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Sutherland marching into Superdome as a Saintsation

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / July 27, 1998

LAPLACE – When the New Orleans Saints go marching in this season, one ofthe those helping lead cheers for the team will be young lady from theRiver Parishes.Angelic Sutherland, a native of Vacherie, recently realized the dream ofmany a young girl when she was selected as a member of the Saintsations,the Saints’ dance team. Sutherland will be one of 40 cheerleadersperforming routines during the team’s games in the Superdome during the1998 season. Sutherland got her start in gymnastics at the age of 11 and participated inthat sport until she entered East St. John High School. At East St. John,Sutherland started running track and getting involved in cheerleading. Shesaid her experience in gymnastics definitely helped her when it came toroutines for cheerleading.”Gymnastics helped as far as the jumps and tumbling,” Sutherland said.”It always adds to it when one cheerleader is a tumbler. It adds to theappearance. Gymnastics really complements cheerleading.”After graduating from East St. John, Sutherland went to LSU and then toNicholls State where she graduated this past May with a degree inCommunication Dis-orders/Speech Therapy. Next month, she will beginworking in the St. John the Baptist Parish School System as a speechtherapist assistant.Earlier this year, a friend of Sutherland’s who had been with theSaintsations for three years asked her to try out for the squad with her. InMay, Sutherland began the first step, the interview process in which thosewho are trying out are asked about themselves and why they want to be aSaintsation. From there, they must perform a dance with cuts made at thatpoint.”When I first arrived, I was very intimidated,” Sutherland said. “Therewere a lot of good girls. I was praying to get past the interview round.”Sutherland said she was nervous doing the dance routine because theveteran team members, who must also try out but who get to skip to thefinal round, were watching her.”They are all watching you to see what their competition is,” Sutherlandsaid. “When you do the dance, everybody does so good you wonder how theyare going to make cuts.” Those that make it past that point enter the finals in which they mustpractice and perform another dance. The finals are open to the public withthe dancers trying out together in groups of eight.The squad will travel with the team to Shreveport at the beginning ofAugust for the Saints’ scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys. Suther-landsaid the squad is working extra hard for that game because the DallasCowboy cheerleaders, the ones many a aspiring cheerleader would like tobe one day, will be there as well.The Saintsations have been practicing twice a week for two hours and willincrease that to three days a week as the scrimmage draws closer.Sutherland said the team practices about that long during the regularseason.The squad performs at all home games, both preseason and regular season.The squad splits into four groups of 10 cheerleaders each with one groupin each corner of the field. The squad performs about 40 routines per game. It also performs duringpregame activities and during some halftime shows.In addition to performing at football games, Sutherland said theSaintsations are asked to do a lot of promotions. Sutherland and a numberof the other team members attended a Fox 8 News breakfast Tuesdaymorning for sponsors of the Mike Ditka show.”We make appearances for charities, any type of group that calls or needshelp with their dance teams,” Sutherland said.For an aspiring cheerleader, Sutherland advises them to get involved at ayoung age, whether in gymnastics or in cheerleading. She said being an NFLcheerleader is also more than being able to perform the routines.”It is not just about being the best dancer or cheerleader,” Sutherlandsaid. “You have to have personality and the right attitude and carryyourself well. We represent the whole Saints organization.”

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