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Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:55 PM EDT
Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 8:30 AM to 9:15 AM EDT
Sat., Aug. 01, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM EDT
Cheerleader Q & A: Athena
Q: Tell us about where you grew up.
Athena: I grew up in Southbridge, Mass. and went to Shepherd Hill Regional High School. I started out college at UMass on a full educational scholarship before transferring to Morrisville State College. I loved it, a little cow town in upstate New York. After changing schools, I was able to prosper in the new environment.
Q: It must have been a tough transition to transfer to a different college.
Athena: UMass was just too big for me. I'm more of a small-town girl. I liked the small environment feel at that school. My college had less than 3,000 students - perfect for me. I was elected president of our student government, I was a resident assistant and I was an editor of the school newspaper. I was able to do more there. I just graduated this past May with a Bachelor of Science in journalism and communication for online media.
Q: What are some of your future career aspirations?
Athena: With such a difficult job market out there, I am considering going back to school for my master's degree. I love learning. But for the near future, I would consider working in public relations or advertising.
Q: Have you always been a Patriots fan?
Athena: Oh yeah, since I was little. My mom was a Patriots Cheerleader in 1984. It's so cool that we share that experience! In my first Christmas picture, I was in a Patriots cheerleader outfit and my brother wore a Patriots jersey. That's all I've ever know and it was especially difficult going to college in New York with lots of Jets and Giants fans. I couldn't see myself cheering for any other football team.
Q: What made you want to become a Patriots Cheerleader?
Athena: I did obviously want to be a Patriots Cheerleader because my mom was one. I thought it was so cool growing up, I proudly told my friends about it all the time. I wanted to join a team that was a tightly knit group and I have also made life-long friends while on the squad. It's a sisterhood.
Q: Tell us about the audition process.
Athena: I originally auditioned in 2008 and made it through the first round of cuts. I made it through boot camp, but ended up getting cut. That was hard to get so close to being on the squad and then being told to wait a year. I decided to take a year off and not audition in 2009 because I wanted to work on everything. I came back for the 2010 audition and it is overwhelming being in the same room with hundreds of talented candidates. I just kept pushing, dancing and smiling. I guess the judges saw there was something there - deep down.
Q: What was the football knowledge quiz like that you had to take during auditions?
Athena: I think that if you're going to be a cheerleader for an NFL team, you should probably be passionate about football and be knowledgeable on the subject already. I got the quiz and felt confident, but it was more than just basic football stuff. I felt accomplished after I learned about all the questions on the quiz. A lot of people including guys wouldn't know all that we had to answer! We do a lot of appearances, so it is good to know about what we are cheering for and representing.
Q: What would you like to take away from your experience as a Patriots Cheerleader?
Athena: I feel like I've taken so much away from this experience already. When you join the team you're a rookie and scared. Eventually see yourself transform. My appearance has changed, my level of activity has changed and the friends I've made have made it such a valuable experience. I've learned so much about who I am and what I'm capable of. I don't know what else there is to come, but I'm excited to learn.
Q: You have a unique first name.
Athena: Everyone thinks I'm Greek. I get that all the time. I'm actually Albanian - that's as close as I get to being Greek. It was actually my great-grandmother's name.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
Athena: I'm a big computer nerd. I like to edit photos on the computer - also like to read and write a lot. I also like to scrapbook which is also kind of nerdy I guess [laughs]. Getting in the car and just going for a long drive to listen to music also can be very relaxing to me.