Richardson, Sjostedt spread cheer for Patriots

Richardson, Sjostedt spread cheer for Patriots

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

The rookie and veteran are ready to show off their red, white and blue spirits as New England Patriots cheerleaders. They get ready to spend their Sundays in Foxboro, on the sidelines of Gillette Stadium, cheering Mac Jones and his company in front of a sold-out crowd of 65,878 people.

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

“It feels great,” says Sjostedt, 24. “It’s an indescribable feeling to know that I’ve been dancing and working hard all my life. It’s really worth it.”

Just when she thought she was out, the Pats Richardson, a resident of Tyngsboro, moved back in. She will be part of the team’s inaugural Alumni All-Star squad. Richardson, an elite group of four veteran cheerleaders, will assist the team throughout the season, from personal appearances and participating in match day activities to serving as a deputy.

“It’s crazy,” said Richardson, entering its 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 selected people. I am so thankful and can’t wait to be back with the cheerleading squad. It’s so exciting.”

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

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

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

“Walking on that field is so cool,” said Sjostedt. “I danced at football matches in college, but this is very different. Just being on the sidelines of the NFL and all the time in front of the fans was so cool. I am so looking forward to the home opener.”

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

Raised in Tyngsboro, Richardson attended Tyngsboro High and graduated in 2014. She was a fixture at the local dance studio.

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

She continued to keep up with the collegiate ranks, performing as part of the Bryant University Dance Team for four years, before graduating in 2018.

She turned her attention to both the Patriots cheerleaders and the Boston Celtic Dance Team, but found herself going to the roster more than the prosecutor’s office.

“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. She made the team in 2019 and played a key role in the pre-game ceremony and the Super Bowl banner that revealed her rookie year.

“That was insane,” Richardson said. “We came out in these glowing costumes, walked onto the pitch, the stadium was packed. I think I went home deaf after that game; everyone was screaming. That was my first game ever. 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,” said Richardson. “That was crazy, it was so different, but it gave me a better appreciation for our program, to be there at such a shocking time for the world.”

Raised in Tewksbury, Sjostedt attended Tewksbury High and graduated in 2016. Although she played youth softball during her youth, the energetic youngster got more into dancing.

“My parents wanted me to exercise when I was little, but when I was three, I begged my mother to dance,” Sjostedt said. “I’m not sure what it was, but I loved that you could be creative. There is so much more to dancing than your technique, a lot of it is mental as well. You have to prepare for every performance.”

She attended college in Towson, Maryland, and continued to hone her skills on the Towson University Dance Team for four years, winning a Division 1 title at NDA Nationals before graduating in 2020.

When she got home from college, she took a year off to teach dance at her local studio before setting her sights on Gillette Stadium.

“I’ve always followed the Patriot cheerleaders on Instagram and Facebook,” she said. “I 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 contenders in virtual auditions that started in January and ended with an intense boot camp in April.

“Honestly, I wasn’t super stressed out,” Sjostedt said. “I was more like, no matter what. I worked very hard, but kept looking at it day by day, further and further. I think I was in the right space for it. That was a big factor.”

Both cheerleaders have tremendous respect for each other.

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

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

They are scheduled to fly to Aruba next week to capture their annual Patriots cheerleader calendar, while also planning for the team’s international trek to Düsseldorf, Germany, later this season, not to mention the home opener of the Patriots against the Baltimore Ravens on September. 25.

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

“We’re really looking forward to that,” says Sjostedt. “The home opener should be great.”

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