It was May 15th and applications were due at 6:00pm sharp. After staying up all night taking pictures and dancing around in my living room, I still did not know if I was going to be able to follow through. As 5:00pm quickly approached my nerves began to overtake me. I sat and stared at my completed application for 30 minutes. Was I really going to hit the submit button? Was I ready to embark on this journey to possibly become one of the First Ladies of Football? This was my childhood dream and I finally had the opportunity to go for it. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and pressed down on my keypad. There was no turning back now.
Typically with auditions you perform in front of a panel of judges with other contestants, leave the judges to deliberate, and find out if you made it [to the next round] the same day. However, virtual auditions were a completely different arrangement. The first couple of rounds were all submission based. Once materials were turned in online for a specific round, contestants would typically have to wait a day or two to hear back about results. Since I had nothing but time to wait and hear back about my results, I used it as an opportunity to get better. During this period I would rewatch my video submissions over and over and over again. I became my biggest critic! Virtual auditions provided me with a new opportunity no other audition process had before. I could truly reflect on my performance and progress throughout the entire affair. Instead of performing on the spot with nothing to look back on, I could replay everything I was doing on my phone. I became more conscious of my lines while dancing, my facial expressions, my energy, etc.. Every time I re-watched a video I picked up on something I could do better the next time (if I had the opportunity to make it to the next round). This seemed to work out in my favor, before I knew it I was preparing for my first live component of virtual auditions during the Semifinal Round.
The Semi-final round was the first time this virtual audition process included Zoom. Talk about the most nerve wrecking zoom call of my life! Although I was not in the studio dancing next to the other contestants it still felt very real seeing them in their designated blocks on my computer screen. We were learning multiple routines from our computers. We were performing for one another. We were receiving feedback from judges and former cheerleaders. It was virtual but it was still business as usual. The only time our cameras were turned off was during breaks and then we were right back dancing. Further, auditioning via Zoom presented another level of intensity with its "Recording" feature. I knew the judges could see every single thing I was doing during the call but could also go back and watch it again. This made me extra attentive and focused. I wanted to make sure that when they reviewed those Zoom calls I would be proud of what I was doing and how I looked.
The entire virtual audition process happened over two weeks. I survived by taking everything day by day. I focused on the dances we were learning that day, the pictures that needed to be submitted by close of business, the interviews that needed to be scheduled and most importantly the emails going out to see if I made it to the next round. I was always in the moment. Then one day I looked up and realized I was a Finalist. On May 19th I was entering my first Finalist rehearsal. I was learning so much at such a fast rate but I loved every second of it. Nothing compared to learning and attempting my very first kickline routine and sideline. I was now dancing in [virtual] groups with 5 year veterans, pro-bowl cheerleaders, and former captains. I could not believe I had access to these Zoom call links! Everyday before Finalists rehearsals I would do my hair, put on makeup, throw on my outfit for the night and pray I performed to the best of my ability. I would log into my Zoom call at 6:30pm expecting to be better than I was the last day and log out at 10:30pm just hoping I had the opportunity to join this team when it was all said and done. Rehearsals flew by and before I knew it, we were on our last call before the Final Audition on Facebook Live. I was at the finish line and overwhelmed with every emotion in the book. The time was finally here.
Wait…THAT'S MY NUMBER
Friday May 29, 2020 will be a day I remember for the rest of my life. I barely got any sleep that night. All I could think about was becoming one of the First Ladies of Football. I prayed, prayed, and prayed again that #10 would be called when it was all said and done. I thought about every detail of the audition process and how I performed. I was so proud of myself for making this far. I was just contemplating not submitting my application two weeks ago! I wanted to be 1 of the 36 girls that made the team so bad. I dreamed of being announced as a 1st Lady of Football. I aspired to be like the amazing veterans I met throughout my audition process who were the definition of poise, grace, and grit. I wanted to be able to say I was a part of this amazing sisterhood.
Once I logged into the Zoom call for Final auditions everything was a blur. I was in total shock and couldn't process just about anything going on. Luckily, I was able to pull myself together for my introduction but I was still in a state of overwhelming emotions. The moment that really got me was changing into my last audition outfit. If my number was called, and I was a First Lady of Football I would be able to perform at the end of the show with the team. Once I had my outfit on I sat on the ground and waited patiently. I wanted to dance in this outfit again. I had to be able to perform one last time. After a wonderful show the results were in. Numbers were finally being called. I could barely breathe. As each number was being called I started to get more and more scared I wouldn't make the team. The new team was filling the screen and I was not a part of it. A wave of sadness came through me and I hung my head down and whispered to myself "maybe not this year Demi". And as soon as I finished that statement I heard "number 10 Demi" and I saw my computer messaging to me that the host wanted me to "share my screen". I quickly hit "join", stood up, and cried on the spot. I tried to hold it in but I couldn't. I was one of the First Ladies of Football! The process was hard and I am not ashamed to say I struggled. But I wouldn't have changed anything if I did it all over again.
1st Lady of Football,