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Cheerleader happy Broncos season has Super ending

January 15, 2014
By Tony Phifer

CSU senior dance major Angela Wood is having the time of her life working as a Denver Broncos cheerleader.

Angela Wood is one of three Denver Broncos Cheerleaders who have studied at CSU.Not many people can say they have their dream job at the tender age of 21 -- and prior to graduating from college. Angela Wood is happy to say she’s beaten the odds.

“I’m having the time of my life,” she said.

Wood, you see, has a rather unique occupation. Each week she has a front-row seat – heck, she’s WAY closer than the front row – to watch Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in their quest to win a Super Bowl.

Wood, a senior dance major at Colorado State University, is a rookie for the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders. She earned her spot last spring after a week-long tryout process that began with more than 150 women hoping to earn one of the coveted spots on the 26-member squad.

“I’ve been dancing my whole life, but it’s always been a dream of mine to be a Broncos cheerleader,” Wood said. “My family has always been Broncos fans, and being part of the dance world, I always wanted to be one of these amazing women.”

Long journey

Wood started dancing at age 3, and began competing for her dance studio at age 10. She traveled to national competitions every year and danced while at Littleton’s Chatfield High School.

Coming to CSU was an easy decision – “My sister graduated from CSU (Michelle, Journalism and Technical Communication, ‘09),” she said. “My family is all about the Rams.” – where she immersed herself in dance classes. She was also part of CSU’s Golden Poms during her freshman and sophomore years before landing a spot on the Denver Mammoth dance team.

Committed to her passion

During that time she was focused on earning her degree in dance, specializing in ballet.

“Dance majors have to be extremely committed,” said Carol Roderick, a special assistant professor of dance at CSU. “It’s six hours a day of practice, including weekends. You can’t be late for class, and you can’t just decide to skip a class. Angela not only works very hard, she’s a very nice young lady and a pleasure to be around.”

When she turned 21 – the minimum age for a Broncos cheerleader – Wood focused her efforts on making the squad. Candidates not only have to demonstrate their dancing ability, they don business attire and answer questions in front of judging panels. And, yes, they are tested on their knowledge of the team and the game.

CSU senior Angela Wood, who calls ballet her dancing passion, is one of 26 women on the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders.Part of the team

Wood’s tryout caught the eye of team veteran Heather Hartman, who serves as a “line captain” for the squad.

“From the moment I saw her perform at auditions I knew she was going to make the team,” said Hartman, who has been a Broncos cheerleader for four years. “Angela’s one of those dancers you can’t take your eyes off when she’s performing. She really has an amazing energy about her.”

Wood said waiting to hear her name called at the end of the tryouts might have been the most difficult aspect of the process.

“Tryouts are very, very intense,” Wood said. “When they were announcing the names of the girls who made the squad, my name was toward the end and I was starting to get really nervous. When my name was called I just started crying. It was definitely one of the best days of my life.”

Much more than dancers

While the Broncos cheerleaders are known for complex dance routines and signature costumes, their primary function is community service. The squad makes appearances at 20 or more events per week throughout the year, serving as team ambassadors at fundraisers and other community-oriented events.

Her favorite event was the “Be Beautiful Be Yourself” fashion show in September – a major fundraising event for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. The cheerleaders escorted models with Down syndrome down the runway.

“It was a really cool experience,” she said. “I love children and getting the chance to connect with them. They’re all Broncos fans, too, so it really was awesome.”

Lots of driving, dancing

In addition to doing eight to 10 hours of team practices weekly, Wood attends two or three events – and that doesn’t include the actual cheering on game days. In all, she spends up to 20 hours per week on team commitments. The squad only cheers for home games, although they would be invited to the Super Bowl.

“Let’s just say I-25 is my second home,” she said, laughing.

After graduating in the spring, Wood hopes to return with the Broncos cheerleaders and coach a high school dance squad in the Denver area. Eventually she hopes to open her own dance studio.

Three Rams on squad

Let’s get a few things straight:

  1. No, she can’t get you tickets. She only gets two, and those go to her parents.
  2. No, she can’t get you Manning’s autograph – or anyone else’s for that matter. The players and cheerleaders are rarely in the same room at the same time. Wood said she’s been to just one event where players were present, and Manning was not among them.
  3. No, she doesn’t have any amazing stories to tell about what she’s seen on the field. The squad concentrates on dance routines and getting fans involved. “We get to watch the game a little bit, but mostly I stay focused on what I have to do next,” she said.

Despite the challenge of balancing her studies and holding a high-profile job 65 miles from Fort Collins, Wood wouldn’t change a thing. Two other squad members – Patricia Reimann (Apparel and Merchandizing, ’12) and Lauren Hanna (Communications Studies, ’11) – are CSU graduates, and their presence helped her feel welcome.

“All of the girls are extremely nice and very supportive,” she said.

Unique honor

Roderick said Wood is her first student to become a Broncos cheerleader. Even though it’s not a traditional career path for ballet students, she fully supports Wood.

“When prospective students come to look at CSU as an option, one of the first questions they ask is whether our alumni are working professionally,” she said. “Everyone like Angela who goes out into the professional realm is a real feather in our cap. She’s a special girl, and she’s a good representative of our program.”

Enjoying the ride

With the Broncos so close to their goal, Wood admits she has been dreaming about cheering at the Super Bowl – even though the game will be played in New Jersey in the dead of winter.

“I can’t even imagine how amazing that would be – especially in my first year,” she said. “It’s already been such an incredible season, and that would make it even better. I might freeze out there, but it would be totally worth it.”