Women’s History Month Interview Series: Q&A with Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader, Gabriella
Gabriella, a New Jersey native, is a member of the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad.
The 2015 version of our Women’s History Month Interview Series continues today as we introduce you to Gabriella, a New Jersey native, and member of the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad.
Gregg Snyder: Using three words of less, what comes to mind when you hear the word cheerleading?
Gabriella: I would say, athletic, competitor, and skilled.
GS: How and when did you become interested in dance and cheerleading?
Gabriella: Believe it or not, I didn’t actually start cheering until my freshman year of high school and that was in the fall for football season, and I only cheered for one year after making the squad for my high school, but dance has always been such a huge part of my life. I took my first dance class at two and began dancing competitive at seven, and here I am today.
GS: And, when did you realize you wanted to cheer for a professional sports team?
Gabriella: Dancing all through my childhood, in high school, and then continuing on to college, it was really important that I keep doing it for as long as I can, because dance has always been so important to me. I danced in college for my school basketball team and then after, I think, my third year on the squad, I decided that I wanted to try out to be a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader, and pretty much once I decided, I was constantly checking the website for more information and details of when tryouts were taking place.
Gabriella: I was definitely a huge fan of football, and the Eagles. I remember growing up and watching some of the greats like Donovan McNabb and Dawkins with my dad, we watched all of the games together. It was fun to watch them go deep into the playoffs every year and even the Super Bowl run in 2004. Back then, I don’t know if you told me I was going to be an Eagles cheerleader, if I would have believed you, but it’s awesome that I am and now seeing first hand on the field what I was watching on TV.
GS: What is your feeling on the role that cheerleaders have in sports, at any level?
Gabriella: I think cheerleaders play a really important role. If there is a big play on the line or if it’s a tight game down the stretch, it’s kind of the job of a cheerleader to get the fans excited and encourage them to stand up and make noise. It can make it tough for the opposing team to communicate or to focus on their defense. I think cheerleaders always want to provide their fans, especially the Eagles cheerleaders, we want to provide our fans with a new and unique experience.
GS: Fitness, being in shape, and body image are a big part of cheerleading. What do you typically do to keep yourself at the necessary fitness level?
Gabriella: During the season, we have practice a few times a week where we practice our routines for game day. But in season, at games or rehearsals, I don’t really think of it as working out, because I love it and it’s so much fun to me. It’s an added bonus that I can stay in shape that way. But, because we do make appearances year-round, staying fit is really important. I usually go to the gym three days a week and focus on both cardio and strength training and I also do hot yoga, which I really love. That is great for flexibility, and strength as well.
GS: What do you think the biggest misconception is about cheerleaders?
Gabriella: I think the biggest misconception is that we are only involved as performers on game days. We are active year-round as brand ambassadors. Collectively as a squad, we participate in over 350 community events each year, so it’s definitely a commitment and most of us have full-time jobs but we still have practice during the week and we arrive four hours before games to get ready, and we’re also active in the community and we support our military through a variety of appearances. So, we are all really busy but we are all so proud to be a part of such an elite squad that we want to spend a lot of time together and doing things in our community.
GS: What’s the most rewarding part of being a cheerleader for a professional sports team?
Gabriella: I love knowing I have an impact on our fans and their experience at Lincoln Financial Field. That impact goes both ways though, meeting fans and hearing their stories in unbelievable. Everybody says we have the best fans, and we really do, they are amazing and we get to see that in reality, every day, through our appearances and it’s incredible.
GS: Yes, Philadelphia fans tend to be some of the most passionate and better fan bases, but I’m sure you’ve heard their reputation of being harsh. Have you had any experience with Philadelphia fans that went either exceptionally well or a bad experience?
Gabriella: I never had a bad experience personally, everyone is just always so excited to see us and to be there at the game. For me, it’s just kind of adding to the excitement of the game and hearing them, the roar of the crowd, it’s just awesome. It’s never been negative for me, they can cheer as loud as they want in my opinion, it’s better for the team that way.
GS: What is the toughest part of the job of a professional cheerleader?
Gabriella: Honestly, being an Eagles cheerleader has always been a dream of mine and I appreciate every day that i have as a member of the squad. As I mentioned earlier, it’s definitely a commitment, but I take pride in representing the Eagles both on and off the field during those appearances and charity events that I mentioned before.
GS: Can you take us through your typical routine on game day?
Gabriella: Sure! We typically arrive four hours before kickoff to rehearse our dance routines for the game. After rehearsal, we head back to the locker room where our extremely talented hair and makeup artists help us and make sure we are getting ready. We have pre-game appearances where we have the opportunity to engage with fans around the stadium, that’s really great. After that, we only have a short time before the game starts, so we stretch as a squad and make sure we are all warmed up and ready, and before you know it, we are walking out to the field for the start of the game.
GS: Your twin sister, Sage, is also an Eagles cheerleader. How much more exciting is it for you to be part of the team with her and experience your dream of always being an Eagles cheerleader with your sister by your side?
Gabriella: Being a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader is such an amazing opportunity in itself, and being able to share that with my sister is what makes the experience even better for me. We are sharing in the same experiences every day and it’s really awesome that we have the memories together.
GS: A lot of young girls probably look up to you being an Eagles cheerleader. Is there any kind of advice you can give to those that might be interested in cheerleading or dance as a career?
Gabriella: Definitely. First of all, it’s very humbling to be in a position that someone would look up to you as a role model, so that’s really great to hear. But if someone wants to continue on a path that leads to dancing or cheerleading as a career, it’s really important to hone in on your craft at an early age, and get involved. That could mean either at school or with a dance company, just get involved and try to focus in on where you want your path to lead.
Initially I didn’t make the squad the first year I tried out, and that definitely took a huge tool on me, but I knew I had that goal in mind and I couldn’t give up. Once I found out the following year I made the squad and accomplished something I really put my mind to and prepared for, it was great. Now, I’m thrilled to be part of the Eagles organization and proud of myself for overcoming a minor setback in my life. So, I guess that story kind of just says, if you have a dream go after it, don’t let anyone or anything hold you back or tell you otherwise because everyone should chase their dreams.
GS: Favorite Sports Movie?
Gabriella: Definitely, Remember the Titans
GS: If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Gabriella: This isn’t in any order, but I would say Steve Jobs, I think he really made a change when technology became so big and I would like to hear his vision and reason why he went after that center of the market. Growing a company from the ground up, it would be awesome hearing stories from him.
Karl Lagerfeld. I majored in fashion merchandising in college so fashion has been a big part of my life. Karl Lagerfeld really transformed the fashion industry and made it something amazing. His life, he had many struggles but some how he overcame them and kind of achieved greatness and received so many awards for it and I would love to hear his input on that.
And, the last one would probably be Mark Cuban. I love watching him on some of the shows he’s on and I think in the business world, he’s such a great role model to base yourself off of and he takes part in so many business ventures, and not just one type, so hearing about his overall success would be great to hear about.
GS: Since March is Women’s History Month, what type of legacy do you hope to leave, not only through your career but as a woman?
Gabriella: Successfully illustrating that it is possible to have a successful career and raise a family. I think that helps to show aspiring young women that they have the ability to achieve anything and everything, even though they are a woman. I don’t think it sets us apart from anyone else.
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