Stepping into the unknown can be a scary feeling. Helen Keller once said “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”. Everyone has a dream in life that seems unreachable, untouchable, only an ambition and not a reality, but unless you put yourself out there, that dream will never come to fruition. Natalie Taylor had a dream of one day cheering for the team that she had rooted-on for years. It wasn’t until, “I was at an event called Rock and Jock, held as part of the Super Bowl celebrations of 2004 held in Houston, where I physically saw the cheerleaders in person that I knew it was something I really wanted to do,” says Natalie.
Natalie, wise beyond her years, decided instead of just admiring the cheerleaders from afar, she would walk up and chat with them. She came to learn, that there were prep classes for the tryouts and in 2007, just five years after the Texans inaugural year, six years after the inception of the Houston Texans Cheerleaders, as they started a year before the team to get the promotions up and going, Natalie tried out to represent her team, not in the stands, but on the field.
Most professional cheerleading teams have some type of prep class before tryouts, the Texans actually hold a convention style class called ”Real Deal” on top of their other training classes. “Real Deal” teaches multiple dances from different choreographers around the US, as well as allowing you to hear helpful tips, and enables you a chance to talk to many of the Houston-Area professional cheer coaches. To take it a step further, they have an expo area, filled with pointers on nutrition, professional photos, hair and makeup, tanning and much, much more.
Trying out for a cheerleading squad isn’t typically just a one-year venture; it takes studying what that individual team desires: dance style, specific body, hair, makeup as well as defined looks, demographic, and showing the organization and the coach that you have the passion and drive to do whatever it takes to make that team and once you make it, they want to know you will put the continued effort in, to make that team the unified best it can be for your duration on the team. Natalie’s first year trying out for the Houston Texans Cheerleading Squad (HTC) was a huge success! She made it all the way to finals before being cut. She was so close she could taste it. She was determined to try again. Her second year she made it to round four! Round four you think to yourself? I didn’t realize cheerleaders had to go through so many rounds to make the team? Some professional cheerleading tryouts can last up to two months! Natalie’s third year she made it to the second round, and her fourth she made it to the round right before finals. After being cut followed by a call back; she was right on the cusp.
Natalie says, “I knew I was my own worst enemy; I didn’t want to give up, but I didn’t know what else to do.” One of the benefits of going to the prep classes, is the coaches have an opportunity to see your face; they start to recognize you. The coach of the HTC, Alto, reached out on Facebook asking if anyone knew ‘Git it Girl’, as that’s what Alto called her. Through social media they were connected and she was on her way. Natalie said, “My problem was at tryouts. I would get in my head. There was always one part I would psych myself out on, and miss a combination of steps. When Alto reached out to me, she was giving me a chance to perform with some of the girls from the squad at the MLS game.” She wanted to see how Natalie would perform after putting in practice, which was unlike the platform of tryouts, where you learn the dance and immediately perform it in front of the judges. After Natalie’s performance at the MLS game, and now ‘Real Deal’ was upon them, which meant tryouts were right around the corner, Alto looked Natalie straight in the eyes and said, “Just go out there and dance, we aren’t ending world hunger. We aren’t changing the world with this. Just go out and dance.” It’s what finally did the trick and Natalie went out there and danced her heart out. On her fifth year of trying out for the HTC, SHE MADE IT!
Natalie cheered for the HTC for one year in 2011 and it was a dream come true. Something few can say they’ve done. Staring up at the fans in their deep steel blue, liberty white and battle red, which coincidentally Natalie says was one of the Texans trivia questions she was asked during one of her interviews. When trying out for a professional team it’s not just about the look and the performance, it’s also about the knowledge base of the team. Did you do your homework? Some teams ask about players, owners, colors, mascots and others may get into more specifics about who from their team has been inducted into the Hall-of-Fame or who had the most rushing yards the year before. It’s a time when you have to be prepared for anything.
Natalie went on to try out for the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons in the years to come. There is a great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” Natalie didn’t quite make the cut for those two teams, but she took the risk, that many others wouldn’t dare do. She realized that each team has diverse qualifications on what they are looking for to suit their team, but also that each team parallel themselves in other aspects. As stated before, they all have prep classes, where the coach shows up to at least one practice, and you have an opportunity to speak with her. Some teams charge for the classes and others don’t. For the tryouts, you have teams like the Texans and Dolphins that don’t charge, but others like the Falcons, charge a small fee of $20.
All three teams have the requirement of wearing a mid-drift top with shorts, but there are slight differences between them all. Natalie says, “The Falcons tend to customize their tops with jewels and such, but the bottoms are more of a trunk style, almost like a swimsuit bottom. The hair is styled in what some might call a southern vibe with curl, but not as big and flashy as you might see in the pageant world. I would describe them as a southern peach look, with big southern hair.” Then you have the Dolphins, Natalie describes them as wearing, “custom-made outfits, with a large amount of bling and color. Their hair was more straight with a possible natural curl; more runway, high fashion hair. Miami definitely goes for the south beach vibe, with the more Latino feel. As for the Texans, Natalie states, “The majority have custom made, blinged-out outfits, with bright colors. Hair is big leaning more towards that pageant feel. I would say their style leans toward that all American girl, really pretty, glamorous; it’s all about a look.”
And you can’t forget about the shoes; something that every girl loves! “The Falcons prefer a jazz sneaker with leg warmers, while the Dolphins prefer to wear the white tennis shoes and the Texans lean more towards the chunky heeled boot you see on the field”, says Natalie.
Point is, do your research, and don’t give up! Every team is looking for something different and you might not make it on the first try, but nothing in life comes easy. Put the work in and you will see results. The Texans are now a part of Natalie’s life. It’s where she made her closest friends, and memories that will live with her forever. Find the team that fits your style, your build, your demographic, or your look and put yourself out there. “Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure” Paulo Coelho.
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