BenGals making a name

2-13-03, 12:45 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Since Jim Knippenberg is the Walter Winchell of our time, you know you're big when you're the lead item in "Knip's Eye View," in "The Cincinnati Enquirer."

And, at the moment, nobody is bigger than Charlotte Jacobs and her Cincinnati BenGals even though they're in the middle of the offseason and haven't cheered at a Bengals' game for more than a month.

But assistant side captain and choreographer Seazun Clark returned last week from the Pro Bowl, where her 23 NFL comrades voted her Miss Pro Bowl. Captain and choreographer Angela Miller is a finalist on a future episode of NBC's "Dog Eat Dog." And Jacobs, in her 10th season as the cheerleaders' coordinator, is leading a contingent of a dozen cheerleaders to Bosnia and Kosovo on a two-week USO tour next month.

"And we're trying to work around Coach (Marvin) Lewis' minicamps to get in our tryouts," Jacobs said. "It seems like we haven't stopped since the season ended."

Clark, a Northern Kentucky University student from Lawrenceburg, Ind., spent the week in

Hawaii with the NFL cheerleaders performing at autograph sessions, tailgate parties, an Air Force base, and a children's hospital. They also spent 10 hours one day practicing before the AFC routed the NFC in the Pro Bowl.

"The game was fun because they allowed more fan interaction than during a regular game," said Clark, who has been on the squad for four years. "The best part of the week was getting to know the other girls. They really are incredibly talented."

Jacobs said all indications from Miller are she finished among the top of the 18 NFL cheerleaders who participated in "Dog Eat Dog," after making the final six back in December. Miller can't say how it ended and all Jacobs has been told is the episode is going to run some time between now and the summer.

Jacobs is gearing up for a two-hour show that her team is going to put on at military bases for the USO. The group had plenty of recommendations for the job after they performed in Texas at Fort Hood last year. Plus, one of the BenGals has a brother serving in Kosovo who gave a recommendation.

But after the opening act, you might not recognize them because that's the only time they will be in their game uniforms. Except for a motorcycle number, their dance routines have a military theme.

Some times they will be wearing fatigues, other times they will be in red, white, and blue, or even in a general's outfit.

By the time they return in late March, the 2003 tryouts loom at Paul Brown Stadium. The clinic and workshop is April 5 with the first preliminary set for April 19, the second prelim for May 10, the semifinals May 13, and the finals May 18.

For more information, contact Jacobs at 513-621-3550.

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