Amanda Duffy is a Baltimore Ravens Cheerleader. She is also a USTA Certified Coach and a past world class competitor.
I thought it would be interesting to hear how Amanda’s experiences as a Ravens Cheerleader have helped her as a coach and also how her past experiences as an Elite Athlete helped her in her auditions for the Ravens Cheerleader tryouts. Enjoy this interview with Amanda. It reminded me of how much we, as coaches, train our kids the life skills needed to be successful. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to share this with our professionals.
How did your competitive twirling experiences help you in the auditions?
Competitive twirling helped me through the audition process with Ravens by making sure I was always professional and prepared. When going to the auditions, I would make sure my make up and hair was done before walking into the building. While there I made sure not to focus on anyone but myself which I have always done while competing. During the audition, you are judged on an 8-8 count dance, technical skill, and toe touch. The dance is taught pretty quickly so you are responsible for knowing the routine as soon as you get in front of the judges. When I first auditioned I went to the 2 prep classes that Ravens offered. They taught 4-8 counts there, another 2-8 counts on the first day of auditions and the last 2-8 counts on the second day. We had about an hour and half, depending on your tryout number, to warm up and practice before showing the judges. For the technique skill, I did three fouette turns into an illusion then switch leap. I made sure to do this a couple times while the judges were still out on the court so they knew I was someone to watch for during tryouts. I also practiced a lot when the other girls were sitting down to try to get into their heads… just slightly.
Do you get paid to be a Ravens cheerleader? What are the benefits?
We get paid for game days and certain appearances. It is 100 per game and typically 90/hour for appearances. Being part of the Ravens we also got a free gym membership (heavenly) and a free tanning membership. These benefits were great and so nice to have but there were also a lot of expenses that came with it as well. You are responsible for making sure your hair is always done, you have the make up required for game day and appearance, and any other little expenses that come along the way.
How do you project to an NFL crowd differently than you would to a baton audience?
Projecting to an NFL crowd isn’t too different than performing for a baton audience; you still have to project upwards where the fans are sitting, make sure your movements are big and you have great facials. The only thing that might be different is the fact that we don’t know what song will play next, sometimes it will be really fast and other times really slow. No matter what tempo, you still have to punch out every move and give the audience the best performance every time.
Is dance and gymnastics important in order to be selected as a Ravens Cheerleader?
It is important to have dance/gymnastic experience. Throughout my past 3 years it has gotten more technical. Ravens Cheerleading has a different outlook on cheerleading than other NFL teams. They look for girls that not only have pretty faces but are athletic, talented, and well rounded. There are some girls that have little or no dance experience but those individuals bring something else to the organization and work really hard outside of practices to make sure they look good while doing the dances.
How do you respond to people saying that NFL Cheerleaders have to be sexy?
I think when people say NFL Cheerleaders have to be sexy (physically) it is just a stereotype that all NFL cheerleaders have experienced. I don’t think sexy necessary has to do with looks either, it can be considered sexy how you carry yourself and your attitude in a difficult situation. All NFL cheerleaders have to be sexy in this respect since we deal with all types of people and situations. We also get that we are dumb and ditsy which isn’t true at all. We have a great range of intelligent girls on the team from engineers, doctors, and scientists. All the girls have to have great time management skills to be able to do their normal full time job and also cheer, which is a part time job with full time responsibility.
Do you have any input in the routines that you do?
We do have input on routines. This year we had 18 fillers (short routines that are performed on the sideline) — these were choreographed by older vets on the team. Also, after your rookie year you have the opportunity to choreograph one end zone routine dance (usually 1:30min long), for the past two years I have choreographed a routine with another girl on the team. We decide the music, costume, and skills put into the routine.
How does this experience help you as a coach?
This experience helped me as a coach in working with different individuals with different backgrounds and being more patient with people. Choreographing dances that highlight all individuals can be difficult sometimes but making sure you know people’s strengths and weaknesses is a great start to building a masterpiece. Since I was one of the best technically trained dancers it really made me dissect every action in a movement to better help a teammate that might not have as much dance experience.