By Mitch Meador, Fort Sill TribuneOctober 18, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla. (Oct. 18, 2018) -- Advice from a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader: Make sure your legs are straight and your toes are pointed. And don't forget to smile!
Four members of the cheerleading squad for the top-ranked team in the NFL's American Football Conference West division stopped into Fort Sill Oct. 13, as part of a tour in support of service members and their families. The cheer team also visited Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City, and Sheppard Air Force Base, outside of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Their time here was short but eventful. They conducted a cheerleading clinic at Honeycutt Fitness Center, lunched on foot-long submarine sandwiches, and then posed for pictures and signed posters for the throngs of service members at the Fort Sill Main Exchange.
Charles Eaves, exchange store manager, said they were brought in as a morale-builder for the troops and their family members.
When it came time to say goodbye, it was the service members who were smiling. More than one Soldier broke out in a grin when the team mascot, the K.C. Wolf, pawed their buzz cuts to see what they felt like. The mascot good-naturedly clowned with kids and service members alike, and as you might expect, plenty of Soldiers were taking "selfies" with the Wolf.
Dave Hosier own's TLJ Marketing, a brokerage company that sells to Army/Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). His company partners with the Kansas City Chiefs to organize road trips such as this one as his way of giving back to those who serve their country.
Caroline (the cheerleaders are only allowed to give out their first names) admitted it's a madhouse wherever they go.'
"It is. It's so fun to see all the families, though, and all their excitement. That's something that we love. We just are very excited to be part of this," she said.
"The military is very important to the Chiefs organization as a whole, and also to the Chiefs' cheerleaders. So really, anytime that we do not have a game at Arrowhead Stadium, you can find a group of us on a military base domestically or internationally. We try to visit as many bases as we're able to, to just bring some joy to the families that are there serving. It's truly an honor and a huge part of what goes into our role as the Chiefs' cheerleaders."
They put on cheerleading clinics everywhere they go.
"We really put an emphasis on working with youth, and anytime we travel to a military base, it truly is a highlight for us to work with the kids who are there on base, just to see their joy and excitement and to create some memories for them."
Their cheerleading clinic at Honeycutt drew 15 girls. The clinics are typically tailored to ages 5-18. The girls might already be cheerleaders for their schools, or they might have taken some lessons and are just thinking about becoming cheerleaders. In the clinics they're split up so that the K.C. Chiefs' cheerleaders can work on skill sets specific to their age range.
They also work on sparking the girls' interest and offering encouragement. Each participant was given a certificate of completion when the clinic was over.
"We really try to focus on more than just the cheering aspect. We try to talk about character, and what it means to be a teammate, and what it means to be brave, and what it means to have confidence. Those are really the values that we're trying to instill when we're working with youth," Caroline said.
"We open with a warm-up and a stretch. And then we work on cheer skills, dance skills, and we teach them a short combination at the end," she said.
As part of that, they taught the girls to recite what they call a "stinger": "K.C. Chiefs are best in the West."