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Captain Susan Hangs Up Her Poms

Hi Redskins Nation,

Wow, it's been a quite a ride. As I try and sum up the past three years in a few short paragraphs, I'm not sure where to begin. My apology in advance if this is not so brief…

Although I'm sure it's a bit obvious by now, I'm writing to share that I have retired my boots and my poms, and I will not be returning for the 2014 season. While life is leading me away from the DMV and I'm ecstatic about my year ahead, this transition is nothing short of bittersweet.

Thinking back to my rookie season audition, I can say with certainty that I would never have predicted the ways in which this team has become a part of me. The reasons that I finally tried out (after a few years spent building up the courage, of course) were the same reasons many women do – to continue dancing at the professional level, to be a part of the Redskins organization, because I love football, etc. – however, these only scratch the surface of things that I'll miss the most.

I've formed lifelong bonds – with my current teammates, as well as the legacy of women that have come before (and will come after) me. I've traveled to eight new countries and met inspiring members of the U.S. Armed Forces, fans, and many children who will touch my life forever. I was a part of the country's first National Dance Day, performed alongside MC Hammer, and visited Lambeau Field alongside some of the best fans in the NFL. Most importantly, I've grown as a professional, leader, dancer, teammate, and friend.

While there are many misconceptions about professional cheerleading, my favorite ones to dispel are that being an NFL cheerleader is all that we do/are, or that we must do it for the "glamour," the photo shoots or lack self-esteem, given the uniforms that we wear. Most people are pleasantly surprised to learn that my teammates and I balance full-time careers as teachers, nurses, engineers, accountants and managers, being mothers, and/or managing full-time school schedules. We strive to be ambassadors of fitness, embody a healthy lifestyle (if you could sneak a peak inside our locker room, you'd see how much we actually eat to get through an 8 hour gameday!), and that while our annual calendar trip is a highlight of the season, it's the new friendships and closeness we form as a new team that matters most.

For me personally, it was the relentless support of you, our fans, the opportunity to have been a part of something bigger than myself, the chance to have made a difference in the community, the feeling of electricity that pulses through the air on gameday, and even the experience of having danced through a literal "HAIL" storm this past season that I'll take with me forever.

So with my first round of "thanks" as I close this chapter, I'd like to thank our Directors for their trust in choosing me for this elite team three years ago and allowing me to serve in a leadership position for two years. Thank you to the all of the WRC alumni who helped build this team on such a strong foundation of tradition and love, contributing to what the organization is today. To the soon-to-be 2014 team, never take for granted this opportunity that you're about to be given and take the time to get to know and appreciate the women that came before you. I hope to embody at least a glimmer of the class, care, and beauty (both inside and out) that carries them through life today – "once a WRC, always a WRC."  To the 2014 captains, you girls know that you each have a special place in my heart, and I can't wait to see what the year ahead has in store for you. You're going to be amazing.

Lastly, I wouldn't have made it through these past three seasons without the unwavering love and support of my family, my friends, and most importantly, my fiancé, who despite all of the stress and anxiety that can come with balancing a full-time career, personal life, and this team, never allowed me to lose sight of my love for the WRC and who continues to be the strongest support system and source of love, humor, and motivation I could ever ask for.

My only regret I have as I leave is that I didn't audition sooner….

Thanks for the memories and until we meet again,

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