Druckenmiller makes AFL cheer team
Courtney Druckenmiller has been cheerleading for nearly her entire life. She’s been in front of hundreds, even thousands, of fans during her days at Parkland High School and East Stroudsburg University.
But the 2011 graduate of Parkland is experiencing a whole new level of cheering this summer. Druckenmiller recently became a member of the Philadelphia Soul arena football Soulmates dance team. She is currently in the midst of her first season with the Soul, which attract nearly 10,000 fans per home game at the Wells Fargo Center.
“Pretty much after college, I knew I wanted to try to cheer for a professional team,” said Druckenmiller, who cheered at ESU for three years and was a captain for two of those. “I actually went out for the [Philadelphia] Eagles and the [New York] Jets, and I made it pretty far to the semifinals but then got cut. I had some friends reach out from Parkland, and they were like you should try out for the Soul.”
She continued to compete, and has now found the perfect fit of for her career and cheering.
Druckenmiller is also a full-time corporate event planner in the Philadelphia area. She made the Soul in November, and the season starts in April and can go through the end of July if the two-time defending champions once again reach the Arena Bowl.
“The cool thing about arena football is it’s only 50 yards,” Druckenmiller said. “So, the game is very fast-paced, which keeps the crowd going crazy. The games have so much energy. It’s amazing being on a huge field like that in front of thousands of people. It’s something I never experienced before.”
Game day involves hours of practice, routine and preparation. A common 7 p.m. game at Wells Fargo Center involves Druckenmiller and the rest of the Soulmates arriving at 2 or 2:30 p.m. Rehearsals can last up to 40 minutes, followed by locker room preparation for two in-game performances.
And despite her extensive history of cheerleading, she still feels the jitters and nerves each time she runs onto the turf.
“For my dance and cheer experience of 17 years, I still get so nervous performing,” Druckenmiller said. “They make it real dramatic, too, with the smoke and the crowd going nuts. They have a video for us before we go out, so it really gets your adrenaline going.”
Druckenmiller plans on trying out for the team next season again. She’ll have to follow the same process—making it through open-call workouts, then two boot camps, followed by a semifinals round, an interview process and a final round of tryouts.
“It’s been the best experience ever, and it’s more than what I expected,” Druckenmiller said. “So, I’ll definitely be going out for the team again for next season.”