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Cheerleader auditions see huge turnout

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            The practice bubble at Gillette Stadium was a true field of dreams Sunday as nearly 400 women from all over New England converged for the open preliminary auditions for the 2003 Patriots Cheerleaders. Candidates began arriving in Foxboro early in the morning and the long, talent-filled day ended when the group of just over 60 women chosen to move on to the final round was announced just after 9 p.m.  

After the registration process and a short photo session with each candidate, the women took to learning a short routine. Then, in groups of four, the women presented their skills, including high kicks, splits and the just-learned routine, to a panel of six judges. Two of the more knowledgeable of the judges included current Patriots Cheerleaders Director Tracy Sormanti and Nancy Snyder, former director of the Buffalo Jills, the cheerleading squad of the Buffalo Bills.

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            Once the nearly 400 women had shown their stuff to the beats of Jennifer Lopez's "Jenny from the Block," the judges tabulated the results and came up with a group of slightly more than 120 candidates to move on to the second phase of the preliminary round. This talented group then put to the task of learning a more intricate routine under the tutelage of Sormanti. Showing quick learning abilities and a great deal of courage, the women presented the newer, more difficult routine to the judges less than an hour later.  

Following the second round of the preliminaries the judges again combined their scores and notes, coming up with the final list of 63 women chosen to move on to the final round of auditions to be held on the last weekend in April, Draft Weekend, at Gillette Stadium.

"The audition was a huge success with nearly 400 participants vying for a position on the 2003 Patriots Cheerleading squad," Sormanti said. "The judging panel was very attentive to each candidate during the tabulation process, giving each participant equal and ample consideration. I'm looking forward to meeting the finalists during their personal interviews, which will take place over the next three weeks. The talent, beauty and showmanship reflected in yesterday's group was incredible. The 2003 Patriots Cheerleading squad will be outstanding."

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            The Patriots Cheerleaders are much more than sideline entertainers; they are representative of the organization throughout the community. Each year, squad members assist numerous charitable organizations throughout the region, including the Special Olympics, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Goodwill Industries, just to name a few. The Patriots Cheerleaders have made personal appearances in all six New England states as well as New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, the Grand Bahama Islands, Mexico City, Japan, Bosnia, Italy, Germany, Kosovo and the North Arabian Sea. They have been featured on television programs including *E! Television*, *Entertainment Tonight* and the *Late Show with David Letterman*. On game days during the 2003 season, the squad will entertain Patriots fans from the sidelines of Gillette Stadium with exciting dance routines featuring kick lines and tumbling.  

Once the final 24-member 2003 squad is chosen later this month, the team will be traveling to Daytona Beach, Fla. this June to shoot the 2004 Patriots Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar. A luau, swimsuit contest, squad performance, and interactive beach events will be included in the four-day shoot, which is part of a travel package that is being offered to Patriots fans.

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