When it’s game time, you are focused primarily on one thing: the win. Regardless of which sport or team you’re watching, your attention is centralized on the players running up and down the field or court to carry their (and your) team to victory. After all, the players are the ones who reap the benefits of fame, fortune, and opportunity for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to the game.
But what about the people who aren’t a direct actor in the game, but whose same hard work and dedication to their career is often left out of the sport’s spotlight? There are hundreds of behind the scenes people that make the production of a sports event possible; from referees to ushers, to production crew to ticket sellers, and even the concession stand workers. But I’m referring to those on the sidelines, who are entertaining us in a different way.
Dancers and cheerleaders often put in as many long hours of practice and training as professional athletes in their career, but traditionally receive much less in the way of notoriety and monetary pay, if they are able to land a paying gig at all. They are also very likely to be working a regular 9 to 5 job before heading to the stadium or arena to put in more hours for their second job as a performer.
Like many professional athletes, cheerleaders are also no stranger to feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and frustration that coincide with tryouts and auditions, as well as from game day itself. The downside is that dancers and cheerleaders are routinely paid much less (and respected less) than their all-star athlete counterparts, leading many dancers and cheerleaders to forgo their dream, “hobby” job for the sake of a higher paycheck.
Some might ask, “Well then, why do they do it?” Their response is usually, “Why do you do the things you love, even for free?” And that’s just it, most of them dance and perform because they love it, it brings them joy, it doesn’t feel like work, and yes, some would even do it for free.
One person that feels this way is former NBA and NFL dancer, GeNienne Samuels. While she agrees that getting paid is fair and right, Samuels danced for many years for “free” and wouldn’t change a thing about her experience as an NFL cheerleader. So much so that she helps women and men gain experience to do what she did as a pro cheerleader. She works hard to give dancers and cheerleaders a fairer chance at not only landing their dream gig, but also coaches them through the prep and audition process and bestows them with the knowledge and skills to succeed anywhere in life.
Work Hard, Dance Harder
Samuels spent eight years as a cheerleader for the Washington football team (formerly the Redskins) where she was co-captain for two years, captain for four, and the 2004 Pro Bowl Cheerleader before going on to become a Wizards Girl for the Washington Wizards NBA team. Though she is now retired from her role as a professional dancer, Samuels is the former In-Arena Host for the Wizards (the reason she retired as a cheerleader) and is currently the In-Game host for the Washington Football Team, as well as, the President/CEO and co-founder of Sideline Prep, an internationally recognized prep company for professional and semi-professional dancers and cheerleaders.
“Sideline Prep started out as a ‘test run’ business idea in 2010,” says Samuels, “but has become an international professional cheer and dance prep company. We coach hundreds of ladies (and now men) across the United States and other countries to land a spot on a pro or semi pro dance team. But we go beyond just “simple” audition prep. We foster a learning environment that enhances our clients’ mindset and confidence, enabling them to live their purpose, have faith in themselves, and be bold with their actions, desires and dreams to go pro!”
As an established entrepreneur, as well as, a multi-award-winning career-long dancer and cheerleader, Samuels knows that preparing for auditions and try-outs is only one piece of the puzzle. According to Samuels, the information and tools she and her team at Sideline Prep provide not only help their clients prepare for auditions, “but it also makes them more prepared and better equipped for life,” as Sideline Prep offers guidance in health, nutrition, interview skills, application submission, and even public speaking in order to create a “total package” that sports teams seek in cheerleaders.
Stepping Up From the Sidelines
In removing the uncertainties and guesswork out of preparation and auditions, Samuels and her organization are giving aspiring professional cheerleaders the knowledge, style, and glamour to walk into professional cheerleading prep classes and auditions with confidence. With coaches who have been there and done that to help Lovelies fast track success, the Sideline Prep team has helped dancers get on over 20 teams across the NFL and NBA.
Along with Sideline Prep’s 98% customer satisfaction rating, Samuels’s extensive coaching program has allowed for more than 70% of program participants to be acquired by pro or semi pro sports dance teams. The reach of these training programs has even extended overseas to include Lovelies from Japan and a Brazilian, who recently was selected to join the Patriots this season.
“Sideline Prep is highly respected in the industry,” Samuels adds. “We have been in business the longest, have more connections with the industry’s top professional cheer and dance coaches and have helped hundreds of dancers and cheerleaders become internationally recognized for their hard work and dedication to their careers. And the best part is our clients are truly transformed from the inside out after working with us. They go on to not just make dance teams, but win pageants, start businesses, get promoted and crush their goals!”
When we asked Samuels what gives her mission with Sideline Prep a leg up over the competition, her response was as concise as it is simple: “We Care More! Plus, we get results.”