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Cheerleader of the Week: Dani

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Texans Cheerleader of the Week Dani showed an impressive dance ability in her rookie season. Even in postseason practices, those who regularly watch her perform speak of her as if she weren't a rookie at all.

"I do not have to spend a lot of time with Dani," cheerleader services manager Alto Gary said. "Whatever is given to her, she does it; she puts a little spice in it and she works it out…I tell (the cheerleaders) that dance is a language and you need to speak whatever routine we're doing, and she's really good at that."

Her fellow rookies marvel at Dani's moves, heaping high praise upon their teammate.

"Dani's probably one of the best rookie dancers we have," rookie cheerleader Ashley C said. "Every time she's dancing, she just has so much energy at practice and even on the field. Every time we're practicing, I just try to stand beside to feed off of her energy.

"She just creates this vibe. She just goes out there and performs and she's really awesome. I totally look up to her."

But those strong performances comes from more than just raw talent. Dani employed a veteran strategy to help endure the rigors of her exhausting rookie season.

Like veteran Texans Cheerleaders such as Lynnette and Kisha, Dani enlists the services of Darren Williams, owner of Optimum Pro-Am Sports training. Dani spends three days a week in one-hour training sessions with Williams, whose clients includes athletes from the National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.

{QUOTE}With Texans game and practice performances that span three consecutive hours of dance at a time, Dani said the training sessions with Williams provided her with an essential foundation during the season.

"It is probably one of the hardest hours of my day, I will have to admit…(but) you need these kinds of things to prepare you for that," Dani said. "You get tired, and the first time I came in here, I was ready to leave in 10 minutes because it was so hard. It was nothing like I was ever used to. But it definitely has helped me get through different things."

Williams first began training cheerleaders with the Houston Texans Cheerleaders. Accordingly, his cheerleader-specific training movements are called Houston Texans Cheerleader Drills 1-6.

The drills emphasize motions essential to the sport of cheerleading, such as kicks and lifts. Though Williams says the cheerleaders work as hard as any professional athlete he trains, he also notes an interesting challenge of working with Dani and her teammates.

"The girls are unique," Williams said. "They have concerns that some of my athletes don't have. I'm not accustomed to people being concerned about the calices on their hands or if their nails are OK, or how they look doing this or that.

"But they've really come along really well. They've worked real hard; they've worked as hard as all the other athletes that are in here. They're real athletes and they put forth a lot of effort, and I demand a lot of effort."

For this Cheerleader of the Week, that effort resulted in an outstanding rookie season.

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