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Finding The Newest Cheer Squad

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 Director of cheerleading Heather Karberg leads auditions Saturday.

The Cardinals made a Super Bowl, so it?s not a surprise they have garnered more attention from many places.

And that includes those who want to be part of the cheerleading squad, tryouts for which began Saturday at the team?s Tempe facility. Normally about 200 women attend the pre-clinics before auditions. This year, that number pushed 300, with more than 200 women trying out.

?We are seeing more faces,? said Heather Karberg, the Cardinals? director of cheerleading.

The tryout process runs five days, with the final team announced on azcardinals.com on Wednesday. Normally the squad numbers between 30 and 40 women, but Karberg said the number can vary because ?it?s a matter of who is ready for the team.?

?The rookie and second-year vets are my favorite group to work with because of their energy,? Karberg said. ?Having so many people wanting to be a part of the program is fun.?

The women were first taught a routine Friday night, to give them some time to digest the dance and, in Karberg?s eyes, separate those who are ready to be cheerleaders against those who may still be a year or two away. Judging, done by Karberg, team sponsors and organizational employees, began Saturday.

Sunday brings a separate set of judges, a business-style interview and another routine. Eliminations are made at every point. Those left after Sunday will practice Monday and Tuesday, with the final squad sculpted from that roster.

?Having to try out every year you still are nervous and you still have anxiety,? said Marcie, a returning cheerleader. ?But the adrenaline rush is so much fun to perform with and it gives you an extra boost of confidence to hit the routine.

?I?m really impressed with all of the girls that are here. There is a real confidence about them that we haven?t necessarily had in the past and there is a real energy between everyone.?

Karberg will run a squad ?minicamp? May 15-17, with the team indoctrinated with everything they need to know about being a cheerleader. That not only includes what happens at games but what is expected at practices and when women take part in community events.

?This is a job,? Karberg said.

Practice starts soon after.

?I always wanted to dance professionally -- It?s been a dream of mine,? said Ashley, a rookie. ?I?ve been cheerleading and dancing since I was 7 years old and I just moved to Arizona. I thought it would be a great opportunity.?


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 4/4/09.

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