To continue with the theme of the past week, Chiefs Cheerleading, I spoke with the director of the program to find out more about the squad, the responsibilities of the team and the role Chiefs Cheerleaders (CC) play on game day and in the community.
"It takes a lot to be a Chiefs Cheerleader," Stephanie Judah, Director of Chiefs Cheerleading explained. "We look for well-rounded women who have both high talent and character. These women work so very hard throughout the year, but always find that it is worth it to have an opportunity to stand on that field at Arrowhead Stadium and represent the best organization in the National Football League."
Judah just completed her fifth year as the director and was also a part of the squad for seven years from 1993-2000.
"I was so fortunate to have cheered for seven years for this amazing organization, it truly changed my life" Judah said. "To the countless appearances at schools or charity events, to working with our youth, this organization has given me so much. Getting the opportunity to travel to Japan twice for two pre-season games, once to Mexico for a pre-season game and was selected to represent the Chiefs at the Pro Bowl in 1998, is was all an experience of a lifetime. Now, it's my turn to help train and teach these ladies and it means so much to me to now be mentoring and guiding these beautiful women."
The 33 CCs represent the Chiefs on the field on game day and in the community. They make weekly visits to schools, hospitals, or military bases to visit with the members of the community throughout the year, as well as, cheer on the sidelines at Arrowhead Stadium on Sundays.
"The role of a Chiefs Cheerleader is to be a role model for youth, give back to this city and to proudly represent the Chiefs Organization, the NFL and our hometown of Kansas City," Jillian, Ambassador CC and captain, noted. "On game day, we have Cheerleaders on the field during the games leading cheers, as well as, Cheerleaders visiting fans throughout the stadium on the concourse and in suites during the game. It is our goal to ensure our fans have the ultimate game experience every time they come to Arrowhead."
On game day, the women arrive about four hours before kickoff for a team meeting and rehearsals on the field.
"When the girls arrive, we have a team meeting to review logistics of the game and then head out to the field for our field rehearsal," Judah said. "This is the only time we get to run our routines on the actual stadium field. We typically practice at the practice facility which is artificial turf but the stadium is natural grass, so it feels very different when you are dancing in 3" heel boots."
Following rehearsals, the girls have a quick lunch, one more meeting, tailgate appearances and prepare for kickoff.
"We line up in the tunnel about 30 minutes prior to kickoff," Judah noted. "The cheerleaders do a pre-game performance, this is when the excitement kicks in. I cue the pyro, Warpaint and then the cheerleaders. It is an adrenaline rush to say the least. Once the game is in play, I'm cuing our Alumni staff who cue the cheerleaders on the next routines and when to rotate."
There are two roles within the Chiefs Cheerleader team: Field Cheerleaders & Ambassador Cheerleaders. The Field Cheerleaders are on the sidelines during the game, rallying the crowd and performing routines. The Ambassador Cheerleaders visit Chiefs fans during the game, sign autographs and take photos.
"The role of a Field Cheerleader requires attending two practices a week and cheering on the field during game days," Hayley, Field CC and captain explained. "We perform three routines every game, along with an intro routine, and roughly seven sidelines, 25 stingers and 15 first downs. We are all considered one team, we just have two different roles within our squad."
Recently, after a long and intense weekend, the 2014 Chiefs Cheerleading squad was introduced. Typically, there is a photo gallery of the final squad posted on kcchiefs.com following the audition weekend. This year, they took a new approach and released the final 33 through the Chiefs Twitter account, three girls every 10 minutes.
"This was my fifth audition process and I have to say I was really challenged by the judges raising the bar and throwing some curveballs throughout interviews this year," Jillian said. "It was a weekend full of hard work, passion and entertainment. However, when the announcement was made, I thought we were all going to destroy Twitter as we were watching all of the pictures being posted. Each of us kept refreshing the Twitter feed frantically hoping to see ourselves. Once everyone was announced it was very exciting because we have a solid core of returning Veterans and with our new talent this team truly has the has potential to be the strongest squad our Chiefs fans have ever seen."
Judah completely agrees and says this squad may be the best one yet.
"I'm so excited about this year and I think this may be one of the greatest teams so far," Judah commented. "We had so many talented girls tryout this year and it was such a difficult process because of all the amazing and beautiful ladies. The 2014 squad is not only talented, but these women have amazing character and are beautiful on the inside and out. It's going to be an amazing team and I can't wait to get started."