Like most Philadelphians, Marissa Hill, a communication junior at Drexel University, cheered on the Eagles during every step of their road to victory this year. Growing up in the suburbs outside the city, she’s been an Eagles fan her whole life — her family has been season ticket holders since the ’70s — so the team’s historic Super Bowl win really meant a lot to her.
Especially because she’s an Eagles cheerleader.
“The day of the Super Bowl was definitely the best day of my life,” said Hill. “Cheering on the field for a team that I am so passionate about was one of my biggest dreams that has come true. On top of that, being a part of the Eagles winning the Super Bowl was absolutely incredible. I still get chills in my body when I think about that moment and how lucky I am to have been a part of history!”
Once the Eagles won the NFC East Championships, the College of Arts and Sciences student had a week to prepare before leaving for the Super Bowl in Minnesota. And there was a lot to do to prepare — it was week five during Drexel’s winter term, which meant that it was midterms week.
“During that week, I immediately reached out to all of my professors and told them that I would be absent from classes for a week,” said Hill. “All of my professors were very understanding, but were concerned about me submitting assignments and missing midterm exams. So, before I left, I finished all of the work that I could and turned it in early before I left.”
While she was in Minnesota, she was able to communicate with her professors via email and complete online homework and other assignments. She squeezed in school work when she wasn’t Inside Access and Access Live!
“I enjoyed spending that time with my teammates because we all are a big family and the friendships I’ve made on this team are irreplaceable,” she said.
After all that, it was finally time for one of the biggest events in television and, of course, the biggest game in the NFL that season.
“The football team, the cheerleaders and the fans were all united during that game hoping for a great success,” she said.
And what a great success it was.
“When the game ended, green and white confetti in the shape of Vince Lombardi trophies and streamers exploded everywhere and filled the entire stadium. It was the most unbelievable feeling that I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Hill. “All of the Eagles fans were shouting with excitement and there were tears of joy running down their faces. It was such a surreal moment seeing everyone around me so excited.”
That excitement hasn’t stopped. The morning after the game, Eagles fans in the airport congratulated the cheerleaders (who were “proudly representing the Eagles by wearing Eagles clothing,” Hill noted). When they arrived in Philadelphia, everyone in the airport was cheering.
During the Super Bowl victory parade on Feb. 8, all of the cheerleaders — including Hill —were on the first vehicle to kick off the parade. They were followed by coach Doug Pederson and the players, who had the Lombardi trophy. Hill had arrived at Lincoln Financial Field at 7 a.m. to prepare for the parade and spent hours standing and waving to all of the proud fans that were lined up. After the parade, Hill and the other cheerleaders assembled on the Art Museum steps to cheer on the players giving speeches, Hill said.
>“It was unbelievable to see all those people standing around the Art Museum steps,” said Hill.
There were other things Hill had to do upon returning to Philly — like making up every midterm that she missed (she had snuck in some studying during the plane rides to and from Minnesota). She credits her time management skills and her great work ethic with being able to complete the assignments — and the fact that her professors were very understanding.
Being an Eagles cheerleader has changed Hill’s life, from teaching her the importance of being a confident woman to helping her become a positive role model for girls.
“Throughout the year, the Eagles cheerleaders instruct Eagles Junior Cheer Clinics for young girls to learn dances and interact with the cheerleaders,” explained Hill. The squad as a whole is also involved with charities and making special appearances at over 350 appearances.
Being a part of the team has also helped Hill with her scholastic performance, especially as a communications student who gets interviewed by the media — both local and national — and meets with fans regularly.
Even though some time has passed since the Super Bowl win, things haven’t slowed down for Hill.
“I am currently in the audition process to re-audition for the team,” said Hill. “Every year, cheerleaders need to re-audition for the squad. The 2018 squad will be announced on April 19, so I will hopefully be a part of the 2018 season excitement! And I cannot wait for what this upcoming season has in store.”
Hill has been an Eagles cheerleader since April of 2016 and her two years on the squad have been incredible, she said. She was a member of the Drexel Dance Team before she tried out (and made the team on her first try) and has been dancing since she was three.
Hill is on the squad with Sage Cifaloglio, a 2014 LeBow College of Business graduate, who has been on the team for six years. DrexelNow previously featured Cifaloglio in a 2012 article when she first made the team and followed up the next year when she and her twin sister Gabriella, who graduated from the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in 2014, both became Eagles cheerleaders.