Drexel hasn’t had a football team in decades, but that didn’t stop twin sisters Sage and Gabriella Cifaloglio from trying out for and making the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleading Squad. Though Sage, a junior business administration major, had made the squad last year, this marked the first time for Gabriella, a senior design and merchandising major.
The sisters, who are both in the Phi Mu sorority and both used to be on the Drexel Dance Team, were among the 38 girls who were chosen, including 30 returning cheerleaders, to be part of this year’s roster on April 24. Sage, a veteran, still had to try out, but she did not have to attend the open-call audition like her sister and the hundreds of other “rookies.”
"Most people think that we're just automatically on the team every year, but veterans aren't guaranteed a spot at all,” Sage said.
During the semi-finals round, the prospective cheerleaders had to introduce themselves to an audience and a panel of judges, which included a select group of season ticket holders. The girls also had to perform a dance on stage in a group of three. Those who called the hotline number and made it to the finals had to participate ina “fitness” round, where they modeled a bathing suit, and then go through a different round of interview questions and perform a different dance.
Both girls had tried out for the 2012 squad, though Gabriella did not make it.
“I wasn't going to try out this year but Sage pushed me to do this,” said Gabriella.
The support of the veteran cheerleaders also contributed, as Sage said, “everyone who was on the team with me last year was really rooting for her, and I think it made her more nervous that we were watching but it was nice at the same time.”
Once the news came out that both sisters made the team, friends, family and even veteran cheerleaders called and texted their congratulations.
"I was excited, obviously, to make it back but I was more excited that she made it this year,” Sage said.
The 2013 Eagles cheerleaders received their poms and uniforms April 30 during the first meeting with the squad.
“It was great for the rookies, because we got to see what it was going to be like,” Gabriella said.
The first official event with the new squad will be on May 8, when the cheerleaders will shoot the photos for this year’s Eagles calendar in Cape May. The net proceeds will go to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
"The majority of Eagles fans are from the South Jersey area and they give so much to the Eagles, so much support and so much fan dedication. I think it's really great that the Eagles wanted to give back to the fans,” Sage said.
The veterans from last year spent the final day of the NFL Draft at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
"We got to see a different crowd and there were fans from different NFL teams as well as the Eagles,” she added.
Though she spent the first day of the draft at a party at the Lincoln Financial Field with a bunch of fans and was there when Eagles had their first pick, Sage was overwhelmed by the excitement at Radio City Music Hall.
"It's cool because you get to see it on TV and then it's huge when you get to see it in person. It's crazy,” she said.
Sage felt the same way her first game cheering for the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Stadium for the first time, she added.
"I remember the first game I had to do an appearance, before we went out for the first time to dance,” she said. “I have been an Eagles fan my whole life and I've watched tons of games but I'd never actually been to a game. So when I stepped on the field, it was like the craziest feeling.”
Gabriella went to Eagles games last year but sat in box seats, so she couldn’t really see her sister that well. This year, she’ll be right there with her cheering on the field.
Starting in June, they will have rehearsals Tuesdays and Wednesday nights and other additional types of obligations and appearances. On home game days, they have to be at the stadium four hours in advance, to spend a total of eight hours at Lincoln Financial Field.