Behind The Scenes: Cheerleader Auditions

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Make your own audition memories by getting tickets to the final auditions, this Saturday from 2-4 p.m.

No matter how much you love your job, there are times when the boss asks you to complete a task or make a business trip you’re not excited about. There are even instances in my line of work where I am called upon to complete the not-so-glamorous tasks.

This is not one of those moments.

Last Saturday, I was enlisted to judge the opening round of the 2013 Washington Redskins Cheerleaders auditions. The prospective First Ladies of Football arrived early at FedExField and prepared themselves accordingly, while I waited in the Cheer Studio inside the South Field Tunnel.

A complementary Starbucks breakfast was ready for the judging panel, which totaled roughly 20 Cheerleader coaches, trainers, alumni and enthusiasts. There were approximately 30 women that tried out to be ambassadors and 148 hopefuls for the cheer squad.

I felt a little bad eating coffee cake as the candidates entered in groups of six, but grabbed my clipboard and got ready to make some tough decisions.

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As fans that attend games at FedExField can attest, the Redskins have some of the most physically attractive Cheerleaders in the NFL. These ladies represent their squad well on game day, at events in the community, on military and USO tours, as well as in the calendars and publications. They are also an award-winning dance team, with an emphasis on Jazz.

As the longest-running cheer squad in the NFL (51 seasons), the First Ladies of Football have a commitment to excellence. But as I was reminded on Saturday, they are more than just a pretty face.

Before showing off their dance moves, each of the ladies had the opportunity to introduce herself in her own words. Most of the ladies were very well spoken, and represented a diverse background of the greater Washington community.

There were girls that had grown up only a stone’s throw from the stadium, and also those that had recently immigrated from Japan. There were those that were accomplished collegiate and professional dancers, and others with no formal training. One young lady spent last season cheering with the Arizona Cardinals, and moved with her husband to the Washington, D.C. area. Several represented the United States during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Multiple candidates worked on Capitol Hill or in the business sector downtown. Others were Ph.D candidates at prestigious universities in the area.

But regardless of background, they had one goal in common: to become one of the lucky few to join the Washington Redskins Cheerleader sorority. After all of the candidates walked, talked and danced their hearts out, it was time to see who made the cut.

It was the equivalent of the draft day war room.

From 148 candidates, the judges were charged with eliminating roughly 25 percent of the field in the initial cuts. Having no dance experience myself, I was concerned with how my opinions would compare to others in the group, but was relieved when my choices weren’t too far off base.

The panel of judges was able to eliminate 36 candidates in the first round, passing along 112 to the next round of consideration. Current veteran Redskins Cheerleaders (who did not get a vote) were dispatched to offer words of encouragement and advice to the remaining field. They were also charged with teaching the girls a basic eight-step dance routine that would be used for consideration during the next round in the afternoon.

By the end of the day, the 2013 Washington Redskins Cheerleader squad would be much clearer, with the field cut in half and only the best candidates remaining. As for me, my work there was finished, as I got the exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Cheerleader auditions and played some very, very small role in shaping the squad.

From here, the ladies will learn complex routines and prepare for final auditions, which will be held for public consumption this Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at the State Theater in Falls Church, Va. This event is open to the public, who is encouraged to buy tickets in advance, as the show is expected to be a sellout.

Hope to see you there, and Hail to the Redskins Cheerleaders.

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