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Laura Vikmanis

Bengals Cheerleader                      


 What advice do you have for an aspiring pro cheerleader?

There are hundreds of girls each year trying out to cheer for an NFL team.  To stand out and above all the other girls and get noticed, keeping up your dance and cheer skills is a must.  I only cheered one year, 7th grade and was on the drill team my senior year, but I was in dance classes from the time I was 3 years old through high school.  But even if you don't have dance experience, your cheer skills will be highly utilized by the squad.  You should also go to any and all clinics and meetings that they offer prior to the try-outs.  Each team of girls has a specific "look".  The Cincinnati Ben-Gals likes variety in their girls.  We are all different heights, body shapes and have different lengths of hair.  Some squads like their girls to look exactly the same.  At the clinics they will review the type of dance and cheer technique they are looking for and also give tips on how to dress and wear make-up for the try-out.  The make-up we wear on the field is not something we would wear everyday.  It it is more like stage make-up.  They can teach you what they want to see at the clinic.  Also be sure you are in tip-top shape.  The Ben-Gals do have a weight requirement, but you don't have to be as skinny as you can be.  They are looking for healthy, athletic girls, not skinny girls.  Above all, the team will be looking for the total package...girls that are fit, athletic, can dance and cheer AND have a great personalities.  10% of what we do is on the field, the rest of the time we are in the community and interacting with fans and the public.  Eat right and exercise consistently, keep up your dance /cheer skills and most importantly, let your true personality shine through.


 What has been your career highlight so far?

My career highlight so far has for sure been the recent Yahoo.com article.  It was fun having the film crew at the game all day and at our practice filming every moment!  The article has received tons of attention and possibilities for future projects, so I am excited about that.  Prior to the article, my best highlight was being chosen as Cheerleader of the Week.  At each game (10 total home games that we cheer at, we don't travel with the team) they will pick one cheerleader who has been active on the squad with community events, knowing her dances, dressing with full hair and make-up to each practice and a good team attitude.  I was chosen my first year on the squad which I felt was my greatest accomplishment.  My whole family and children were at that game so it was a very special moment.


Who were your heroes growing up?

My heros were definitely dance related.  I really respected and looked up to Madonna.  She was not well known at the time I was growing up and she quickly became very popular.  I loved her dance style and loved how she was so versatile with all her music and music videos.  She was always going for what she believed in and never let anything stand in her way.


What is the hardest part about being a cheerleader?

The hardest part about being a cheerleader is keeping your fitness level up through the year.  The job is very physically demanding so we are constantly balancing fueling our activity (eating) and keeping our weight down.  At the games we are at the stadium at 8am for a 1pm game.  We do a full practice before the game and dance almost constantly through the 3 1/2 - 4 hour game.  We practice 2-4 nights a week for 2 1/2 -3 hours.  On practice nights we work on learning and reviewing dances and conditioning.  The second hardest thing is remembering all the dances and cheers.  We have about 10 short dances we rotate through the game.  We also do 2 long end zone dances, a long pre-game dance and on special occasions we do a long half-time show.  This year we did a half-time show on Halloween, our game was ON Halloween, so our show consisted of 40 monsters that danced with us!  It was SO fun!


What inspired you to be a pro cheerleader in your 40's? 

I attended a Bengals game and watched the cheerleaders more than the game one time!  I kept thinking back to all the dancing I did when I was younger and told myself "I want to dance and have fun again just like I did when I was younger!"  So I went to the clinics and then went through the try-out process.  I made it all the way to the finals, but ended up not making it on the team.  I then decided that instead of giving up, I was going to try out again next year.  I worked hard for a year on my fitness level and dance/cheer skills and went back the next year, tried out again and made it!