I wanted to start my first blog for NFLGIRLUK by saying thank you for this opportunity and I hope I don’t let you down. Now for business the topic I’m going to start with isn’t free agency, it isn’t the path to the draft, it is about the unsung heroes of The Houston Texans and they are ‘The HTC’. No it’s not a phone!! Let me introduce the Houston Texans Cheerleaders.
On Saturday 16th April they hold the annual tryouts for a place on the team for the upcoming season, around about 1,000 women turned up for last season’s tryouts to make a squad of about 35 and it looks as if that number could be matched. The opportunities that present them when you are lucky enough to pull on the red boots and make the squad are limitless.
It comes at a steep cost though, the hours in the gym, the endless nights practicing and the Team commitments to charity and fans whether that be in person or via social media are grueling but the HTC do it with big hair, a beaming smile and a can do attitude.
I won’t lie I’m a big HTC fan and have spent time queuing to get there autograph or even a picture they are like a force of nature of their own when you see them. Pre game during tailgating you can see them interacting with fans and getting the pep rally going. You might ask why I chose this subject and I understand that, it’s different but something happened that lead to this blog.
On my Twitter timeline the other day it was full of tweets from current cheerleaders who were announcing they were stepping down from the team. This was a huge blow as some of these cheerleaders had been in the squad for 4 years, they are part of the fixtures and are as recognised as much as some of our top players and for them to leave fills you with sadness.
One of those retirees was in fact my personal favourite Delaney a 4 year veteran from Baytown TX, she has called time on here cheerleading experience. She is one of the most recognisable from the HTC and also one of the most popular, this popularity culminating in her being voted and selected to represent the Texans in Hawaii at the Pro bowl. This was a huge honour for Delaney as we know voting is by the public and piers.
I have been lucky enough to meet her in person whilst visiting a Texans game on honeymoon, I was blown away that she recognised me as such a big fan from across the pond, she was very sincere on congratulating me and my wife on getting married and even let me pose for a pic. I even made it to the game when her selection to the Pro Bowl was announced (Jan 3rd v the Jags) and I witnessed first, hand the admiration the entire stadium and the rest of her cheer team had for her. If they only knew then it would be her final regular season game then I’m sure the roof would have come off.
We ask why would they stop or want to get off this roller coaster that is the HTC well the thing is even though A LOT of work goes into what they do these women also go to school and jobs too, they are building a future in the background whilst being firmly in the limelight, they build experience and lifelong friends and fans through the HTC and many go on to successful careers in journalism, finance, teaching etc.
I have a lot of respect for these women who entertain us on game days and for anyone who doubts them I would ask people to walk in their shoes or red boots for a season, because they put in and are as committed to the team as any player are as much of a fan to the Texans and also the local communities and charities as anyone I know.
So I wish good luck to all the HTC who are calling it a day this year and also good luck to all those who are eager to join the ranks on sat 16th of April. As I have heard so many times just “leave it all on the Field” you never know when you will get another shot at an opportunity like this.
To all the NFL fans out there in the UK if you have cheerleaders in your team get behind them this season and support them because if they are rookies that support goes along way, also get to know them as they are part of your team!
(Header image copyright Houston Texans)