Montpelier: James Madison University Magazine

Something to Cheer About
Montpelier Winter 2000

They tear up the sidelines, stomping and kicking their heels, but they're not gridiron greats or enraged coaches arguing a call - they're Redskinettes, Washington Redskin cheerleaders, and two of them are JMU alumni. Katrina Gilmore ('94) and Debbie Barrigan Weitz ('92) both dance for the NFL's premier professional cheering squad, the Redskinettes. Although neither were JMU varsity cheerleaders, both women showed their school spirit in other ways. Weitz was the featured baton twirler for the Marching Royal Dukes, and Gilmore was a member of the JV cheerleading team.

As a Redskinette, Weitz has performed all over the world. She traveled to the Balkans, where she and 10 other members of the Redskinette Variety Show danced for U.S. troops. Also in 1999, the group opened for a Ricky Martin concert and did a swimsuit calendar shoot in Mexico. "Professional cheerleading is very different from the collegiate variety, which consists mainly of stunts and gymnastics," says Weitz, a three-year Redskinette veteran. "We're more devoted to dancing."

Competing against 300 young women, Weitz and Gilmore tried out in the annual Redskinette competition in April. Veteran members are also asked to return and try-out during three days of intensive dance routines, kick routines and interviews. Practices start immediately, and the team rehearses three nights a week during the summer. Redskin-ettes perform in pre-game and halftime shows and in time-outs. And, it's a volunteer job. Redskinettes support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children's Charities, the Mikel Foundation, and are only paid for a few guest appearances throughout the year.

Story by Karen Boxley ('01)

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