The Falcons are looking for ‘Wow Women’ for the 2018 cheerleading squad

Chato Hendrix, director of cheerleading for the Atlanta Falcons, will lead her 21st tryout for the team, beginning with the preliminary rounds on Sunday at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

“We’ve always tried to promote ladies as role models, but this year we’re going to use ‘Wow Women’ to empower our entire team to inspire on and off the field.”

Hendrix is ​​a high school guidance counselor and her assistant, Jakene Ashford, is a chemist. They have worked together for the past 17 seasons building the team. They expect close to 300 women to try out for the 2018 team. Click here for audition information.

“Our oldest cheerleader (last season) was 38 years old,” Hendrix said. “Our youngest made the team at 19 years old. So, it varies as long as they’re 18 by June, they can make the team. There is no limit as to the maximum age.

“But the ladies who are outgoing when it comes to their career, we have the whole spectrum, from ladies who are in school and starting the process of working towards a career, to businesswomen, to ladies who are well into their careers as a CPA or whatever.

“We also promote that mom stays at home. We have a couple of ladies that were full-time moms that were on the team.”

After the preliminary round on Sunday, the advancing cheerleaders are interviewed and undergo a social media assessment.

“On that first day, it’s more about whether they’re physically fit and whether they have talent,” Hendrix said. “Do they have showmanship? Are they performing at a level that our fans would want to see them perform? After that, we go deeper by interviewing them and getting to know who they are. We ask them a lot of questions and look at their social media because we believe that social media is their way of promoting their brand. So we look at how they promote themselves to see if it’s in line with what we stand for and that’s being classy.”

The final team will have between 30 to 36 members. Hendrix wants professional women to know that the cheerleading squad can fit around their schedules.

“If you cheered and danced in high school or college, this is the next round for you,” Hendrix said. “But now I am a lawyer. Or now I’m an engineer and that doesn’t fit. It really does and it will.”

He noted that the schedule is structured and the team’s expectations are clear, with practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“You have all 10 home games and then if there is a game away from the country or the Super Bowl, you have to add it to the list,” Hendrix said. “The ladies make hundreds of appearances throughout the year. That’s the whole team and you can actually select your time of appearance. You make it work around your work schedule.”

A bit of background cheer and/or dancing is helpful.

“We really want to push that former cheerleader and dancer who still loves to dance and still wants to perform,” Hendrix said. “This is their platform and the added bonus is that they also serve as ambassadors in the community.”

D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the Atlanta Falcons’ award-winning staff writer for the newspaper, having been on staff since 2003. Every day, D. Orlando strives to bring inside information to the Falcons and NFL. He finds the greatest joy in providing information on the team, coach moves, offseason trade moves, draft and games.

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