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Redskins Rookie Cheerleaders Reflect On Experiences With Team

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NIKKI

TIME TO ROCK!

What's Draft Day?!... I'm kidding! I had never been to Draft Day as a fan, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I've been to countless games, and I've seen the cheerleaders on the field, so in my mind, that was what I thought we did. A stage and table signing? These things were new to me!

As a rookie class, we were given a routine to learn for Draft Day. I would practice every night when I got home from work. When it came time for team practice, our class had the steps memorized, but something was missing. We went over and over the routine with our captains, and each other, but we couldn't figure out what was off. Finally, we were told that every rookie class before us had performed this same routine. That was it! To be part of a tradition like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! We couldn't let those who had come before us down - we had to ROCK it out!

Call time was 6 a.m., and my alarm was set - probably multiple alarms - but that didn't matter because I was so excited, I couldn't sleep! This would be the first time I was performing with a team in THREE years, and my first performance as a WRC Rookie!

Once I arrived at the field, I was able to hang out with the fans, which was something I missed doing as a Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador. One of my favorite things about the fans were their outfits! Anyone can buy NFL gear, but Redskins fans have the best style and flair! Between the fans outfits and excitement, I realized what an important tradition Draft Day is.

When it was time for the performance, my entire rookie class and I were ready to show off all of our hard work, and I could tell the fans were ready too. To be honest, I was extremely nervous for my first performance, but as soon as I looked at the crowd and saw everyone cheering for us, I felt right at home

PURA VIDA

When I found out I made the team, going to the calendar shoot had not even crossed my mind. I think I have tunnel vision for the field, but can you blame me?? One day at practice it hit me: I was going to Costa Rica with the team to shoot the calendar! THE Washington Redskins Cheerleader Calendar! The very same calendar I have in my home office/workout room for motivation. I couldn't have been more excited!

Day One: We hit the ground running, literally! We checked into the hotel room and changed into our uniforms for video bios. After everyone was done, we had dinner and a group meeting. I think my roommates and I were too tired to even talk to one another when we got to the room. Sleep was definitely needed.

Day Two: So I'll be honest, I am NOT the adventurous type. The craziest thing I think I've ever done is paddle boarding, and yet I signed up to go zip lining in Costa Rica! I figured I could do anything now that I was a WRC Rookie. When we got to the place, we suited up and went zipping over the trees. We nailed it! But there's more, a mile more in fact. Turns out the first zip line is the bunny slope, and we were now headed for the "Superman" zip line where you go face first and it's a mile long…YIKES! I remember calling my parents as soon as I was done saying, "You'll never believe what I just did!" This was when I realized that being a WRC Rookie means I can do anything, and this year will push me to challenge myself.

Day Three: How is the trip already half over?? This was the first shoot day, and I had no idea what to expect, but I was so excited to learn. I couldn't believe how easy and natural every shoot felt. I am on a team with 32 real life swimsuit models! My favorite thing was that all my teammates came to cheer on one another during the shoots. Never in my life have I met so many caring and supportive women.

Day Four: My shoot day! 3:15 a.m. call time, and I was ready to go! I even got to hair and makeup early…I guess I'm used to adding 15 minutes to everything because of NOVA traffic. With hair and makeup done it was my time to shine. I had my squad to my right and my playlist blasting, so I felt unstoppable! I was on cloud 9 for the rest of the day.

Day Five: It was time to do what we do best: dance! Throughout all the photo shoots, video shoots, and sneaking in pool time, we had also been practicing for our performance for the hotel guests and staff. Our stage was in front of a pool under the stars in Costa Rica, which is something I still can't wrap my head around. The energy was electric during our performance, and you could tell everyone was so excited to show off their talents. When the show ended, the performance was far from over for my fellow rookies and me. After dinner, we were asked to show the hotel guests why the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders are the best, as we performed and sung "Hail to the Redskins." This was the perfect ending to the perfect trip #HTTR.

After returning home from the calendar shoot, I realized how much I had bonded with my WRC sisters over the past couple of days. I missed them immediately, and couldn't wait to get back to practice so we could continue to make new memories. I feel so honored and blessed to have been given this opportunity with them.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Even though we are all part of one team, over the past couple of months I've learned that your class is your rock, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls!

My class has award-winning teachers who teach us a thing or two about dedication and hard work. We have glam queens who help us find the perfect shade of burgundy lipstick (because it is a must!), and we have physical therapists that show us the perfect stretches after a long practice. Last but not least, we have each other. From extra practices, to late night reminder texts on what to bring the next day, my rookie class is there for one another. Even though I have only known these eight ladies for a short period of time, I know that I can count on them to help me with anything.

Although I'm not sure we can prepare for the overwhelming feeling of being on the field at FedExField during game day, we're trying to take every piece of advice from our vets, and push each other to be the best WRC Rookie class that we can be!

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

Anyone that knows me knows my lifelong dream has always been to be a Washington Redskins Cheerleader. But what happens when you achieve your dream? Can it live up to the hype?

April 14, 2016, is a day I will remember forever, because that was the day of my first practice. I went from excited, to nervous and back and forth. I was in disbelief that I was walking into the studio as a WRC Rookie (so obviously I had to snap a picture). My journey to this moment of walking through that door had been such a learning experience: four years, three auditions, one amazing season as a Washington Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador and one number being called during the finals [#43]!

Despite being nervous, I walked in with a smile, and once I got on the other side, I felt a sense of comfort. Seven gorgeous and talented women were there to greet me, my rookie sisters! Together we completed our first practice, and on the drive home, I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness. My dream had definitely been worth the wait, and it was everything I thought it would be and more…and there was still so much more to come.

It's only been three and a half months, but already we've performed as a team, taken countless pictures (and selfies), traveled together, sang karaoke like fools, celebrated one another's accomplishments, and lifted each other up when needed. These past few months have been the best ones of my life, and I can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the season.

CANDESS

1.       Tell us about your practice experience on a professional team:

•         As a rookie pro-cheerleader coming from a dance background, I've found that my practice experience on a professional NFL cheerleading team has been very unique from my prior experiences. Since I was three, I've been trained in a studio setting where I was constantly surrounded by girls my age who were individually training for a competitive dance career like myself. Though I always got along well with the girls that I have danced with in studios, it was not until I joined the WRC squad, where I learned the value of teamwork. I'm blessed to be surrounded by the most intelligent, multifaceted and beautiful women in the nation's capital. We're constantly challenging ourselves physically and mentally by working out before every practice, then going across the floor to improve our dance technique, and lastly running through all of our routines in preparation for our next appearance. What makes practices on our professional team unique is that throughout our practice we have the opportunity to become vulnerable and make mistakes for everyone to see. However, because this team is composed of women who are always looking to not only build each other up, but to also help uphold the prestige of our team, we are always seeking to help each other fix those mistakes in a loving way. Our strong element of teamwork is what makes us present our squad in the best way possible so that we can keep up with cheering on the very best team in the NFL.

2.       What types of things do you do as a team?

•         One of my favorite things about being a WRC is the strong chemistry we all have as cheer sisters. When I started taking prep classes in March prior to tryouts, I immediately felt how close the girls were with each other and the directors. Their warm energy was contagious, which made the whole audition process more approachable for me. This was my first time trying out for a pro-cheer team, so, initially, I was intimidated by the whole process. However, I started to grow close with some of the girls as soon as finals week began! Now that I made the team, we continue to bond outside of practice by going on team bonding activities that allow us to get to know each other outside of our pom poms, burgundy lips and white boots :) We're also allocated a squad buddy, who's basically our own personal confidant for the season. As a rookie, my AMAZING squad buddy, Jen, has been extremely helpful in guiding me through my first year as a cheerleader. She's been so helpful in answering the many questions I've had throughout the season. She's been super supportive of me, literally since the beginning. I'm not even sure if she remembers this, but I remember when she went out of her way during audition week to congratulate me on a job well done for a dance run through at practice. Even before I made the team and before we knew we were going to be squad buddies, she was always authentic and supportive. Genuine moments like that was what made me so passionate about adding to this amazing organization. Not only are we teammates, but we truly are family!

3.       Let us know your experience in your line so far this season, and tell us about your captain:

•        Just recently, we were allocated "lines," which are the groups that we dance on the sidelines with for the rest of the season. Each line is composed of a captain, a co-captain, and a mixture of veterans and rookies. This year, I'm led by my captain, Tedi, and co-captain Jade J. Also on the line are veterans Tonee, Jordyn and Taylor, and my fellow rookies Azusa and Kiki. I may be slightly biased, but I am soooo lucky to be lead by Tedi, who was our WRC Pro Bowl cheerleader last year. This is her first season as captain, but I have no doubt at all that she'll lead us to be the best line that we can be. One thing that makes Tedi's leadership so effective is that she cares about our dance growth as well as our personal growth. She makes an effort to know about our unique strengths and weaknesses, and works with us as individuals to showcase these strengths and enhance our weaknesses. I can't wait to step on the field with my fabulous line this season with our amazing captain leading us!

4.       Give a synopsis of your overall experience as a WRC so far:

•        This season has literally been a dream come true for me. I've been looking up to the women of the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders since I was a young girl, and to finally have the opportunity to wear this Burgundy and Gold uniform is the greatest honor imaginable. It's only been a few months, and I've already been given many opportunities to impact the community. This process is making me grow as a dancer, a teammate and a woman. Many people dream to be in the position that I'm in, so I do not take this great opportunity lightly. Every time I walk into a practice, appearance or game, I'm reminded that I'm entering another day at my dream job, and I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world.

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