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3 Kirkland women return to Sea Gals squad, hopeful for Super Bowl win
With the inkling of a Super Bowl win this season, 34 women were chosen for the 2013 Sea Gals NFL cheerleading squad.
Sea Gals director Sherri Thompson narrowed down the 170 auditions to 62 semi-finalists before choosing the 34 positions during finals held on Sunday.
Kirkland resident Courtney will embark on her sixth year as a Seahawks NFL Cheerleader. Courtney was added to the group after Sunday’s finals wrapped up a month-long process.
“I am so excited for this year’s football team,” she said. “We played so well last year, and based on that, and everything that’s in store, I hope we will make it all the way to the Super Bowl.”
The California native has been dancing since she was 4 years old and has stretched her skills to tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary and ballroom.
After Courtney’s dancing ended at the University of California at Santa Barbara when she graduated, she decided to take a leap and tryout for the Sea Gals at 22 years old. She had one year to make it as a dancer, said her father. But she soon went on to win a spot on the team.
“The year I decided to audition, I came to Kirkland for Easter and stayed at the Woodmark Hotel,” Courtney said, adding that her mother was from Seattle. “I had never been to Kirkland before. But I went out for a walk with my cousin one day and thought ‘this is such a cute city.’ I felt like I could live here one day.”
After being chosen for the team, Kirkland was the first place she wanted to check out.
And when she saw an apartment complex with a “Seahawks blue, wall” she knew she had made the right choice.
Courtney has been in the Show Group, a smaller team within the Sea Gals, which has allowed her to travel all over the world and perform for the U.S. armed forces. She’s been to Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Hong Kong.
In addition, she’s made 300 appearances all over Washington and has helped with charities such as the Play 60 program. In her second year, her team voted her Sea Gal of the year.
“I was beyond surprised,” Courtney said. “It’s hard to pick one person because you think everyone is so deserving. I was so shocked and humbled.”
She looks forward to getting to know the new Sea Gals and is excited to extend the “sisterhood” of friendship that comes along with being on the team.
Although this Sea Gal completed her rookie year last year, she’s not new to dancing. Melissa, a Kirkland resident, was a cheerleader for the Oregon Blazers for eight years before she and her husband moved from Portland, Ore. to a 1950s house in Kirkland’s Market neighborhood a year-and-a-half ago.
“I adore Kirkland,” Melissa said, who enjoys Lake Washington and walking her dog at Heritage Park. “I’m originally from California and I missed being by the ocean [in Portland.] The lake is wonderful.”
Melissa, who was also in Show Group last year, said although she loved dancing for the NBA, she always knew she wanted to be an NFL cheerleader.
“Meeting new friends was one of the best things of the whole year. It also ended up just being this ridiculous season,” she said, adding that the Seahawks’ success, rebranding of the Sea Gals, the new swimsuit calendar and being invited to go to Hong Kong were among her favorite moments.
Melissa, a project manager for a local leadership consulting firm, said she is proud to be a part of the Sea Gal organization and is excited to get to know the seven to eight rookies this year. And of course, she is hopeful for a Super Bowl win.
“I think we’ll hopefully go to the Super Bowl, we have a really good chance,” Melissa said. “I’m looking forward to that, I have high hopes.”
After taking time off to finish school and have a little boy, Kirkland resident Natalie is ready to resume her life as a Sea Gal.
Three years ago, Natalie had finished three consecutive years as a Sea Gal. But now she’s ready to come back and dance, even though much has changed.
“I feel like a rookie again,” Natalie said. “They have so much to look forward to and a lot of stuff has changed. There’s no greater experience than your first year in dancing for the NFL.”
Natalie, who works as an esthetician at Oasis Spa and Salon, moved to Kirkland a few months ago from Federal Way and enjoys the Juanita area, where she is close to the beach. “I love it here,” she said. “It’s a really good community.”
Her passion for dancing stemmed from her mother who had a performing arts company in the back of her childhood home.
Natalie would dance from age 2-14, and begin gymnastics competitions at age 9 before switching to cheerleading in high school.
After cheering at Washington State University for awhile, her passion took her to try out for the Sea Gals at age 20.
During Natalie’s first three years she made Show Group and was able to travel and perform for U.S. troops to places such as Japan, Guam and Hawaii. Although she looks forward to making many more friends, nothing can beat the loud, energetic fans on Seahawks’ game days.
“It’s so exciting to be on the field,” Natalie said. “Now, our boys are great again. I think it’s going to be so much more fun.”