When beautiful and talented women show up by the hundreds at Texans Cheerleader tryouts each year, there are no freeloaders in the bunch. Even veterans like Texans Cheerleader of the Week Janna must go through the same tryout process as any rookie off the streets.
It would seem the veterans would have a huge upper hand on newcomers by virtue of going through tryouts the year before. Not so.
"I would have to say coming out your second year is ten times harder because you have a taste in your mouth of what you are going to have to leave behind if you don't make the team," Janna said.
If NFL executives adopted Texans Cheerleader-style tryouts, Pro Bowl veterans would have to wow onlookers at Pro Day workouts every offseason just to keep their roster spots. The difference is, girls trying out for this cheerleading squad don't even have clear measurable goals that they know judges want to see.
"(In) football, they're looking for the fastest 40 time, the guy who can dip and curve and swerve and catch the ball," Janna said. "Basketball – they're looking for the eight-foot tall guy who can dunk. And with the Texans, it's like they're always looking for something different, and you don't know what it is.
"So you can go out there and rock your dance and have all the technical skills, and it's just one of those walking into like, 'What if I'm not what they're looking for this year?' I think it's harder than coming in as a rookie."
The extra pressure certainly doesn't help during tryouts. Surprisingly, neither does being in with the coach, cheerleader services manager Alto Gary.
"She's like strictly business," Janna said of Gary during the tryouts. "It's like you don't really know, 'Do I smile at her? Do I keep walking? What do I do?' I've never had a coach that can be that just intimidating as all get out. It's strictly business; there's no play."
As a veteran, Janna did have the advantage of rallying around the girls that she came on with as a rookie, those with whom she shared experiences such as making the team or putting on the Texans Cheerleader uniform and walking on to the field for the first time.
"You're trying to all stick to each other's hip to get ideas and to get that emotional support because they're going through the same boat as you," Janna said. "The second time around you definitely stay close to your vets, because you know that they're going through the same thing you are and they know what they want and they're there to get the same thing."
According to Janna, the dynamic of the tryouts is such that rookies assume the vets trying out will make it, while the vets feel enormous pressure to dominate and retain their spots by holding off new girls. Not wanting to get left behind, Janna knew she would have to improve herself in some way before her second tryout.
"I worked out a lot harder my second year," she said with a laugh, "because they're younger and they're cuter and they're thinner and they're fitter. So I just worked on my body and worked on my appearance and mainly my dancing, making sure it was bigger and that I would be a little bit more noticeable out in the crowd because you have a tendency to blend in.
"You've just got to make sure you have that extra special pop, so I just tried to work on that and mainly just my appearance."
She showed that pop at tryouts to earn a spot on the Texans Cheerleaders in 2007. Now, Janna's teammates can't stop raving about how fit she is, and even may be requesting her workout plan soon.
"Awesome body – Janna has an awesome body," Lynnette said. "I'm still working to get my legs like hers, so when I get there I'll let you know."