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Cheerleader of the Week: Amanda

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Most athletes or performers would love to be considered a fan favorite. That wasn't exactly the dream scenario for Amanda at the 2007 Texans Cheerleaders tryouts, because it meant she didn't make the squad after the final cuts.

The 21-year-old University of Houston student went to tryouts with her friend Randi, who was selected, making the slight even tougher to handle for Amanda.

But though she would've highly preferred being named to the squad the first time around, Amanda held out hope when she was tabbed as one of four finalists to be voted by fans as the 35th and final 2007 Texans Cheerleader.

She had worked hard to prepare for tryouts, and was determined to do everything she could to take advantage of her second opportunity.

"After that, I called everybody I knew," she said. "I had people in China, in Wisconsin, in Iowa voting for me. I made little flyers and posters and I passed them out. I e-mailed everybody and I had promotional party and I passed out all my flyers to everybody that was there and just told them to vote.

"And then Don Nelson on Channel 13 announced me as the fan favorite for 2007 Houston Texan Cheerleaders."

Amanda has dance flowing through her veins. For seven years, she has taught dance at Jazzercise Dance in Deer Park. She teaches jazz, tap, hip hop and true tumble dance styles every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday before cheerleader practice, and has danced at the center for 20 years.

"She showed up at our studio when she was two and I've been training her ever since, and then she's been teaching for me for the last seven years," Jazzercise owner Dana Sparks said. "She's wonderful."

Fellow dance instructor Jessica Quinn, who aspires to be a Texans Cheerleader herself, remembers the day she found out Amanda made the squad.

"I was actually teaching her class when she came in and she announced to us that she won," Quinn said, "and all her students ran over there and gave her the biggest hug. It meant the world to them and she was like their idol, so that's what I want to be."

Sparks recalls when Amanda was on her two-week campaign trail before the announcement.

"We were all very excited," Sparks said. "Of course, all of us were her friends, so we were voting for her, and nobody deserves it more than her. She's been trying for it and I think she's a very valuable asset to the team, and I'm very proud of her."

Cheerleader services manager Alto Gary praised Amanda's tremendous growth over the course of the season.

"She was the one that was voted on from the fans, so that was exciting for her to know that she was the proud favorite," Gary said. "Amanda really stepped it up over the year, because getting a person like that from the contest, you don't know kind of what you're getting, so we actually were lucky."

Gary said one of the things she likes most about Amanda is her attitude when she dances. Other cheerleaders have noticed the same.

"One thing I love about Amanda is that she's really feisty and she's got such a fiery personality," Sonya said. "You wouldn't know that by just meeting her first on, but she's one of my good friends and definitely someone who I'd call if I'm in a bad situation or having a problem."

From being on the outside looking in at a spot on the 2007 squad to being honored by the city of Houston as the fan favorite to being called a favorite by many of her teammates, Amanda is certainly deserving of the spotlight as the Texans Cheerleader of the Week.

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