I Tried Out To Be A Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleader
Here's What Happened.
We sent an intern and former Blue Valley West High School cheerleader to try out for the
Chiefs Cheerleading squad. What she discovered was that everything is harder when you’re
wearing false eyelashes and that being a Chiefs Cheerleader is serious business.
I was stress sweating for weeks before the tryouts. Once I got my “Rookie Application,” it was time to upgrade to clinical strength deodorant. The application would be used throughout the tryout process by both the judges and the coaches as a reference to who you are and what you’re all about. When I say this application was extensive, I’m not kidding. It made applying to college look like writing a to-do list.
It started with general questions and soon asked me to provide all of my social media handles...um what?! Next, I had to state all the reasons I wanted to be a Chiefs Cheerleader and include all my cheer and dance experience. This followed with having to self-rank myself in the following areas: kicks, turns, leaps, performance/style, public speaking skills, modeling, strength and fitness and, of course, football knowledge. By the time I was finished with the application, I was officially scared out of my mind, and I felt like was totally being judged right away.
I was jittery and freaked out.
A million questions were running through my head.
Next up was a mandatory audition clinic for every candidate trying out. I woke up extra early that morning to make sure my hair and makeup were perfect. As I was driving to the practice facility, I was jittery and freaked out. A million questions were running through my head. Were the women going to be kind? Stuck-up? I really had no idea what was coming.
Lauren Michelson on her way to Chiefs Cheerleader tryouts
Photo provided by Luaren Michelson
As I walked in, I saw jackets labeled “Chiefs Cheerleader,” obviously for veteran cheerleaders trying out for another year, and that alone made me want to run for the exit. Once I got over my nerves and walked in, I was shocked by how many women were there. The first thing I did was get in line to have my headshot taken. That process involved having representatives from Beauty Brands make sure we all had the right “look” of a Chiefs Cheerleader. When it was my turn I had what felt like a quart of lipstick smeared across my lips, and then my hair got what can only be described as “aggressively teased.” Um, ouch. When it was my time for the photo to be taken, I was greeted by a smiling woman and the team photographer. They had me get in position with my hands on my hips and body turned slightly to the side. I felt like a doll.
After being welcomed by Chiefs Cheer Director Stephanie Judah, we began learning the choreography for the audition. The hardest part was the famous kick line. They didn’t give us the luxury of performing this in height order, so I was placed in a group where I was the shortest by a good few inches. Having to kick with such a height difference was hard, and I felt clumsy. It also didn’t help that the temperature in the practice facility felt like I was being cooked alive, so doing a hardcore workout while fully “glammed out” didn’t end well.
By the end of the four hours, I had a run in my
tights, and my fake eyelashes were coming off,
giving me the look of an angry raccoon.
I had sweated so much my make-up had gone rogue. I’m sure I looked like I had plunged my face into melting Dippin’ Dots, and the hairspray I was doused in earlier was now burning my eyes. Yeah, it’s just as awful as it sounds. By the end of the four hours, I had a run in my tights, and my fake eyelashes were coming off, giving me the look of an angry raccoon. I was sore, tired and even more nervous. On the plus side, I was extremely impressed with how much I liked all the women I had met.
One week later, it was audition day. Walking up the huge steps to Arrowhead Stadium, I could have puked. I opened the doors and was greeted by a row of smiling, excited faces. They told me to draw a number at random from a bowl and sign in. I was lucky number 260. Once I dropped off my stuff, I headed for hair and makeup touch-ups.
Lauren Michelson (center) at KC Chiefs Cheerleader tryouts
Photo provided by Lauren Michelson
When the tryout rounds began, we were split into groups. At 18, I was the youngest in my group by six years. The other women ranged in age from 24 to 31. I felt just like the rookie I was! They split us into two groups depending on what position we were trying out for, either sideline candidate or ambassador candidate. Ambassadors need to be able to dance but not as technically precise as the sideline candidates. They are also the ones who do public events and appearances. I was trying out for the role of ambassador because of my strong cheer background, not dance. While waiting to audition, I got to know some of the women better. Most were on their second year of trying out, while a few others were on their fourth and even fifth year.
When it came time for the audition, we tried out in small groups in front of all of our competition. They asked us to stand in numerical order on stage and introduce ourselves with our name, hometown, a fun fact and a color that best describes us and why. When they called my number, I said, “a fun fact about me is that I have a twin brother, and the color that best describes me is red because it is bold!” We concluded with the dance, and the support from all the women while they watched was both comforting and reassuring. It made me feel good at how kind everyone was, and by this time, I was thrilled to be a part of it.
They unveiled a board full of numbers and not to
my surprise 260 wasn’t on it.
Now it was time for the hard part: the waiting. They took each of our numbers so that there were no hard feelings once the finalists were revealed. The alumni cheerleaders entertained us during this long waiting period by dancing and laughing. When it was time to announce who had made it to the final round, Stephanie came back out and thanked each of us for coming. She told everyone to not give up if cut and to please come back and try again. They unveiled a board full of numbers, and, not to my surprise (or probably anyone’s) 260 wasn’t on it. However, I felt sad for some of the women I had come to like when they said they hadn’t made it.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by all that the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders stand for. Director Stephanie Judah is truly incredible. Her passion for Kansas City, her team and being a role model for young girls everywhere is inspiring. From the very beginning she talked about the importance of being a well-rounded young woman — a good person first and a good cheerleader second. Although I tried out just for the fun of it, what this team stands for actually made me enjoy every moment and I have a new appreciation and respect for all the Chiefs Cheerleaders. Trust me when I tell you that it’s not easy.
Lauren Michelson is a freshman at the University of Missouri majoring in Convergence Journalism. She’s planning on going to at least one Chiefs game this season where she says she’ll be watching the cheerleaders just as much, if not more than, the game.