Queensway gals represent Argos at Grey Cup gala

RAH-KING THE BOAT: Alessandra N. and Margherita are jet-setting to Stampeder town for the 2009 Cheer Extravaganza.

Cheerleading competition will test performers’ mettle

As ambassadors of the Toronto Argonauts football club, their job requires a lot more than just a song and dance number.

Alessandra N. and Margherita are members of the Toronto Cheerleaders, the Double Blue’s boost of confidence when the gridiron is unforgiving.

“There’s that dance aspect — dancing is absolutely my passion — but we’re so much more than just a cheerleading dance team,” says Alessandra.

The 36 members of the team, whose surnames cannot be published, do over 300 appearances a year for charities and volunteer work.

Though the men failed to make the playoffs this year, the two Queensway residents, along with their troupe, will be soaking in the Grey Cup festivities in Calgary Nov. 26-29.

For Alessandra, it’s a return to the “craziness” that comes with the Canadian Football League’s gala.

“Last year was my first Grey Cup experience and some of the girls spoke about it so I kind of had an idea of what to expect,” she says, “but I mean it was so much more: It was fantastic.”

No sporting event is without a little friendly competition though, as the Cheer Extravaganza will test their mettle. Toronto’s own will compete in amalgamated routines from the entire season.

A 10-minute performance is no sweat for the ladies, as they both have been cutting rugs since they were four-years-old. At the same school even: Sean Boutilier Academy of Dance.

In fact, it was Alessandra who brought Margherita aboard team Argo.

Not a lot of people realize how much work goes into dancing though, Margherita said.

“It’s just really rewarding when you go out there after all your hard work,” she said. “A lot of people — in my opinion — they just don’t see dance for what it really is.

“There are not many people that really know the hard work that goes into it.”

During her rookie season, Margherita says her favourite moment came with the Dreams Take Flight program where the Argos team up with Air Canada to send underprivileged kids to Disneyland.

“There was a red carpet for them to walk down and the cheerleaders stood on either side of the carpet and made a tunnel for them to go through,” she recalls. “Some of the kids were crying just because they were so happy.”

It’ll be the first trip to Stampeder town for the two, but it will also be the first time Margherita gets a chance to shine before her peers from other CFL teams.

“The crowd up in Calgary — I hear from one of the other girls who used to live there — they’re crazy,” she says, with a laugh.

Alessandra agrees, but adds the fans — especially the little ones — are the ones who steal the show.

“It’s fantastic … at the end of the game when you have young kids coming up to you asking for autographs,” she says. “It’s an amazing experience — feeling, actually. I can’t describe it.”

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