FFFC: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
AT: Hi! My name is Ali, I am 25 years old and I am a first grade teacher in the Baltimore County Public School system. I grew up in a small town in PA but currently live in downtown Baltimore. I love taking pictures, making crafts, dancing, and playing with my Pitbull named Crash. I teach dance at Karen Sach’s Academy of Dance and just finished my rookie year as a Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader.
FFFC: How long have you been a Ravens Cheerleader?
AT: I just finished my first year as a cheerleader. I tried out three times before I finally made the team in April of 2014. Tryouts are coming up in March and I hope to make the team again as a second year veteran!
FFFC: Why did you want to be a part of the team?
AT: I began dancing when I was about 5 and can’t remember life without it. I danced for Towson University’s Dance team in college, but life after college doesn’t hold too many opportunities to dance. After college, I began my teaching career and the weight of missing dance became heavy. I started teaching dance to 8 year olds at Karen Sach’s Academy of Dance in 2011, which was great, but it still wasn’t allowing me to dance like I wanted. I missed having a team and being part of an organization. It was 2012 when I decided that the Ravens was where I wanted to set my goals.
FFFC: How many other ladies were you competing against and how did you prepare for your audition?
AT: Every year I auditioned there were different amounts of girls but the numbers were always somewhere between 150-300 girls. Every year I auditioned there were only about 3 spots available, so the competition was tough! I did a lot of research before auditioning. I befriended many veteran cheerleaders on social media, I always attended prep clinics which were offered by the cheerleading program, and I made sure to prepare in all the recommended ways. Photographers, clothing lines, shoe brands, and specific lipstick colors were all recommended…so you can bet I took every recommendation I was handed. I was thankful for everyone who took the time to share experiences of the team with me, and I was open-minded to change and feedback that I received from veterans and coaches of the team.
FFFC: What does it take to be a cheerleader?
AT: Time, dedication, hard work, and love for your sport. Being a Ravens Cheerleader is almost a full-time job on top of my full-time job. Although it’s tough work going to a three-hour practice after an 8 hour day with first graders, all the hard work is paid off. The team is more than just a team – it’s a family. The opportunities and experiences that I have from the last year are worth a lifetime. I have met some of my best friends, spent time with some amazing people and fans, and got to cheer for the best team in the NFL.
FFFC: What typical meals do you eat throughout the day (i.e. breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, etc.)?
AT: Depends on the day. My diet revolves around the type of work out I have planned for the day and the schedule I have at work. It’s always different!
FFFC: What is the typical training plan you follow with the Ravens cheerleaders?
AT: Lots of running and cardio on top of our dancing. We are required to run an 8 minute mile and stay physically active, which isn’t hard to do during the season when we are constantly training for game day. I love taking classes at my gym and working out with our trainer during practices twice a week. My favorite workout from the past year was when we got to work out on the beach in Ocean City. We were there for training came last spring and had a 2 hour workout right on the shore line! We ran sprints and even had some friendly competition when we were grouped rookies vs. veterans in relay competitions. Unfortunately, the veterans beat my rookie team.
FFFC: What do you say to anyone who thinks cheerleaders are not athletes?
AT: I would ask them if they could lift full size women above their head, if they could hold their foot into the air and bend into pretzel shapes while still smiling. I would also ask them if they ever completed a 3 and a half hour cardio workout since that’s how long game days are. Cheerleaders and dancers may not have a ball to throw back and forth, we may not need shin guards or goggles, but we are powerful humans who have a drive to succeed. We practice, workout, stay healthy, and work together as a team who have a common goal. If that’s not an athlete, then I don’t know what is.
FFFC: What advice do you have for anyone interested in trying out for the squad?
AT: Come to our prep clinics! Check out http://www.baltimoreravens.com/ravenstown/cheerleaders/ for more information. Tryouts for the 2015 Ravens Cheerleading Squad will be held the weekend of March 7th at the Downtown Athletic Club. There is so much information online! The tryout process is an incredible experience—don’t put it off, go for it!
FFFC: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date as a Ravens cheerleader?
AT: I was just named Rookie of the Year by our coaching staff. I was awarded this honor at our end of the year banquet just a few weeks ago. It is an incredible honor and a dream come true. I am thankful that the coaching staff recognized me and I am humbled by the award. I always tried to imagine what it would be like to be Ravens Cheerleader, but this year has proven that it was everything I dreamed of and more. I hope to return as a veteran cheerleader next year and welcome new rookies the same way my veterans and captains welcomed me.
FFFC: How can readers learn more about the Ravens Cheerleaders?
AT: Check out our website! http://www.baltimoreravens.com/ravenstown/cheerleaders/