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Everybody Say Cheese!

Written by Nicole Bulcher

Training camp is over … now what?

So once training camp is over and the team has been chosen, you may be curious about what exactly happens. (Stay tuned for further articles on this topic).

First, we take the squad photo! We use a huge warehouse in Dallas where they make commercials, and it's cool to see how our production takes shape. The warehouse has a series of rooms we use: one for the makeup artists, one for the hair stylists, one for changing (it happens to also be a kitchen), and one for relaxing. The girls sprawl out on the couches and on the floor, some studying for their summer school finals and others playing Bananagrams. Mia is always the Bananagrams instigator! It became a squad ritual in Mexico when we shot the calendar last spring. And, it is so fun!

Back to the squad photo. It's crucial to wear loose fitting clothes on this day because, for example, creases on your stomach from a tight belt are not attractive after changing into the uniform. The rookies arrive first thing in the morning and report to hair and makeup before the vets show up in order of reverse seniority. Because it takes so much time to get all 34 of us through hair and makeup, it's a treat for the more senior vets to arrive later and sleep in. However, if you are there early you get fed breakfast and lunch! After everyone has gone through her initial hair and makeup appointment, each girl is touched up again after donning her uniform and before being herded into the studio.

Walking as a team in the uniform for the first time is something I'll never forget. Even though it's just through an empty production warehouse and not on the field, I feel a special affinity toward this little trek. Last year was amazing because it was when my rookie class was officially welcomed to the squad. This year was special because you could really feel the love and support we all had for each other (and still have!).

Judy and Kelli produce a sketch of where they want each girl in the photo before we arrive, so we all wait attentively to receive our spots. The "legs for days" girls: Sunni and Lauren got the standing positions on either side for very good reason. Check out Sunni's hamstrings – they rock! Cassie and Kaitlin are the dreamy, lounging girls hanging out right in front and they flank the resident hottie, Ashton.

After several experiments with poses and lots of attention from our hair and makeup detail, we get into the groove and crank out the shots. At the end, we always take a few photos with some of our sponsors who have been patiently waiting. Dr. Siegrist, Rainer, the CMT crew, and even Cassie's adorable brothers all got a chance to be in the middle of our squad photo.

This year, we wrapped the day with dinner at Pappasito's with our entire squad of 34 and Miss Judy. Having everyone come was a precursor to how close we would be as a team this year. The 2011-2012 cheerleaders may be half rookies, but we are good friends already. Squad photo is a great day to spend bonding with the new team and seeing how beautiful everyone is in their uniform after hair and makeup.


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