Richardson, Sjostedt cheered for the Patriots

Richardson, Sjostedt cheered for the Patriots

For Kasey Sjostedt and Dana Richardson, cheerleading is more than just a job, it’s their patriotic duty.

Both the rookie and the veteran are ready to show their red, white and blue spirit as New England Patriots cheerleaders. They prepare to spend their Sundays in Foxboro, outside Gillette Stadium, cheering on Mac Jones and company in front of a crowd of 65,878.

It will be a brand new game for Tewksbury-born Sjostedt, one of 11 signings this season.

“It’s amazing,” said Sjostedt, 24. “It’s an indescribable feeling knowing that I’ve been dancing and working hard all my life. It’s really rewarding.”

Just when she thought she was out, the Pats brought in Tyngsboro native Richardson. She will be part of the team’s first all-star alumni team. An elite group of four veteran cheerleaders, Richardson will help the team throughout the season, from personal appearances and participation in game day activities, to the backup role.

“It’s crazy,” said Richardson, entering his fourth season. “Last year I decided to retire, but they started this new program and asked me to come back. I was so shocked and very honored to be one of the people selected. I’m so grateful and can’t wait to be back with the cheerleaders. It’s very exciting.”

Patriots cheerleaders are responsible for entertaining and motivating fans and generating excitement in the crowd, while serving as goodwill ambassadors. The 35-member team consists of 32 women and three men. They perform at all Patriots home games, including postseason games, as well as all road playoff games.

“The group of rookies I’m with is amazing,” Sjostedt said. “We seem to click so well, and I’m grateful to be part of this group.”

Sjostedt has previously played in the team’s exhibition games against the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers.

“Walking on this pitch is so cool,” Sjostedt said. “I danced at college football games, but this is completely different. Just being on the sidelines in the NFL and in front of the fans all the time was so cool. I can’t wait so much in the home opener.

“The regular season opener is so different from the preseason,” Richardson said. “The stands are all full and as a rookie it’s something you will cherish forever. You will never forget it.

Raised in Tyngsboro, Richardson attended Tyngsboro High, graduating in 2014. She was a staple at the local dance studio.

“My neighbor was the owner and I’ve been dancing there since I was two,” Richardson said.

She continued to keep pace in the college ranks, performing on the Bryant University dance team for four years, before graduating in 2018.

She turned her attention to the Patriots cheerleaders and Boston’s Celtic dance team, only to find herself drawn more to the grill than the hardwood floor.

“It was more the style I did in college,” Richardson said. “I just loved it, and it was so much fun. I saw it more as a great opportunity to dance and also be an ambassador for them.

She passed her audition thanks to her years of extensive dance training. Making the team in 2019, she played a key role in the pre-game ceremony and the Super Bowl banner unveiling her rookie year.

“It was crazy,” Richardson said. “We walked out in these bright suits, walking onto the pitch, the stadium was packed. I think I went home deaf after that game; everyone was screaming. It was my very first game. I couldn’t believe it.

Richardson suffered culture shock a few seasons later when the pandemic forced her and her team to perform in an empty stadium.

“There were no fans,” Richardson said. “It was crazy, it was so different, but it made me appreciate our program better, to be allowed to be there during such a shocking time for the world.”

Raised in Tewksbury, Sjostedt attended Tewksbury High School and graduated in 2016. Although she played youth softball growing up, the energetic youngster had more fun dancing.

“My parents wanted me to play sports when I was little, but when I was three years old, I begged my mother to dance,” Sjostedt said. “I don’t know what it was, but I loved that you could be creative. There’s so much more to dancing than your technique, it’s also a lot of it mental. You have to prepare for it. each performance.

A student at the University of Towson, Maryland, she continued to hone her skills on the Towson University dance team for four years, winning a Division 1 title at the NDA Nationals before graduate in 2020.

Back from college, she took a year off to teach dance at her local studio before settling on Gillette Stadium.

“I’ve always followed Patriot Cheerleaders on Instagram and Facebook,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be one since I was little, so I felt this year was the right time for me.”

Sjostedt competed against 200 other prospects in virtual auditions that began in January and ended with an intense training camp in April.

“Honestly, I wasn’t super stressed,” Sjostedt said. “I was pretty much, whatever happens, happens. I worked really hard, but I just kept taking it day by day, going further and further. I think I was in the good headspace for that. That was a huge factor.

The two cheerleaders have enormous respect for each other.

“Dana is super nice,” Sjostedt said. “She is super motivating and really seems to want to help everyone and lift them up. She will be a great teammate to have. »

“Kasey is extremely talented,” Richardson said. “She’s got great technique, a great personality, and she’s going to be a great ambassador. I can’t wait to see her journey.

They’re due to fly to Aruba next week to shoot their annual Patriots cheerleading schedule, while also planning the team’s international trip to Dusseldorf, Germany later this season, not to mention the hometown game. Patriots home opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 1. 25.

“I can’t wait to see the fans,” Richardson said. “It’s always my favorite part of game days, seeing how excited they are to be there to watch the Pats play. It’s an energy you’ve never felt before.”

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Sjostedt said. “The home opener should be amazing.”

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