Over 200 rookie candidates arrived at Arrowhead Stadium Saturday morning to audition for the chance to become a 2013 Chiefs Cheerleader.
The morning started with the preliminary round. Rookie candidates participated in public speaking and performed a routine for the judges with a twist of their own style. 200 plus candidates were trimmed down to 90, those candidates moved onto semi-finals with the returning veterans.
"After preliminaries the veterans arrived and that's when the rookies and the vets began semi-finals," Director of Chiefs Cheerleaders Stephanie Judah explained. "The ambassador candidates went through a football test. We want to measure their knowledge of Chiefs history, the game of football and of the NFL. The field cheerleaders were divided into three groups and worked with different choreographers to learn a production routine."
Each group focused on a different style from musical theater to Latin jazz to hip-hop.
While the field cheerleaders were learning the routines and the ambassadors were being tested on football, girls were selected throughout the day to go through an interview process.
"They went through interviews with myself and our Vice President of Human Resources and it was really about understanding them as people," Judah commented. "We wanted to know what makes them who they are, what their goals and ambitions are to try to understand the true character of each girl."
The candidate's on-camera presence was also tested. They were interviewed on-camera by former Chiefs Cheerleader Shanna Hilt to see how well they would handle themselves, answer questions on-camera and to test their composure.
After the interviews, testing and practicing the candidates were ready for evening auditions, which were open to the public at Arrowhead Stadium.
"On Saturday evening, it's the only part of the entire audition process that we open to the public," Judah said. "The three different production numbers performed. We want to see their different personalities and how they perform in front of a crowd. The field cheerleaders also performed a one minute solo and the ambassadors were interviewed on stage in front of the public."
To end the evening every girl walked the runway. It was a chance for them to show off their personality, glamour, confidence, and poise.
After the crowd had dissipated and the doors were closed decisions were made on the 65 girls that would make it to Sunday, the finals.
Sunday morning the candidates were put through five different stations: public speaking, football knowledge, photo shoots, fitness evaluation, and dance skill evaluation.
"We put the girls through so many tests to see if they can endure everything that we throw at them," Hilt explained. "We want to see that these girls are well rounded and can they handle being in front of a fan base of 80,000 people. This is a pretty rigorous weekend and you need a lot of endurance to make it through."
Hilt was one of twelve judges over the weekend, joined by Chiefs employees, local television and radio hosts, a former NBA cheerleader, Red Coaters and former Chiefs players. The judging process can be difficult because there are many things to consider when choosing which girls will represent the 2013 squad.
"We're looking for the complete package," Hilt noted. "We want the best of the best, the girls who are fit, have tact, can dance, do well in public speaking, the girls who are able to energize a crowd and above anything else, the girls who are classy and mature. We're looking for girls who encompass all of those qualities because they will not only be representing the Chiefs Cheerleaders but also the Chiefs Kingdom."
The judges faced a challenging process, choosing 26 field candidates and seven ambassadors to represent the Chiefs organization, with only two days to decide.
"It's a tough decision because there is a lot of pressure to pick the embodiment of what a Chiefs Cheerleader is," Senior Vice President of Business Operations and 2013 auditions judge Bill Chapin commented. "It's not just beauty, esthetics, poise, confidence but also, how will they be in the community, how are they going to relate to the fans. It's really a wide range of abilities and skill sets that we're looking for."
The Chiefs look for women who possess many valuable qualities. The tests try to challenge the candidates and reveal the women's ability to handle situations, their character and their attitude.
"What the Chiefs organization looks for is not what the typical NFL team looks for," Lisa Alberino, former NBA cheerleader noted. "The Chiefs want the whole package, so they expect these women to not only be glamorous and poised but to be able to communicate effectively, to know football, the Chiefs history and be able to dance."
During the finals on Sunday afternoon, the field and ambassador cheerleaders kicked the day off by performing a routine, which represented what is typically performed on the sidelines. The ambassador candidates then went through one more interview on stage where any question was fair game from football to personal.
The final event of the day was the field candidates performing the second routine, the main dance, which represents what is typically performed between quarters.
The candidates laid it all on the line on Sunday and now it's in the judges hands.
"All of the candidates have learned so much going through this process and all 200 plus that tried out worked incredibly hard through this process," Judah commented. "So many girls don't have the courage to even step through those doors but these girls did and that's a huge accomplishment to just have the guts to go and try."
Judah is still determining who will make up the 2013 Chiefs Cheerleader squad and will have results by the end of the day.
"My team is a big puzzle of 33 pieces, not one piece is the same. They are completely unique and they come together to build the perfect picture. I have to figure out who those 33 are for this year. We will be posting the announcement of the 2013 squad Tuesday after 5:00p.m. so stayed tuned on kcchiefs.com."