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Routines are perfected through hard work and practice, practice, practice. - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
Routines are perfected through hard work and practice, practice, practice.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

Normally, football halftime shows provide the perfect excuse to get up, have a snack, balance the checkbook, walk the dog.

But several Bainbridge families are likely to be glued to their televisions during today’s Pro Bowl halftime show in Honolulu, hoping for a glimpse of their daughters.

Four members of the BHS winter cheerleading team – Christina Danaee, Lizzie Greene, team captain Alison Orrey and Amy Strand – will join an estimated 1,000 other cheerleaders from around the country in the performance.

The team’s other four members – Lily Brewis-Condon, co-captain Ashley Callahan, Mallory Mihara and Kristina Purdom – had originally planned on going as well, but the events of September 11 and subsequent commitments kept them here.

For Callahan, the decision was easier because she’d already made the trip two years ago when she was a football cheerleader.

“There are girls from all over the country and we coat the field,” she said. “We have two five-hour rehearsals after we get there for our five minutes of fame.

“I had a really fun time when I was there. You don’t feel like you’re on TV at all.”

As far as she and the others are concerned, there’s no fall-off in athletic ability when the football players head for the locker room and the cheerleaders take the field.

For one thing, all have athletic backgrounds of their own. Callahan has been a gymnast. Greene plays softball. So does Orrey, who also is a horseback rider. Mihara is on the lacrosse team. Brewis-Condon lists basketball, swimming, volleyball and track. Strand was a gymnast when she was little and has played soccer since she was seven, Select since she was 12. Danaee is partial to softball and soccer.

Purdom, perhaps the highest-profile athlete of the group, is a club and varsity volleyball player, has played Select soccer and softball and includes basketball, swimming and gymnastics in her athletic resume.

Many also have extensive dance backgrounds, and all but one are also members of the Bainbridge Dance Team that performs at halftime of home games. Orrey, who has danced since age three, has appeared in New York as a member of Eugene-based ZAPP (Zreliak Artistic Performing Productions). Strand, who waited until she was four to begin dancing, includes ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop in her dossier.

Great shape

In addition, as Callahan noted, “We’re in as good shape as the girls on the basketball team.”

Orrey added, “It’s just a different kind of endurance.”

With back-to-back Metro games, the girls normally perform for over four hours, plus another six to 10 hours every week in cheer and dance team practices.

“People don’t realize how hard we work on our routines,” said Purdom.

“It takes a lot to memorize our routines,” Brewis-Condon emphasized. “Every week there’s something new.”

The girls qualified for the Pro Bowl trip by earning one of three “Superior” ratings given out in last summer’s United Spirit Association four-day cheerleading camp in Santa Clara, Cal. The Spartans were the only out-of-state squad among the 16 in attendance.

“The competition was more for ourselves, to make the squad better,” said Purdom. “They gave us a routine, then we changed it how we wanted to. We were judged on how well we executed it.”

“They included what we put into it, our personalities,” added Callahan. She noted that although the eight-girl Bainbridge team was the smallest, they won the “spirit stick” twice for demonstrating the most spirit.

They also showed the most anxiety, when Strand broke her wrist the second day.

“They (camp organizers) took me to the hospital without telling anyone,” she said. “I was alone in some little room, and no one knew where I was.”

After several anxious hours, the rest of the team caught up with Strand, though her injury meant a quick change in their routine – which they obviously did well.

Orrey said she was looking forward to the trip.

“I’ve always been a big football fan, though I don’t know what to expect. It doesn’t seem like reality yet.”

By this afternoon, it will.

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