Newcastle Knights cheerleaders are a close-knit bunch.
“It’s like a sisterhood,” said Alex Tsambos, the Knights cheerleading team director.
“Twenty-five girls between 18 to 26 and they all get along. I think that’s a rarity.”
Alex said the younger female generation was very competitive.
“There’s a lot of comparison, imagery and insecurities in the social-media world. In our team, everyone builds each other up rather than tearing each other down. They’re so supportive of each other. I love that about them,” she said.
As team director, Alex admits that she’s “the disciplined one who lays down the law”.
She says to the cheerleaders: “You can have a whinge about me if I’m being too harsh, but never do it about each other”.
An audition for the 2019 Knights cheerleading team will be held on Monday.
“We look for more than just their dancing ability, it’s also based on professionalism and the ability to communicate,” Alex said.
She said cheerleaders weren’t just dancers, they were ambassadors for the club. They do charity and corporate work and engage with brands and fans. They do more than perform on game day.”
Kids look up to them.
“This year, we had our first junior clinic. We had 200 kids inquire, but we could only take 100. It was massive,” she said.
A permanent junior cheering squad is planned for games next season. As for the senior cheerleaders, many are university students seeking an outlet. Most of them danced when they were younger and had dads who loved rugby league.
Many girls attended games before they were cheerleaders.
“They dance, they love to be part of the game and they love Newcastle.”
Early this year, Formula One racing stopped using “grid girls” over concerns about “brand values and societal norms”, while “walk-on” girls were cut from professional darts tournaments in the UK over concerns about sexual harassment.
In 2017, the Canberra Raiders dropped cheerleaders from home games and instead invited local dance schools onto the field.
In 2013, the Bulldogs changed the role of their cheerleaders to ambassadors. They wore less revealing outfits.
And a decade ago, Russell Crowe replaced cheerleaders with “male and female” drummers. At the time, Russell said his then wife Danielle Spencer supported the move.
Alex said the Knights cheerleaders “get nothing but positive feedback”.
“Newcastle is so supportive,” she said.
“We’re getting past the stereotype. The girls serve more purpose than just shaking their poms on game day. They participate in the community and the kids love them. You never hear a fan say a bad word about them.
“The girls have earned that.”
The audition will be held at McDonald Jones Stadium at 6pm. For details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Sally Harper on 4028 9100.
Cricket and the Empire
Topics published on Friday a photo of the Newcastle showground in 1910. The image, taken by legendary photographer Ralph Snowball, showed schoolkids doing the maypole dance on Empire Day.
Reader Ross Howard responded, saying: “At 66, I’m one of the few who remembers Empire Day – we used to get an afternoon holiday from primary school”.
Back then Empire Day was also cracker night, Ross said.
Topics to Ross: “Ahh, cracker night. We remember that fondly. Although in our youth, it was held in June. We should bring back Empire Day to celebrate Wills and Kate and Harry and Megs! And Prince Charles and Camilla, of course!”
Ross: “Yes, cracker night moved from Empire Day to the Queen’s birthday long weekend when someone realised that there was no longer an empire. At least the empire gave us cricket!”
We wrote on Monday about a group of ducks with a habit of waddling into a barber shop at Wangi Wangi.
Reader Ross Iles said the photo reminded him of the famous ducks of the Peabody Memphis Hotel in Tennessee. The so-called “Peabody Ducks” regularly waddle into the hotel lobby and paddle in its fountain. Back in the 1930s, the hotel’s general manager and his mates had returned from a hunting trip. Drunk on whiskey, they put three ducks in the hotel fountain as a prank. The guests loved the ducks and a tradition began. Now, each day, ducks waddle down a red carpet to spend the day playing in the lobby fountain.They live in a $200,000 enclosure on the hotel roof, which has been dubbed the “duck penthouse”.