Rams select their 2016-17 cheerleading squadLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Rams select their 2016-17 cheerleading squad

After their move from St. Louis, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and his staff, along with the general manager and his staff, set about putting the team together and figuring out the logistics of where the team would train, have off-season workouts, where the players and staff would live — in essence, they were assembling a football franchise almost from scratch.

Equally important for Los Angeles Rams is the cheerleading squad. The team has had cheerleaders since 1974, when they were first known as “The Embraceable Ewes.” Thankfully the team decided to drop that moniker and simply call them the Rams Cheerleaders, first in St. Louis and now in Los Angeles.

Brittany

Brittany

Leading the efforts to build a new squad is cheerleader director Keely Fimbres-Bledsoe and choreographer John Peters. In March they held workshops to teach some basic steps to the hundreds of women vying for the team. Then on April 2 they held preliminary auditions in which nearly 400 aspiring cheerleaders attended.

Then, on April 5 the team announced the 66 finalists on their website and these young women would then audition to make the final squad of 28. That final audition was held April 17 at the L.A. Forum in Inglewood. In the 12 days between the announcement of the finalists and the final auditions, the dancers rehearsed their dance routines and had interviews with members of the Rams staff.

On Sunday all the nervous waiting was over. The final auditions were open to the public and a crowd of about 300 showed up to cheer on their favorites. It started with the women walking out to the front of the stage to answer questions from the night’s emcee, Dani Klupenger, who is also the Rams reporter. Some of the questions were about which super power they would like to have, what would be essential to living on a deserted island, favorite food, who would they like to have dinner with, living or not — Beyoncé one contestant answered, to great applause.

After a brief intermission the dancers then had a beauty contest in bikinis. The uniforms they will wear on field will cover a little more of their bodies than bikinis, but it gave the judges a chance to evaluate them on their physical appearance. One of the judges said some of them should have skipped wearing high heels and another gave them kudos for having the courage to go through with the entire audition process.

Mandi

Mandi

The judges were Demetrius Bledsoe, a marketing and music executive, Nick Chavez, s celebrity hair stylist, Nick Cooper, a celebrity voice coach, Lisa Estrada, the L.A. Lakers Vice President of Entertainment and Facilities, Marshall Faulk, one of the great running backs in the team’s history, Jamala Gaither, a film and television producer, Angela King-Twitero a former NFL cheerleader and the designer who created the L.A. Rams cheer uniforms, Emily Pastoors, a former ballerina and wife of Rams executive Tony Pastoors, and finally John Peters, the chorographer for the L.A. Rams Cheerleaders.

After the bikini portion the women then performed, two at a time, the dance moves they had been working on since April 2. After 65 of the women performed (one of the 66 didn’t take part after the bikini segment), it was left up to the judges to give their scores for each dancer.

For them some of the finalists might have been obvious choices to either choose or send home, but for the untrained eye, the majority of the finalists had great performances.

After several videos, Klupenger announced they had chosen the 2016-17 L.A. Rams Cheerleaders. Faulk came to the stage and spoke about the importance of the cheerleaders and what it took to even audition, let alone succeed in making the squad. It’s hard getting up in front of a crowd of people wearing only a bikini and high heels, but it gave the judges a better understanding of the dancers’ poise.

Ariel

Ariel

And then the final 28, the L.A. Rams Cheerleaders were announced one at a time, each cheerleader escorted to the stage by Rampage, the Rams mascot. It was a very exciting night for the women who made the inaugural L.A. Rams Cheerleaders. It is a bit of history they can now tell their family and friends: they were part of the first Rams cheerleading squad after the team returned to Los Angeles. For the complete list you can visit the Rams website Here.

Afterwards the cheerleaders and judges, along with the Keely Fimbres-Bledsoe and John Peters assembled on stage for the media. Peters took a few moments to answer a couple questions, beginning with the squad’s diversity.

The Rams didn’t have to try and have a diverse group of applicants audition for the cheer squad. Los Angeles — and Southern California — is such a diverse community they had women from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds tryout and make the squad. That will be evident when the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders makes their first public appearance in uniform.

Peters said, “It’s hard in some places to achieve that level of diversity.” There are some places in the U.S. that just aren’t as diverse as some of the bigger cities like Los Angeles, New York and Miami.”

Four of the judges, John Peters is on the left.

Four of the judges, John Peters is on the left.

When asked to relate this new Rams cheerleading squad to the general themes of this election year, Peters said, “It tells you beauty comes in many colors, shapes and sizes and backgrounds.”

Peters spends a lot of time teaching and training his squads, but he said he does get a chance to sit back and watch the games and enjoy the cheerleading squad, as a fan and their choreographer. Peters also said he’s been a Rams fan for a long time. “People will come out and cheer the Rams even if their first season isn’t great. They’re so happy to have football back in Los Angeles — and in the Los Angeles Coliseum. It’s such a beautiful stadium.”

Of course in 2019 the Rams will have a modern NFL-caliber stadium in Inglewood, but for now nostalgic Rams fans can enjoy their team in the past home of the team.

In our first video report on the Rams cheer auditions our reporter interviewed three of the women who were trying to make the team. One didn’t make the round of 66. Of the two who did, only one, Valerie, made the squad. After the initial auditions Valerie said she was, “really nervous, just waiting for the list to be posted.”

That Tuesday after the auditions when the list was posted on the Rams website Valerie was at work. “I smiled a lot to myself,” she said, but after work Valerie couldn’t contain her excitement.

Valerie

Valerie

They went through two weeks of rehearsals for the final auditions, so all of the prospective cheerleaders would be prepared to do their best. Once she got to the Forum, Valerie said she was nervous once again, but calmed down once she began dancing in the audition.

After the scores were tallied and the girls chosen, Valerie said she had a “rush of emotion. I almost cried.”

Valerie had once been a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers. When asked about Kobe Bryant’s final game, Valerie said it was so exciting, like in his younger days. “It didn’t seem like the end. It felt like he could go on for more.”

A common sentiment for many Lakers fans.

The L.A. Rams haven’t announced any public events for the new L.A. Rams Cheerleaders, but  they will be the brand ambassadors for the team, something all the cheerleaders take seriously. When they do make public appearances they will proudly represent the Los Angeles Rams and the City of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has NFL football once again — and they have great cheerleading squad to help introduce the team to the fans.

Photos by Tim Forkes, all the women in the photos are members of the L.A. Rams Cheerleaders.


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that. Contact the author.
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