For a brief moment—only four counts of eight—all eyes would be on Isabella Tropeano, LSOE ’18. The judges had seen plenty of women before her. To be impressed, Tropeano would have to do something different, dancing to a song she would not know until the first beat hit her ears.
But for Tropeano, four counts of eight, however short, would be enough. She would have more to prove over the arduous auditions and callback process, but Tropeano eventually earned her spot on the New England Patriots Cheerleading Squad.
Tropeano began her love affair with dance at an early age. More than just for pleasure, Tropeano’s hobby evolved to include competition performances with a team. After completing high school, during which she took a break from dance, she joined the pom squad at Boston College. Pom, a varsity sport at BC that incorporates dance, cheerleading moves, and pom-poms without the stunt work or tumbling of the cheerleading squad, has 13 members and requires intensive tryouts, usually over two days. The team spends most of its time at events like football and basketball games, cheering and dancing on the sidelines. Though there was a learning curve—the dance that Tropeano learned over her early years is different from the more regimented movements used by the pom squad—Tropeano found that it was something she was interested enough in to take to the next level.
Getting to that level, however, required a strenuous audition process. The ensemble of 450 dancers was whittled down to 100 after a series of freestyle dances, with no preparation or knowledge of the song beforehand. As dancers were removed from the audition, those who remained learned a choreographed dance, reducing the original total by 350. Those 100 then participated in a beauty pageant-type round, in which they did the typical swimsuit and cocktail-wear modeling on top of more choreographed dances and solo performances. By the end of the competition, 40 dancers continued on to the final round of the six-week boot camp.
“Boot camp is just like everything you can imagine and pushed you mentally and physically to the brink,” Tropeano said.
On top of the standard dances that the contestants had gotten used to, they also had to memorize facts and figures on the history and current events related to the New England Patriots for tests and attend daily workouts. At the end of the process, Tropeano received the news that she had been chosen. The tough regimen over the month and a half will serve Tropeano well, however, as she will have to attend two three-hour rehearsals a week during the season before gamedays, in addition to the workload of being a college student.
As an applied psychology and human development major and a biology minor through the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Tropeano is keeping busy on campus. Her academic interests have encouraged her to entertain the idea of attending medical school after graduation, though she still has time to decide. Her schoolwork serves her well in her extracurricular activities, as she has volunteered at the Campus School since she arrived on campus. Tropeano has tried to expand that experience by getting her fellow pom squad members involved in community service.
But the position isn’t all work and no play for Tropeano. While technically her job is all-business, she will get to attend events for the Patriots, which range from press to birthday parties. As one of the biggest perks, Tropeano will travel with the cheerleading squad to Aruba for its swimsuit calendar photo shoot.
To get to the next level, though, Tropeano will have to sacrifice participating in the pom squad in her senior year. As a varsity sport, her payment for dancing and cheering as a part of the Patriots organization makes her a professional, and therefore ineligible—not to mention the time conflict and overwhelming responsibility of dancing for two teams at once. And while it was rewarding for Tropeano to dance on the sidelines of Alumni Stadium, it will be a whole other ball game to perform at Gillette.
Featured Image by Gregory Payan / AP Photo