Going Pro: The World of Professional Cheerleading and Dance Teams
by Ashley White
Former Bobcat dance team member Kelly Metzger is now a dancer for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When you think about someone in sports turning pro, you usually think about an athlete making an NFL, NBA or professional baseball roster. But what about the women on the sidelines? Believe it or not, four former Ohio University cheerleaders and dance team members have entered the world of professional cheering or dance teams.
Trying out for a team takes “discipline and diligence,” said Amy Gabler of Naperville, Ill. Gabler, a former Bobcat dance team member and 2003 graduate with a degree in organizational communication, is a member of the Luvabulls, the Chicago Bulls’ dance squad.
Noelle Wilson, a 2003 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a resident of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., made it to the final round of tryouts for the Los Angeles Clippers’ dance squad. About 500 women start out the tryout, where they “learn a series of choreography,” according to Wilson. “Each routine gets harder than the last.”
The tryout process varies on a team-by-team basis. Some teams have a series of auditions while others start with testing major skills like turns, splits, leaps and kicks. “They were evaluating us the entire time,” said Gabler.
Following the physical tryout, about 30 women who make the cut continue on to an interview session. From these interviews, 15 to 20 women make the team and begin practice for the following season.
Kelly Metzger, a 2003 education graduate from Ottawa, Ohio, and current member of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ dance team, said she has put in more than 100 practice hours since August.
In addition to practice hours, professional cheerleaders and dance team members have to be available for public relations opportunities. They perform at preseason games, sign autographs, pose for photographs for programs and calendars and participate in charity events like the NBA’s Read to Achieve program.
Ann (Reynolds) Dreisbach, a former Bobcat cheerleader and 1996 broadcast journalism graduate, and other members of the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders participated in a European USO tour where they danced and acted out skits and rode in Blackhawk helicopters and tanks.
Cheering and dancing, however, are only secondary jobs. Dreisbach, who works for the National Cheerleading Association, and Metzger are both teachers. Wilson works in marketing while Gabler is the assistant vice president of marketing and public relations for a company called Healthcare Industry.
Professional cheering is “definitely very difficult, very competitive,” Dreisbach said. But, as Metzger added, “being at the games on the floor is the best seat of the house.”