Hey Redskins Nation!
My name is Arabia, and I am so excited to start my Rookie year as a First Lady of Football. My journey to becoming a Washington Redskins Cheerleader has been one that could be described as both arduous and rewarding. Starting my journey in the WRC Training Program opened my eyes to what could possibly be a dream come true for me. While in the Training Program I was able to learn so much about not only the team, but their unique dance and cheer style, as well as the team's culture. I knew then that there was nothing I wanted more than to become a First Lady of Football. Soon after finishing the Training Program, I enrolled in several Prep Classes in order to prepare for auditions which were rapidly approaching! Prep classes gave me the opportunity to dance in the same environment as the Veterans, and to learn as much as I could from the advice that all the 'Vets', Director Stephanie, and Co-Director Jamilla were giving.
Open call auditions took place on Saturday, April 7th , 2018. I showed up with three "everything" dance bags, a full-length mirror, lunch, snacks and lots of excitement and ambition for the day's forthcoming activities. Day 1 of Auditions was a dream come true. During round one I introduced myself to our panel of distinguished judges. When it was my turn I stepped forward and spoke loud and proud; "Good Morning judges, my name is Arabia and I am from Washington DC. Outside of dance I am a full time middle school teacher and I teach 5th thru 8th grade dance. I also teach 7th grade reading and math and I coach our school's dance team. You're probably wondering how I got my name. Well, my mom took a chance and span the globe; and landed on Saudi Arabia. So... you, should take a chance on me!" After my introduction, music started to play through the loudspeakers and we began to freestyle. It was so much fun, I enjoyed every second of it!
When I moved on to round two we learned some dance choreography we would perform for Redskins Season Ticket holders. While we learned the routine pretty fast, I was ready to perform and entertain the Redskins fans and judges. During this round, fans were able to ask us all sorts of questions. Some of us were asked Redskins history questions and NFL aligned questions. When it was my turn I was fully prepared to answer any Redskins question because I had studied so much prior to round two. To my surprise, my question was "What three words would you use to describe yourself?" I smiled and said, "I am bubbly, sassy and talented. Thank you!" After questions, we performed our audition routine and an awesome kick line routine. I lived in that moment and left everything on the stage. I was so happy to learn that I was invited back to Semi-Finals.
Semi-Finals took place on Sunday, April 8th, 2018. On this day, the veterans returned to claim their spots! For most, this was super intimidating. I won't lie I was starstruck by the veterans. They came in so poised, confident, beautiful and determined. The thoughts that ran through my mind were, "wow, they look good! I want to be a part of this legacy!" We learned a new sideline routine and performed it for the judges. Next, the judges deliberated and chose sixty-four lucky women to move onto Finals! Entering the dance studio to learn the Finals routines was a dream come true for me! I had worked so hard to make it that far and I was ready to take on the next challenge.
Preparing for Finals was a week-long process. I had the opportunity to dance everyday with my potential sisters! We got split into groups of four and were given a dance to perfect and perform for the Final showcase at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland. I was in a group with the beautiful WRC Javai, WRC Alum Crysten and Rookie Hopeful Melissa and we were given a lyrical routine! We practiced together every day and for hours! It was great to learn from Javai and Crysten. I was so happy to experience Finals week alongside Rookie Hopeful Melissa. We learned how to dance cohesively. We figured out ways to allow each of us shine in our own ways; despite our dance or cheer backgrounds. I felt so blessed to be grouped with such positive, talented and uplifting women. To us it wasn't just a competition but also an opportunity to get on stage and do what we love!
The Final show took place on Sunday, April 15, 2018 at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland. Our call time was at 11:30 am and it was pouring down raining outside. Despite the bad weather all sixty-four contestants showed up to show out! Everyone's hair and make-up was on "Fleek" and we were all so excited for what would take place in just a few short hours. I had the opportunity to take the stage four times: The opening routine, our sideline routine, our lyrical routine and the famous swimsuit walk! Each time I stepped foot on stage I made the conscious decision to "Dance for my life" as Ms. Vihky would say to us each night during practices. In those moments on stage I felt so fulfilled and determined that I honestly don't remember performing. I left everything on the stage and made sure the judges and fans saw my personality and potential with every move that I made. When all of the performances were done we all headed back to the dressing room and waited for the big announcement: 2018-2019 Washington Redskins Cheerleaders! As I waited with my dance sisters I held on tight to Rookie Hopeful Erica and Nikki. I was so nervous; my heart was racing and so was my mind. I heard director Stephanie say: "#28"! I was so happy and excited I ran to get my shirt and screamed, "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!" My dream had just come true along with about thirty others.
Soon after, the announcement was to be made to the audience! I could not wait to walk out on stage and show my family and friends that I made it! Have you ever felt so happy that all you can do is smile and stare into the distance? Well, that's how I felt in that very moment. Hearing my number called on stage and hearing the cheers and celebration from the crowd and my new sisters was everything I had ever dreamt of. I knew then that I wanted that moment for life. I was then and am still so grateful to be a Rookie and to be a part of such a grand legacy, the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders!
The next day, we got down to business. Literally! On Monday, we had our first team meeting! I could not believe that I would be returning to FedEx Field, but, this time as a Cheerleader! It was "official, like a referee with a whistle!" Signing my contract made me just as happy as I was when I heard my number called the day before. Receiving my poms and practice uniforms was the icing on a well-deserved cake! Monday was the start of Rookie week! We returned on Tuesday for the official first day of Rookie rehearsals! Yep, us Rookies had been going non-stop since April 7th! For me, since September with the training program, and, I couldn't be any happier. We learned the traditional WRC dances "Rock" and "HAIL". Can you imagine how honored I felt to learn these iconic dances that have been performed by Washington Redskins Cheerleaders for more than twenty years. All I can say is, "Blessings on blessings on blessings!"
So far, this has been such an amazing ride and I am so happy to be experiencing it with some of my closest friends. Remember Rookie Hopefuls Melissa and Erica? Well, they're now my new Rookie sisters along with five other amazingly talented and beautiful women. I'm excited to be a Rookie with my best friend Lizbeth who has literally experienced every single dance and cheer moment with me dating back to 2016; can you say match made in heaven? It's only been five days since I've officially been named a Washington Redskins Cheerleader and I already feel like I've gained so much! New sisters, new coaches, new uniforms, new poms and a heart filled with pure joy.
I am beyond grateful, humble and blessed to have accomplished this dream on my very first time auditioning! Thank you so much judges and Redskins fans for "taking a chance on me". The journey to "Being First" is a journey I will never, ever, forget!