Reunited and it "Cheers" so Good!
Were cheerleading and dancing a part of your life when you were younger?
I began dancing at the age of four. My first dance class was ballet taught strictly in French in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I moved a lot when I was younger, and I always felt comfort turning to dance, even in a new environment. One thing people may not know about me is that I am legally blind in one eye, so my parents never felt comfortable letting me play ball sports because of fear of injuring my “good” eye. So dance for me was my only outlet. I loved ballet, lyrical, hip hop, and tap. My first competitive experience in the dance arena was when I joined my high school drill team and we competed nationally. It was then that I learned just how much I love being a part of a team, and being surrounded by incredible women with similar interests.
You were a member of the illustrious Cincinnati Bengals Cheerleaders. Please tell us about your cheerleading experience with the Bengals.
What many people don’t know about my background is that the first year I lived in Los Angeles, at the age of 21, I auditioned for the Laker Girls. I was devastated when I didn’t make it beyond the first cut. When I moved to Cincinnati to be with my boyfriend at the time (now husband of six years), he encouraged me to try out for the Ben-Gals. Initially, I was so scared of that same disappointment, but the experience really helped me to understand what is necessary to mentally- and physically succeed in the audition-process. I cheered at every regular-season home game during the 2008-2009 season. What I don’t normally share with others is that I had to fight for my spot on the field at first – I struggled with getting outside of my comfort zone and dancing BIG and with power. That balletic/graceful quality wasn’t doing me any favors on the football field. But I worked my tail off, shadowed veterans and picked up the nuance hair flips and performance style. I also made the 2009-2010 squad, which was during the same time as my wedding. After getting married, we quickly learned I was pregnant! I remember announcing this to the team while we were signing calendars – it was very bittersweet to leave the squad, but I was able to cheer them along in the stands that season. J
What are your most memorable moments as a cheerleader?
Looking back on the experience, my favorite memories were finding out I made the squad for two seasons, meeting my best friends, experiencing that nervous/nauseous feeling right before running out through the tunnel before game-time, getting teary-eyed each time there was a fly-over during the national anthem, and, of course, being in the best shape of my life! I missed the camaraderie and physicality so much that two years ago I taught a dance-fitness class at a local community center that mirrored an NFL Cheerleader practice.
What advice would you give to a current or future cheerleader/dancer?
First and foremost, never let fear direct your actions. Secondly, if you truly want something, anything, badly enough, you will get it. It may not be on the first try, but with enough hard work and determination, you can do anything. Really! And lastly, never let a setback get you down. It’s those experiences, those challenging circumstances, those “failures” that really shape who we are and prepare us for where we want to be.
Tell us what you are doing now and what you do in your spare time.
I currently live in the Silicon Valley in San Jose, California. I recently left my medical device sales job and started working with the Proactiv doctors to launch new anti-aging skincare products and at-home tools with Rodan + Fields. I knew I wanted to work, but also needed more balance in my life, so I love that I totally work from home and on my own schedule – and it is so easy to share products that actually work. I would love to work with my fellow former-cheerleaders who might be looking for a change in career or something fun and flexible on the side. My favorite part of my business (along with foundation-free skin) is that this allows me to spend more time with my two little boys, Preston (5) and Zack (3). I regularly take barre classes, celebrate the good in each day, and find a way to add value to at least one person’s life daily.
Travel destination: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Movie: “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”
Quote: “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” -Brene Brown
Thank you so much Samantha for your time and interview with Alumni Cheerleaders! Wishing you continued success with your personal endeavors!! If you would like to connect with Samantha, click here.