Jesse Beals  /  Icon SMI file
Between the grueling practices and the obsessive fans, not everyone has pom-pom potential, Forbes' Lacey Rose recently found out.
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updated 2/3/2006 1:37:44 PM ET 2006-02-03T18:37:44

“I hate to tell you, but this isn’t even the worst part,” warns Carly, a first-year Sea Gal and, in my case, the bearer of bad news. I had been sweating my way through laps and lunges when the slender brunette tipped me off to the dreaded squats that were still ahead.

The Sea Gals’ cheerleading practice had just begun, and already my muscles were feeling the burn. The good news (for me, anyway) was that my participation stopped with warm-ups. For the remaining two-plus hours of the practice, I sat bundled on the sidelines as the Sea Gal squad perfected every kick, split and pom-pom thrust in some 30 routines.

Anticipating my soreness to come, I watched enviously as their toned bodies tirelessly rehearsed one dance routine after the next, peeling off layers of Sea Gal-sequined clothing in the process. Each time with legs higher, splits lower and smiles bigger. And to think, this was considered an easy practice.

To tell you I had expected this level of physical prowess when I signed up to write this story would be a blatant lie.

My assignment: Spend the weekend in Seattle for a behind the pom-poms look at life as a Seattle Seahawks cheerleader, better known as a Sea Gal. And what better way to do so than to throw myself into a practice (a seemingly good idea while seated comfortably at my Manhattan desk), attend a pep rally and stand field-side with the Sea Gals during the NFC Championship game on Jan. 22.

Moments after I boarded my Seattle-bound plane, I began to realize that the Sea Gals were much more than mere pom-pom shakers. The 27 squad members are bona fide celebrities — OK, minor ones and mostly in Seattle. Indeed, the police officer seated beside me, Denis O’Donnell, knew their names and backgrounds and even 'fessed up before our plane took off to joining a Sea Gal fan club.

It took only a day, and a Seahawks' sponsored happy hour, to realize that his interest — or infatuation — was not unique.

The fan-friendly happy hour held at F.X. McRory’s, a restaurant conveniently located across the street from Qwest Field, was the first event on my agenda, but the fourth appearance of the day for some intrepid Sea Gals. With limited space to perform, the squad members stuck to pom-pom shaking as the beat of the Seahawks' team band, Blue Thunder, revved up fans for an evening of beer, buffalo wings and Seahawks trivia.

During the two-hour appearance, the Sea Gals made their way between the crowded tables, abstaining from the wings and beer (food appeared to be off-limits for the spandex-clad beauties), mingling with the fans, posing for pictures and answering questions (mostly “How often do you practice?” or “Is this your full-time job?”).

I’ll admit, none of it seemed worth it to me: the grueling practices, the stringent rules (see: “Behind The Pom-Poms”) or the pseudo-stalker fans. That is, until I stepped foot onto Qwest Field for the NFC Championship game.

Actually, the rush set in a few minutes before as a nervous energy — mixed with sheer excitement — took over the Sea Gals’ locker room. With tubes of lipstick and hairspray making their final rounds around the room, longtime director Sherri Thompson gathered the squad. “This will be the most exciting game you cheer in,” she exhorted. “So enjoy it!”

We stormed out onto the field, only to be met by a deafening roar from some 67,000 fervent fans. That alone was enough to leave me weak-kneed. And the game hadn’t even begun.

With towels twirling and fans cheering madly, the Sea Gals proved their knee-high boots were made for dancing as they kicked off the Championship game with a center field routine. And their timing-appropriate, sophisticated dance moves — along with the nearly perfect Seahawks’ play — fueled the crowd’s enthusiasm for the remainder of the game.

Broken into four smaller squads, the Sea Gals left their posts at the corners of the end zones only to perform full-group numbers between quarters. I made my way from one squad to the next, catching a glimpse of the game whenever I could. Between plays, the Gals danced vibrantly enough to keep their minimally clothed bodies warm in the 45-degree chill.

“You picked the right game to come to,” Thompson said during the fourth quarter as we swiftly walked the field’s perimeter, slowing only to slap five with spirited fans along the way. And by the time the fourth quarter came to an end, I found myself riding the reverberating waves of "Super Bowl! Super Bowl!" as the Sea Gals kept the energy high.

But none of it rivaled the electricity at Qwest Field when the final whistle blew. Seattle had won a trip to Super Bowl XL by a 20-point margin. With Seahawks-colored confetti falling like Seattle’s famed rain, I shouted wildly with joy. And to think, I was a Jets fan before the weekend began.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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