheerleading teams are non-stunting dance teams.  The name “Cheerleading” simply comes from the fact that:

1) We perform on the sidelines

2) We are gorgeous and have sparkly uniforms

3) We dance with Pom Poms (and boots!)

The Choreography is a style very specific to the NFL. This “Cheer-Dance” style is literally a mix of cheerleading motion technique, mixed with jazz dance. Add our signature hair whips, head pops, and “sexy walks” and voila! You have NFL Pro Cheer Dance!

In addition, tumbling is not required for NFL Cheerleading. Although some teams incorporate women who can do tricks, tumbling is a highlight rather than a staple in NFL Choreography.  Overall, the look of an NFL Cheerleader is more curated than in college and all-star cheer. NFL Cheerleaders generally go for a “naturally glamorous” look as opposed to a sporty look. We forgo the sparkles and team tatoos on our faces and wear our hair down as opposed to in a ponytail.

Daily Routine

Working as a NFL Cheerleader (yes it is actually my job), requires a lot of organization and time management. NFL Cheerleaders generally have other careers in addition to performing on the sidelines. Between practices, games, event rehearsals, and appearances, keeping a calendar is a must!

In addition to my 40 hour a week full-time job working as a College Dance Coach/Cheer & Dance Consultant, I practice with my team three nights a week for three hours. I prepare myself for practice and games by working out consistently and devoting 2 hours daily to practicing our 50+ routines! If I have any extra time I sleep! This life can be exhausting but it is well worth it in the end!

GameDay

Game Day can be described as “all of your favorite holidays wrapped in one, but with a whole lot of hard work!”  There is such a rush that comes from feeling the electrifying energy of the crowd.  Performing for 30,000 fans is undoubtedly a unique experience. Most NFL Cheerleaders will always remember the first time their toes touched the field on gameday.

We often arrive looking “Game Day Cute”, meaning we have our hair and makeup done to perfection! After a four hour field rehearsal (yes we do practice on game day as well), we head back to the locker room to freshen up.  After grabbing a bite to eat, we will go mix and mingle with our fans in designated spots around the stadium.  Some women will perform as part of a group or showteam.  It is a very hectic but exciting day! And that’s even before kickoff!

Misconceptions

There is a mystery that surrounds the world of NFL Cheerleading. Due to this, there are many misconceptions of what it’s really like to live the pro cheer life. As with Cheerleading in general, many assume that cheering on a NFL team  requires little to no effort. But my darlings, we make it look effortless! Our performances look flawless because we have practiced over 300 hours during the season! But don’t be fooled. On average NFL Cheerleaders burn up to 1200 calories per practice/game! In addition we most teams go through a rigorous training camp just like the NFL players!

Prior to making my first team, I thought NFL Cheerleading looked easy, however I was quickly corrected after my first field rehearsal.   Collegiate and All-Star Cheerleaders making the leap to the world of NFL Cheerleading should understand that although the style is different and emphasis is placed on your overall appearance and performance, the work ethic is still just as challenging! (Oh and add the stressful/exciting element of being a high profile public figure–but I will speak more about that at another time).

It is a great accomplishment to land a coveted spot on a NFL Cheerleading team. On average over 8,000 women try out each season for a spot on a NFL team and only about 10% can call themselves NFL Cheerleaders each season. This unique role lends itself to the amazing opportunity for NFL Cheerleaders to become role models and inspirational motivators because we have accomplished a goal with unfavorable odds.  Above all, practicing confidence and teamwork on the field and humility off the field is paramount to why we do what we do. Living a life of poised perfection isn’t easy but someone’s gotta do it!

 

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Kristin Dungee

Kristin Dungee is a professional dancer, coach, and choreographer with over 20 years of professional dance, cheerleading, and entertainment industry experience. Kristin is a highly sought after director and choreographer specializing in talent development and training. In addition, she has a BS in Marketing from Florida State University and is currently a NFL Cheerleader as well as a Cheer/Dance Consultant for Game Day Cute.

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