This past summer, one Loyola graduate replaced her maroon and gold pom-poms with orange and black ones.
Jordan Templin, a recent grad of the nursing school and a former collegiate cheerleader, is now cheering for an audience of more than 65,000 people — quite the jump from the few hundred, at most, at Loyola’s games. After a period of vigorous tryouts, Templin was selected as a 2015-16 Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.
Templin started dancing when she was 3 years old. She did a few years of ballet and jazz and 10 years of tap dancing. In grade school, she began her cheerleading career, which she continued in high school by cheering at football and basketball games. Templin was also a member of the school’s dance team for three years.
At Loyola, Templin was known among her teammates and friends for her positive personality and contagious smile. Avidly involved in Loyola athletics, she cheered all four years and led the team for her last two seasons.
When Templin cheered at her last game in March 2014, she said she remembered thinking that it might be the last time she ever cheered.
“I think [being a professional cheerleader] has always been in the back of my mind, but I always focused on what I was doing at the moment, so at Loyola I was just always 100 percent into college cheerleading,” said the native of Dayton, Ohio. “I remember my last game in Gentile and just taking that moment in completely.”
Templin decided it was important to get her nursing career on track before pursuing her professional cheerleading career. She began working full time as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse at Miami Valley Hospital.
But in the last year, Templin realized how much she missed cheerleading and the team dynamic. She decided to tryout for the Ben-Gals, the Cincinnati Bengals’ cheerleading team.
Templin described the six-day tryout process as rigorous and intense. Before tryouts even began, there were optional dance clinics and workshops that were highly recommended for everyone interested in joining the team.
The first round of auditions was for rookies trying out for the first time. All the girls learned a short routine that was later performed in front of a panel of judges. Cuts were made that evening.
The second round included a four-day workshop, in which all the women who made it past the first round had to join the veterans and learn new material. The prospective Ben-Gals were asked to perform skill sets, which included a series of kicks, splits, jumps and turns, in front of judges. Then there was another round of cuts.
Templin found herself among 60 women who had an invite to the “final show,” the last round of tryouts. At the final show — which was open to the public and drew a crowd of a couple hundred fans, according to Templin — all the women performed an opening number together before they were split into pairs to perform a final routine. While all of this happened, an interview and bikini modeling portion of tryouts took place.
When Templin made the team, she divided her focus between her nursing career and cheerleading. She was immediately thrown into the busy life of a professional cheerleader. Her schedule was filled with team workouts, meeting with sponsors and a trip to Mexico for the Ben-Gals calendar shoot.
The most surreal moment for Templin, she said, was when she stepped on the field in uniform for the first time on Aug. 14, when the Bengals played a preseason game against the New York Giants.
“We headed out onto the field and I think that was probably one of the best moments for me — walking out onto the field as a professional cheerleader for the first time because we were in and then all of a sudden they said, ‘Your 2015 Cincinnati Ben-Gals!’” she said. “I can’t believe I actually made it to this point. It’s been a pretty surreal experience so far.”
For now, Templin is taking the whole experience in.
“I feel like I’m at a point that everything I have worked for has come together. So I’m a nurse and a professional cheerleader, and I’m just trying to enjoy every moment of it.”