What Is the Life of an NFL Cheerleader Like?

03/05/2015 02:00 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2015

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Evony Thompson

Answers by Evony Thompson, Tennessee Titans Cheerleader and full-time interdisciplinary studies student at Tennessee State University.

Nearly 3 years ago May 2012, when I was a rookie, it felt unreal. I was the youngest one on the team, 19 and a sophomore in college. I didn't know what it was like to be a professional so this caused confrontation and delinquencies.

Upon the first night I made the team, I couldn't sleep because I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy.

When you're a rookie, you're trying desperately to be accepted by veterans because you're an outcast, build your brand to increase appearance bookings and favor of the boss/director to help get you selected for calendar cover, more publicity and tours.

The process of becoming a cheerleader is highly competitive, more competitive statistically speaking than becoming a player. Hundreds of girls audition for 5-10 "open spots."

Now being a three year veteran, things run much more smoothly and I'm much more diplomatic. I've experienced amazing things during my travels, appearances and games because of my sacrifices.

It's the most rewarding feeling.

It would be nice to get paid more, but I've made the current funds suffice. Women don't use cheerleading for income. We use it as a stepping stone to:

  1. Help us get better jobs
  2. Establish lifelong connections
  3. The NFL experience

To prepare for games we:

Practice 3 times a week before a Sunday's game. Typically Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Contrary to popular belief, being a cheerleader isn't a full-time career. We practice after work from 7:45 pm-9:45pm. Those days are very tedious.

Choreography changes every game.

Prior to a game, we arrive to the stadium before everyone else. If kickoff is at 12 noon, we have to arrive at 7:30 AM. We practice our dance on the field around 8:30 AM sharp. Then we start the crazy process of getting ready around 9 AM. Our locker room is sort of like the fashion show chaos you see on TV where all the girls are rushing and freaking out. We have hair and makeup artists.

Before every game, we have appearances with different tailgates to sell calendars, autograph posters and take pictures.

It's an amazing, surreal experience. I can't imagine what working the SuperBowl is like. Hopefully, I'll experience that one day.

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