By Jay Betsill
HOUSTON — The quest to be a member of the 2014 edition of the Houston Texans Cheerleaders began with a record 1,033 ladies on hand at the Methodist Training Center, better known as the bubble across the street from NRG Stadium.
The ladies were competing for a precious few spots on what has become one of the most popular cheerleading teams throughout the NFL. While many professional teams veteran cheerleaders get a pass into the final round, the returning vets with the Texans had to show up for the April 5th auditions with all of the hopefuls who were chasing their dreams of performing in front of over 70,000 fans at Texans home games.
One of the driving forces behind the Texans cheerleaders popularity has been its domination in the social media front. A prime example of this occurred back in February when a Crosby High senior known as ‘Big Mike” asked first-year cheerleader Caitlyn if she would go to the prom with him if he could get 10,000 retweets. She agreed, he did and the rest is history.
“At first the attention was very overwhelming,” said Caitlyn, who was also Miss Austin Texas USA 2013. “It has slowed down a little now, but at first there were so many interviews and so much interest, but it was really cool to experience that which was due to our social media presence. We are No. 1 in social media, have been for two years now. We like to interact with our fans and that is how all of that happened.
Caitlyn is not the only member of the squad with a pageant background. Second-year cheerleader Madison was Miss Texas Teen USA 2012.
“Growing up in pageants certainly helped with being a part of the Houston Texans Cheerleaders,” Madison said. “Whether it is out in the community for appearances or interacting with people one-on-one, they are both very similar.”
Following multiple rounds of cuts, 53 ladies survived the initial weekend and endured two weeks of auditions that concluded with a dance-off the evening prior to the final announcement on Wednesday April 16.
“The audition process is still fun and exciting,” third-year cheerleader Delaney said. “It is certainly more nerve-racking having been through it all and knowing what is at stake.”
The announcements began at 6:30 p.m. with coach Alto Gray prepared to call the names of the ladies who would be ambassadors of the organization on and off the field. The 53 ladies gathered on the team’s practice field and one-by-one walked down the red carpet to accept their red pom poms until Gray called out the 34th and final name and the anticipated celebration ensued.
Joining Caitlyn, Madison and Delaney on the 2014 Houston Texans Cheerleaders are Allison, Amelia, Antonieta, Ashley, Bethany, Brittan, Brittany, Cassandra, Crystal, Daranesha, Elizabeth, GelesAnn, Jessica, Karrie, Kelli, Kimberly, Kristy, Krstyal, Laurel, Lesha, Libby, Liz, Natsuki, Osmara, Rachel, Rebecca, Sarah C., Sarah F., Sarah M., Shannon and Texana.