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New England Patriots Cheerleaders Ranked as NFL's Top Squad

CNBC's sport business columnist gives New England top spot in annual cheerleader rankings


FOXBOROUGH, Mass - Darren Rovell, a highly regarded sports business columnist for CNBC, rated the New England Patriots as having the best cheerleading squad in the NFL in 2012.

Rovell ranked every NFL squad by the brand equity that has been developed by each cheerleading team through marketing, social media, community involvement and fan interaction.  New England Patriots Cheerleaders ranked ahead of the prestigious Dallas Cowboys, providing insight into the growing synergy that exists between the global fan base and the organization.

Rovell highlights New England's ability to harness and develop relationships with fans and aspiring cheerleaders through their interactive website. The website encourages fans to engage with the team through "Cheer365," where fans can scroll through past photos of team members from 1995-2012, comparing pictures throughout the years. To make the online experience more personable, the website includes segments called "Postcards from Paradise," a promotional video from the perspective of the cheerleaders marketing the swimsuit calendar shoot in Aruba. Furthermore, the website content contains a revolving "Cheerleader Spotlight," which highlights a member of the team for a period of time. The cheerleaders' active online presence is a microcosm of the brand expansion evident in the outreach that spreads beyond the Northeast region.

Last winter, Tracy Sormanti, the Director of the Patriots Cheerleaders, along with five members of the team, spent 13 days during the holiday season visiting military bases in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Qatar, where they participated in humanitarian assistance projects and performed shows to increase morale. Locally, the team fosters their brand identity through the "Junior Patriots Cheerleaders," a  program - founded in 2002 - that gives aspiring youth cheerleaders the opportunity to learn, practice and attend appearances with the Patriots Cheerleaders, concluding with an on-field performance with the squad at Gillette Stadium during a Patriots game.

The Patriots Cheerleaders have been able to use their individual talents, educational backgrounds and philanthropic desires to create the strong brand due to the team's diversity. Three members have family connections to the organization. Asia Barnes' and Alexa Flutie's fathers played for the Patriots; Barnes' father is 2008 NFL Hall of Fame inductee Andre Tippett and Flutie's father is Boston College star, Heisman Trophy winner and former Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie. Athena Lazo's mother was a Patriots cheerleader in 1984.

Outside of organizational ties, Stephanie Petronelli is an accomplished vocalist whose debut CD was nominated for nine Grammy Awards.  Petronelli was one of the cheerleaders who traveled to the Middle East and during the trip she performed for the troops. Britni Baron is a junior Olympian volleyball player whose aunt is the CEO of the New Hampshire chapter of Make-A-Wish foundation.  Like Baron, Kayla Vernaglia is connected to a non-profit organization. Vernaglia's aunt and uncle founded My Brother's Keeper in 1988, a non-profit Christian ministry located in Easton, Mass, which donates furniture, food and clothing to families in need. The Patriots Cheerleaders are highly active with these organizations as a result of Baron and Verngalia's connections. Collectively, team members have pursued advanced degrees in accounting, dentistry, environmental engineering, nursing and pharmaceuticals.

The Patriots Cheerleaders over the next few months will participate in various philanthropic activities: the Flutie Bowl, an event to benefit the Doug Flutie Jr. foundation for autism; Fitness for a Cure, a benefit to aide St. Judes Children's Research Hospital; TeamWalk for CancerCare in participation with Lowell General Hospital to help generate additional funds for patients undergoing treatment.

Rovell ranked the Patriots Cheerleaders as the NFL's most brand-successful squad. The Patriots Cheerleaders will continue to broaden their outreach to further interact and engage with the prospering fan base in 2012.

For additional information regarding auditions, clinics, community appearances, feature articles, team members and photos please visit   (/cheerleaders/index.html).

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