By Skip Vaughn, USAG RedstoneJune 9, 2010
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Last year Stephanie Caldwell was looking for concert information on the Von Braun Center website when she noticed an ad for dance team members.
"I was interested right away because I was looking for an outlet to be involved with some type of dance team," she recalled.
Caldwell tried out for the Viper Vixens, the dancers for the local professional arena football team. She made it and has been with the Vixens ever since. Officially, they're the Cycle Nation Viper Vixens.
Caldwell, a contract specialist at the AMCOM Contracting Center, is the coordinator over the Vixens. She's also on their promo team which goes up into the stands during games doing eye black for the youngsters, selling pictures and signing autographs.
"I love the community involvement," she said. "And it's fun. (The Alabama Vipers are) a great organization."
The 19-member Vixens include 12 dancers who do a pregame dance, halftime dance and end zone dances during the home games at the Von Braun Center arena. The seven promotion models, including Caldwell, are in the stands doing the eye black, pictures and autographs. They also do community events. The Vixens members get paid by the Alabama Vipers organization.
"You've got to work out," Caldwell said of the need to stay physically fit. "They don't have a weight requirement. It's all how you look in uniform, so it's based by individual. But you still have to be physically fit. I work out almost every day (at the Sparkman Fitness Center)."
She's in her second year with the team and first as the coordinator. The dancers practice together 2-3 times a week for a total of 4-6 hours. "It can be pretty demanding," Caldwell said. The members have to try out at the start of each year.
"I think the biggest factor is kids," Caldwell said. "Kids look up to you."
Her 24th birthday is June 6, just before the Vipers next home game, June 11. "I was at a home game my birthday last year," she said. "I didn't really let them know it was my birthday. Only my (then team) coordinator knew."
The Gillette, Wyo., native started dancing when she was 6. She did cheerleading through middle school in Casper, Wyo., and high school at Bob Jones. As a student at Bob Jones High, she did competition cheerleading with the Spirit Club in Madison. She graduated from Bob Jones in 2004. Her parents, Korky and Leigh Ann Gish, reside in Madison.
"Really my (dance team) goals are just to be involved in the community," she said. "I enjoy the promotional work we do. I enjoy seeing kids' faces light up at the games. Just to be a good role model."
She earned an associate degree in general education and prelaw in 2007 from Calhoun Community College and a bachelor's in business management in 2009 from Athens State. She'll graduate from Florida Institute of Technology on Aug. 6 with a master's in management.
She started working for the Army as a summer hire in 2004 with the Lower Tier Project Office. She became a student aide by that September and a co-op in 2007. Caldwell became an intern in 2009 in acquisition and contracting and expects to complete the intern program in 2011.
At 5-foot-5 and 123 pounds, she also works at Fox television channel 54 as a promotional model doing commercials and events. She's been doing that since May 2009.
Her hobbies include being outdoors, working out and spending time with her family and friends. "I really don't have a lot of free time," she said, laughing.
"I went into (the Viper Vixens) wanting just to find an outlet in dance or to be involved," Caldwell said. "And I ended up making wonderful friends and gaining invaluable experience."