FOXBORO, Mass. â€” Pawtucketâ€™s Kelsey Fournier will return for her third and final year as a New England Patriots cheerleader, and her second as one of the squadâ€™s co-captains.
â€śKelsey has been an amazing cheerleader for the Patriots,â€ť head coach Tracy Sormanti admitted. â€śShe is a great performer and a talented dancer. Kelsey is a role model for the squad, someone who is always prepared and professional. She is very enthusiastic. When Kelsey goes out into the community as a representative of the New England Patriots, people are always calling and asking us to send her out again the next time we do something in their town.â€ť
Fournier, who is completing her third year at Rhode Island College, takes her duties as a co-captain very seriously.
â€śThe line captains must set a good example for the other cheerleaders,â€ť said the 2007 St. Raphael Academy graduate. â€śAmong our duties are holding dance rehearsals and assisting the coach in running practices. There are two different lines of cheerleaders on game days and each line has two captains. I know during my first year as a cheerleader, it was very comforting to have a line captain who could guide me.â€ť
Fournier and her teammates endured five weeks of tryouts that began with 320 candidates.
â€śIt gets harder every year,â€ť she said. â€śEach year, we set our expectations higher. I want to live up to a certain level of performance. Having been on the team for two years, I know how much it means to me to be a Patriots cheerleader. I definitely wanted to make the team one more time.â€ť
The squad has a three-year term limit for its cheerleaders, Sormanti pointed out.
â€śWe limit our cheerleaders to three years for a variety of reasons,â€ť the coach said. â€śThe limit gives more women in the region a chance to participate on the team. I think the fans also like to see fresh faces. And even though cheerleading is considered a part-time job, it takes up a lot of time each week. Most of our cheerleaders are college students or hold full or part-time jobs.
â€śI think after three years, the girls are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives,â€ť Sormanti added.
The four cheerleading co-captains are key figures for the squad on game days, similar in their roles to the co-captains football coach Bill Belichick designates for his team.
â€śOur captains must show strong leadership,â€ť Sormanti said. â€śOne of their duties is to guide the lines. They can also assist the coach in running practices. They can teach advanced dance techniques. They also use their motivational skills to lead the squad.â€ť