01 of 07
A Chance for Girls to Take the Field at a New England Patriots Game
It all began when I took my daughter to Patriots Training Camp in August of 2011. In addition to watching Tom Brady and company begin preparations for a season that led to a Super Bowl appearance, we had the chance to meet two New England Patriots Cheerleaders, who were signing autographs for fans. They asked L.L. if she danced, and when she enthusiastically responded, "Yes!" they encouraged her to attend the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders camp the squad and their coach host each year.
Well, we're huge Patriots fans, but... Foxboro, Massachusetts, where the team plays and the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program is held, is a two-hour drive from our home in Connecticut. The program requires girls ages 7 to 17 to commit to four-hour clinics on two May weekend dates, a two-hour final rehearsal in August and a game day rehearsal and performance at an NFL preseason game.
My nine-year-old daughter lobbied hard, though, through the fall and winter: She was captivated by the idea of... cheering for her favorite team. Her enthusiasm wavered only once: She was a bit miffed when I explained that Brady would likely be in the locker room and not on the sidelines watching her cheer!
Once I discovered that the cost of participation optionally includes two tickets to the game--and the option to purchase additional seats--I was sold. Patriots tickets aren't easy to come by, and I'd never been to a game at Gillette Stadium. From registration at the first clinic through reuniting with her after her big moment on the field, the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program was the best-run children's activity I've ever witnessed and a one-of-a-kind opportunity she'll always cherish.
In this photo album, L.L. and I will tell you a bit more about what made the program such a worthwhile investment. For 2016, the registration deadline for the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders Program is April 1.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
They Thought of Everything
L.L.: When we got there on the first day, I was so excited. I tried on the costume and went on the Gillette Stadium field to dance and stretch.
Kim: I was impressed even before we arrived at Gillette Stadium for the first clinic in May. Patriots Cheerleader Director Tracy Sormanti communicated with parents via detailed emails at every stage. Registration began an hour before the 10 a.m. start time, and it ran like a well-oiled machine. I figured we'd have an hour to stand around, but no! The Patriots Cheerleaders immediately escorted their young counterparts onto the field to get acquainted and warm up.
Two things completely blew me away:
Continue to 3 of 7 below.
- I had to submit sizes during the registration process for the official Junior Cheerleader skort and shirt (a tricky proposition with a growing kid!). Of course, when L.L. tried on her outfit, the skort was too big and the shirt was too small. We were immediately able to trade for alternate sizes at a costume table at registration. It truly was if... they'd thought of everything.
- Care was taken to ensure the girls' security: We had to show ID and sign our daughter in and out at every rehearsal and on game day.
03 of 07
An Inspiring Program for Aspiring Cheerleaders and Dancers
L.L.: I liked it when we went around to all of the cheerleaders in groups and did different activities. One was pyramids, and another was tumbling. It was so much fun!
Kim: With just three sessions to prepare to perform at an NFL game, I expected intense focus on the routine. The Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program included skills-building stations and other fun activities, though, to give the girls confidence and keep them engaged.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
L.L.: The real cheerleaders were so nice! If we were confused, they helped us. They really inspired me because they were great cheerleaders and were so friendly. When I lost the back of my earring right before the game, one of the cheerleaders gave me one of hers.
Kim: The New England Patriots Cheerleaders are stunning, athletic women who are true ambassadors for the team. Throughout the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program, they dressed conservatively, offered praise profusely and smiled incessantly... even when they had to hike up the stands to the concession level every time a girl in their group needed to use the restroom. When my daughter asked her group leader, "How old do you have to be to audition to be a Patriots Cheerleader?" I knew her experience was having a positive and lasting impact on her. This answer is: 18.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
A Chance to Learn from a Pro
L.L.: The Junior Patriots Cheerleading camp is great for girls who love to dance and shout and who love the Patriots. You will learn great moves, and you will feel good about yourself.
Kim: I can't say enough good things about Tracy Sormanti, who coaches the Patriots Cheerleaders and runs the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program with the same precision and flawlessness. She anticipated every question, choreographed and taught a complex routine and made each girl feel like an integral part of the performance. At one point, she turned to the parents in the stands from her perch above the field to explain that she'd designed the routine so that each girl would be positioned in front at some time during the performance. I was struck by how remarkably thoughtful and professional she was.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
L.L.: It was amazing being out on the field before the game. All the people were smiling and clapping. There were so many people watching, and it all went by so fast! Before I knew it, we were done!
Kim: The seats included with the Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program were high up in the third level at Gillette Stadium. That gave me the perfect vantage point for this aerial shot. I was so proud of my daughter, who had to muscle through incredibly hot weather during game day run-throughs. Cheering at an NFL game is an experience she will never forget. Participation in the program would make a wonderful gift for a young Patriots fan.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Co-Appearance Opportunities with the New England Patriots Cheerleaders
L.L.: Because I was a Junior Cheerleader, I got to go up to Foxboro at Christmas time and sing carols with the Patriots Cheerleaders. We also got to watch the tree lighting at the stadium. It was an amazing experience.
Kim: My daughter was offered several co-appearance opportunities thanks to her involvement as a Junior Patriots Cheerleader. These charitable events are a wonderful way for the younger girls to learn the value of community service. Because most of the appearances with the Patriots Cheerleaders were in the Greater Boston area, we were only able to attend one, but it was wicked fun! And... I wound up with the perfect Christmas card photo.