For the past 17 years, Sara Vrancik has dreamed of becoming an NFL cheerleader. This week, that dream became a reality.
Vrancikova, who graduated from IUP in 2017, learned Tuesday that she made the roster to cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles, her hometown team.
“I’m still on cloud nine!” she said Thursday by phone from her home in Philadelphia. “It’s absolutely a dream come true, yes.”
Much to her surprise, Vrancik was one of nine novice cheerleaders who made it to the 61 finalists. She survived four rigorous rounds of cuts to make the list of 37.
“It was definitely not expected,” she said. “It’s been crazy stressful since March, especially juggling my full-time job on top of that. The final was actually on Tuesday, so that’s when I found out. They announced the winners while we were sitting backstage, so I found out right then and there, and it was so surreal. I was in shock. I wasn’t moving and my friends said, ‘Go, go there (on stage).’
“When he said my name it was absolutely crazy. Apparently, I only started crying because all my hard work paid off. I’ve never stepped out of my comfort zone like that. It was a very different style of cheering. It’s more of a dance. It is a unique experience.”
She has been a cheerleader for four years while attending IUP, making a career out of cheerleading. Vrancik, 24, works as a sales representative for Varsity Spirit and designs custom cheer and dance apparel. Vrancik has been a cheerleader since age 7 and has been a staff member of the National Cheerleading Association (NCA) for the past seven years.
Despite her lifelong relationship with cheerleaders, she felt like something was missing from her life since graduating from IUP.
“I still do cheerleading, but I missed performing, just that aspect of it, instead of just being backstage,” she said. “I think the last time I really performed at IUP was for football and basketball games. I’ve performed at the camps I’ve worked at the past few summers, but I’ve only done one or two since then, so it hasn’t been as frequent as it used to be.
“So this winter I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ I have to put myself there. I can no longer live with my parents in the forest,” I moved to the city and signed up for workshops (in February) and now I’m here.”
And now she has come full circle.
“Another thing that’s fine with NCA is they’re owned by Varsity Spirit, so my full-time job is kind of related,” Vrancik said. “I grew up in the camps, then after high school I worked in the camps and wore clothes, and now I sell clothes. Cheerleading has just opened up so many opportunities for me that I could never have imagined and it has led me to where I am today.
“I’ve been around the country with NCA and the Eagles is my next step in my professional career as a cheerleader.”
While her role with the Eagles is essentially a part-time job, don’t mistake it for a part-time commitment.
“The Eagles are kind of a part-time gig,” she said. “It’s obviously cheering at matches, but we also go to performances and photo shoots. It’s definitely all year round.”