Poms perform in Redskins’ halftime Spirit Explosion

Video courtesy Jackie Aronie

By Matt Mande

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Blaring music, screaming fans and HTTR posters are only to be expected at a Redskins game. Less typical is what fans saw on October 6. Twelve members of Whitman’s Poms team performed alongside professional Redskins’ cheerleaders as well as members from the Redskins’ All-Star and Junior cheerleading programs.

The performance was part of the Redskins’ annual Spirit Explosion halftime show at FedEx field.

The Redskins hold their Spirit Explosion event to support breast cancer awareness, and they invite junior cheer or Poms teams to participate in the performance.

“It was pretty amazing,” senior Jackie Aronie said. “The stadium fits 82,000 people, so it was really exciting to be there.”

The performers marched onto the field from the sideline, dressed in white shirts and black leggings, holding hot pink pom poms. Standing in five lines, they danced to a remix of Don Diablo and Jessie J’s “Brave.”

The performance involved various formation changes, including shifting between lines and circles, and combining into one large group at the end. The routine was generally simple due to the age range of performers: participants ranged from seven to 18 years old.

The day before the performance, Poms and the other participants rehearsed on a full-sized turf field for four hours at a Redskins training facility in Ashburn, Virgina. There, they split into five groups with one professional Redskins cheerleader responsible for teaching each group.

“They taught us a lot of stuff we didn’t know and gave a lot of tips for performing,” junior Chloe Eisenberg said. “It was really fun to dance with them.”

The team also practiced in a tunnel at the stadium right before the performance while they received some last-minute advice from the Redskins cheerleaders. 

The Poms secured their spot in the performance with help from their newest coaching addition, London Myrick. Myrick is a captain on the First Ladies of Football, the Redskins’ cheerleading team. 

“Inviting Poms to take place in this event was a way of bringing two of my worlds together,” Myrick said. 

The routine provided the team with experience performing in front of a surrounding audience, contrasting with their usual single-direction routines at school events, Myrick said.

The Poms’ previous head coach, Kendra Foster, left at the end of last year following her husband’s military relocation. Myrick took the spot of previous co-coach and now head coach Alexa Blanchard, and she has since split her time between working with Poms, the First Ladies and her job at the Department of Interior. 

“I feel like she brings a whole new level of focus and discipline to our team,” Aronie said. “I’m personally really grateful to have the opportunity to work with her.”

Myrick hopes for more Poms team members to perform in the Spirit Explosion event next year, a proposal which this years’ performers showed nothing but excitement for, Myrick said. She’s also considering extending the opportunity to Whitman’s cheer team.

“It was a fun experience really hard to replicate,” junior Lily Brady said. “I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

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