Survive and advance

A little more than 600 ladies made their way to the Methodist Training Center Saturday morning as the search for the 2007 Houston Texans Cheerleaders squad got underway.

The Texans consistently have the highest turnout for cheerleader tryouts in the NFL, and this year was no different as applicants began to lineup at 8 a.m. for registration.

Nearly 100 judges took in the action for round one, which saw more than 200 ladies removed from consideration.

Four rounds took place on Saturday with the top-50 ladies being invited back this Wednesday for the finals.

For Texans cheerleading coordinator Alto Gary, this year offered a new feel to something that she is now in her sixth year of running.

"I see a lot more qualified talent this year," Gary said as votes were being tabulated. "I think a lot of people did their homework just from looking at their costumes and their boots."

And it's not all fun and games for the woman who runs the Texans Cheerleaders. While Saturday is one of the most important days of her year, Gary knows the process takes a while.

"It's fun," Gary said of the 12-hour day. "I do like to see the different uniforms and different personalities. That is fun. It can be grueling because today is going to be a long day."

For some applicants, it won't be a long day. One lucky lady who made the first large cut was Andrea.

"My best friend told me about the tryouts, but she just got cut so I'm kind of sad, but I'm still excited to be here," she said.

Andrea has some dancing experience from high school and is currently enrolled in college. This was her first year trying out, but she wasn't as nervous as she anticipated.

"Actually no," Andrea said. "I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. It was kind of surreal."

{QUOTE} One lady who is back for a second try is Kristen. She made it to the third round two years ago, one round shy of making the finals, and took one year off before returning this year.

"I tried out two years ago when I graduated college and I just missed out," Kristen said. "I danced five years in college so I've been missing it.

"It was different from last time. I didn't know what to expect, this year I did. This time I was more calm."

Gary thinks that ladies who have tried out before do have a slight edge over those who have not in the past.

"Yes, you know what to expect," she said. "I hope at this point you come back knowing what mistakes you make. I see a lot of familiar faces."

For other first timers, Saturday offered a chance to get another taste of something in their past that they miss dearly. Such is the case for Yvette.

"I saw the advertisement on TV," she said. "I've danced before, but it's been six years so I saw it and I thought I have to try it.

"I've always wanted to get back into it. I've seen it on T.V. and you think, 'Wow, I want to be one of those girls,' so I decided to come out."

After final cuts are made on Wednesday, Gary will have just two days to get the ladies ready for their first public appearance.

The 2007 Houston Texans Cheerleaders will make their debut at the Draft Day party presented by Miller Lite this Saturday.

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