Why did you decide to audition for the Ben-Gals?
I came to the Ben-Gals in 2014 looking for a "pick-me-up." I had a rough start to that year and thought about what had made me happy in the past and cheerleading and dance was it! I wanted to see if I could get back into it and tried out for the Ben-Gals. Luckily, I MADE IT! I still use cheerleading as my outlet today. I love going to practice because it's my safe place. The reason why I continue to audition is to inspire other women to follow their passions and be the best they can be.
What is your favorite memory from being a part of the Ben-Gals? What was the coolest thing you've been able to do with the team?
I do not think that I have specific favorite memory because there really are a lot to choose from, but I do have a favorite shining moment. That moment was being chosen to represent our team at the 2017 Pro Bowl. Towards the end of the season, the cheerleaders vote on who they would like to send. During our December 4th game, between the 1st and 2nd quarter, the cheerleaders all lined up in the south end zone to dance. Right as the music was coming on to start our performance, my director put flowers in my hand, cameras were in my face and the announcement was made that I was chosen to represent my teammates and the Bengals organization at the Pro Bowl! I have to admit that I ugly cried on the field out of pure joy. My close friend and teammate, Alyson, gave me the biggest hug and cried too. I had a lot of love and support from my teammates in many ways going into this amazing experience. Several of them let me borrow attire to wear while I was at the Pro Bowl and they also sent me goodies and wrote me letters while I was there. Their letters really opened my eyes to the fact that they didn't just choose me just because of my dance ability, fitness level or glamour. Those are definitely major criteria a Pro Bowl Cheerleader needs, but they also chose me because of the person I am and how I have treated them. In their letters, they talked about meeting me at audition prep classes and how I pulled them aside to help them with their dances; they talked about how I never treated them as "rookies" but as a person and friend; they talked about how I helped guide them to be better dancers; and they talked about my positivity. Which meant so much to me because I realized how much they truly cared. The reason why this matters so much to me is because at this point in my professional cheerleading career, I am here to inspire other women and help them become the best they can be. They confirmed that I am doing just that. So going back to the question at hand, there isn't one particular favorite memory I have had because it took 3 seasons of great memories to get to this shining moment. However, this one definitely stands out. To my teammates - I love you! Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and I can't wait to make many more memories with you!
At what point did you have your "I'm actually an NFL Cheerleader" moment and what was it like?
Oh goodness, that's a tough one. I don't know that I even believe it now after 3 seasons with the squad. I really have to take a step back and remind myself that this is the NFL and I'm cheering for it. I don't think I can choose one specific moment. It hits me here and there that I am an NFL cheerleader; like when I went to the Pro Bowl, or whenever we walk out of the tunnel onto the field. Every time I have that ah-ha moment, I have the same reaction of overwhelming excitement.
Is there anything else you think people should know about the Ben-Gals?
NFL cheerleaders are often stereotyped as just a pretty dancer, but I want people to know that the women on our team and in the NFL are much more. On our team alone we have nurses, teachers, a social worker, a law student, sales women, a financial advisor, mothers, wives, you name it! We wear a lot of hats and juggle a lot on our plates at once. We are also athletes and train regularly to be able to perform to our best ability on the field. It takes a lifestyle to be an NFL cheerleader and when the judges are choosing a new squad, they are looking for individuals who are well rounded in all aspects of their lives.
What advice can you give to others who are looking to try out? What did you do to prepare for auditions?
Practice living the lifestyle of an NFL cheerleader and work on your weaknesses. During tryouts the judges will be looking for dance ability and technique, fitness level and glamour. So for example, if you're struggling with technique, set aside time every day to work on your leaps and turns and find someone who is an expert in technique to help you. The reason I chose technique as an example is because it wasn't something that I was very good at. I come from a competitive cheerleading background and only danced for a few years in high school. I was pretty rusty on technique when I came to the Ben-Gals but I practiced my turns and leaps every day. I would even go over to one of my friend's apartments and practice in front of her so I would get used to having an audience.
Would YOU like to join the Ben-Gals this season? Auditions start April 24th! You can register for prep classes and view other important dateshere.
Cincinnati Bengals honors Pro Bowl Cheerleader Sarah.