2021 brought a unique set of challenges and triumphs to the Patriots Cheerleaders. After a smaller squad in 2020 consisting of only veteran cheerleaders, we were able to hold a complete audition process in 2021 with a virtual Preliminary Round followed by an in-person Final Audition and Boot Camp. At the end of the months long process, the Patriots Cheerleaders welcomed 18 rookies and one veteran who returned to the squad after several years away, in addition to 14 veterans who returned from the 2020 squad.
The Patriots Cheerleaders were once again able to meet so many members of Patriots Nation at Training Camp in July and August. Each day, the squad performed for fans and held meet & greets. For the rookies, it was their first time performing in front of Patriots fans and was an incredibly memorable experience.
August also brought the return of the popular Junior Patriots Cheerleaders program. In August, the whole squad hosted 300 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 17 for a cheerleading clinic Junior Patriots Cheerleaders learned & performed a routine in addition to learning cheerleading skills.
As the year progressed, the cheerleaders were excited to once again able to participate in appearances throughout New England and had the amazing opportunity to volunteer in the community. They appeared at the Patriot Place Finish at the 50, Clean up Foxboro Day, Special Olympics' Flag Football Championship, and the Patriot Foundation's Gifts from the Gridiron, just to name a few.
In October, nearly 300 Patriots Cheerleaders alumni returned to Gillette Stadium for the Induction of former Director of Cheerleading, Tracy Sormanti, into the Patriots Hall of Fame Presented by Raytheon. She spent 27 years in her role before she passed away in December 2020 and was the first woman to be inducted into the Hall.
The 2021 regular season brought the return of fans to Gillette Stadium and the return of the Patriots Cheerleaders to the sidelines. Performing on the field and meeting so many fans around the stadium was a highlight of the year for so many members of the squad.
2021 also brought the start of a brand-new series of virtual prep classes for men and women interested in auditioning for the squad. Each class was led by a Patriots Cheerleader as they taught dance and technique virtually and shared their knowledge with the next generation of Patriots Cheerleaders.
On Dec. 11, members of the Patriots Cheerleaders participated in a Day of Service to spread holiday cheer. Groups went to four different locations to volunteer: Boston Rescue Mission, Cradles to Crayons, the MSPCA, and Prison Book Program. It was a great day of volunteering together for organizations doing fantastic work in the local community.
As 2021 came to an end, the Patriots Cheerleaders were able to announce this year's Cheerleader of the Year, Julia R. The fifth-year vet will be traveling to Las Vegas at the end of this month to represent the squad at the 2022 Pro Bowl.
As we settle into 2022, the 2021 squad would like to thank Patriots Nation for another great year. Go Pats!