It’s not just the Seahawks themselves the 12th Man misses during a bye week, but all things Hawk related: Blitz, Taima ‘the hawk,’ and of course, the Sea Gals.
Sherri Thompson, Sea Gals director, granted the ladies the week off. Well, most of them for most of the week. The show group is practicing for a big performance they have coming up at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Dec. 7.
“We do costume changes, singing, a full-on hour-and-half variety show.”
And then there’s a Monday night game to get ready for, with practices on Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.
So what’s it like for these 33 women who brave the conditions to cheer on the team and warm up the 12th Man every Sunday?
Thompson says the Sea Gals, most of whom have day jobs, arrive at CenturyLink Field early for a 1 p.m. game. They’re out on the field between 9 and 9:30 a.m. for a regular season game. They spend an hour practicing, 90 minutes if it’s a preseason game.
“We always do different dances, so it’s not like you’re going out there doing the same thing game after game, but with the different formation, a different dance, a different starting point,” says Thompson.
Between pregame, two minute warning dances, features, sideline dances, and fillers, Thompson says there are probably about 35 different dances the SeaGals learn before the end of the season.
But the hardest part isn’t the schedule or performances, it’s the cold weather.
“It’s hard to dance in a hat and coat and to perform kicks.”
But, like any other seasoned Northwesterner, they do a lot of layering. Thompson says the uniform also includes long plants and long-sleeve tops, not to mention vests.
After that, the signature white glamor uniform Thompson says has been called the best in NFL, sees little changes throughout the year.
“I love to accent to acknowledge and celebrate whatever we’re recognizing for that particular game.”
That may include pins or ribbons, but not much else changes once the uniform is decided.
After game day practice, Thompson says the Sea Gals get about an hour to polish their hair and makeup with the help of two makeup artists and two hairstylists available in the locker room.
“By the first game, they’ve been through makeup classes and calendar shoots […] and lots of practice for doing their own makeup.”
After getting glammed up, Thompson sends them out, with police escorts, to seven different locations in the stadium to sell calendars. Two groups go to Touchdown City at noon to perform before the game.
“Everyone is back in the locker room at about 12:30,” says Thompson.
They freshen up, do a final stretch, line up, and off they go.
“It’s just fun. Game day is fun, fun, fun, even if it’s raining.”
Thompson credits the 12th Man for motivating the Sea Gals and says she always feels a little sad for cheerleaders at stadiums with a lot of empty seats.
“By the end of the game, everyone is so excited and thankful to get those darn boots off their feet, but other than that, it’s really fun.”
Following the game, the gals head off in their own direction. They’ll go over notes and video on Tuesday.
Thompson, who was a Sea Gal from 81-83, says a lot has changed since she was in that uniform in the rain.
“You think back 30 years ago and people would go, ‘What’s a seagull?'”