When Levi’s Stadium opens this summer, guests will likely be greeted by a gallantly waving pool of red and gold – the beauty of the highly acclaimed San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush squad greeting guests with flair, adorned with their commonly identifiable red and gold pom poms and popular attire.
While often greeting fans at games and keeping the energy level at its peak at a number of community events and on game days, making the squad is no easy task. The four-phase audition begins several weeks before open auditions are held. The 49ers host workshops to help prepare the over 500 vying in the battle to become NFL cheerleaders for the highly-renown Gold Rush.
Selecting the final squad for the team is an arduous task, with over 500 competing in the preliminary auditions at Maples Pavilion at Stanford. Of the large sea of young women, the field gets trimmed to approximately 200 for phase two of the prelims, then thinned to 82 for the final audition, held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in front of a capacity crowd on April 11 – the only phase of auditions open to the public.
Of the 82 finalists this year, several were local, including three from Santa Clara. But it wasn’t just locals vying for the 40 coveted roster spots. Contestants came from far and near – up and down California, Las Vegas, Reno, Houston, Texas, New Jersey, and even a few from Hawaii and Japan.
One of the finalists was Santa Claran Jessa Carmack, a former Miss Santa Clara’s Outstanding Teen, Miss Mission City’s Outstanding Teen and Miss California’s Outstanding Teen. Carmack is hoping to make the squad for the third consecutive season, after making the team the past two seasons.
“I’ve always wanted to be a professional cheerleader, specifically for the 49ers,” she says. “They held an audition where over 500 girls came. It was pretty intense. Every year, you have to retry out for the squad and there are 32 [spots for] cheerleaders. It’s nerve-wracking because there are so many beautiful, talented women in the room. But you really just have to stay in your own body and work on what you’re doing, and not compare yourself to other girls,” stated Jessa in a previous Santa Clara WEEKLY article (www.santaclaraweekly.com/2013/Issue-10/gold_rush_cheerleader_shares_her_super_bowl_experience.html).
With so much talent auditioning, the 49ers have elected to expand the roster to 40 women this season. Dance ability, crowd appeal, showmanship and individual applications are criteria used in the judging.
Over the past 30 years, the Gold Rush has established a reputation as one of the NFL’s premiere performance groups, having been featured on many national television shows, performing for numerous USO tours around the world, and appearing in five Super Bowls. In addition to cheering at 49ers home games, Gold Rush cheerleaders work with the Junior Cheerleader program, participate in the annual swimsuit calendar and take part in a myriad of community and fundraising events.
For more information on the Gold Rush, visit www.49ers.com/gold-rush/.