PURSE STRINGS

LESLIE ANDERSON BRINGS IT ON!

For most working women, being able to retire at the tender age of 35 is an impossible dream. But for Washington, D.C. area native Leslie Anderson, it’s very much a reality.  Just like superstar linebacker Ray Lewis, Leslie – who has been a cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens for the past 11 years – ended her career with the team this past February on a Super Bowl-winning high note.  

 

To say that Leslie Anderson is among the NFL’s elite cheerleaders would be an understatement. In addition to serving as team captain for 8 years and being the recipient of the cheerleader MVP award for 8 seasons, she was selected to represent the Ravens organization in Hawaii as the 2007 Pro Bowl cheerleader and represented the Ravens organization as part of the Alaska 2011 Super Bowl tour.

Leslie has enjoyed the second-longest cheerleading career in NFL cheerleading history, and after catching her breath from the Super Bowl festivities, she sat down to share some insights and advice for men and women who’d like to follow in her footsteps.

“There’s a misconception that professional cheerleaders aren’t ‘real cheerleaders.’ I’ve been dancing and cheering for 31 years,” Leslie told us. “The Baltimore Ravens are the only co-ed cheerleading team in the NFL. Our style is a combination of cheerleading, dance, and gymnastics. It’s very physical, requires a lot of training and athleticism and is very similar to collegiate cheerleading. Most of our cheerleaders come from elite college cheerleading programs from around the country.”

The process for choosing among so many elite candidates is, as one can imagine, quite rigorous. While the tryout process varies from team to team, the Ravens employ a month-long tryout process including 5 rounds of competition, interviews similar to a corporate job and a thorough physical conducted by the team’s physicians.

“During the final round [of tryouts], the final candidates practice together as the director and coaching staff observe. They are looking for well-rounded individuals who can blend together as a team.”

 

Being well-rounded, it seems, is as big a part of a cheerleader’s role as the ability to ignite a crowd.

“Our organization prides itself in choosing well-rounded women and men to represent the Baltimore Ravens.  We’re all required to have full-time jobs, be full-time students or full-time mothers outside of cheerleading,” Leslie shared.  “Most of the women on our team either already have careers or are working towards having a career. We have team members who are entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, teachers, military personnel, PhD. candidates and medical and dental school students.”

Beyond their gameday performance duties of entertaining and interacting with fans, the team’s cheerleaders serve as ambassadors for the Baltimore Ravens organization by attending charity and community appearances.

“We do hundreds of appearances a year,” she shared. “I’ve traveled overseas to over 10 different countries to visit and support our military troops and we also work closely with our team charity – the Ronald McDonald House.”

And, of course, Leslie and her teammates were there to share in the victory as the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

Having enjoyed such a rewarding experience with the team, it’s no surprise that Leslie intends to remain a part of the organization that has brought her so much personal and professional gratification.

“[Now that I've retired,] I plan to continue my career in the fitness and project management industry, and I also plan to stay involved as a choreographer for the cheerleading team,” she said.  “At some point in the near future I would love to start my own professional cheerleading consulting company and write a book about my 11 year career as a cheerleader. I’m open to where God is taking me.”

 

For more information about the Baltimore Ravens organization, please visit:

www.baltimoreravens.com/

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