Meet the NJ councilwoman who’s also an NFL cheerleader
WASHINGTON (Gloucester) — While most of the Township Council was wearing jerseys to support the Philadelphia Eagles, one of their colleagues was following the team's success as an Eagles cheerleader.
Councilwoman Dana Pasqualone, a political newcomer who was also a rookie on the Eagles cheerleading squad, said seeing the team end their year with a Super Bowl title was a lifelong dream. Pasqualone said she had first tried out when she was 18-years-old, so to have it happen a decade later during such a special year made it even better.
"It's kind of a coincidence that my struggles and my challenges in getting on the team are kind of parallel to what happened this year and all the adversity they faced and getting knocked down and getting back up," she said.
While she was a cheerleader at Washington Township High School, Pasqualone said she was more interested in being on the field playing coed football at Rowan University. She said since graduating in 2011 she has continued to play football and runs to stay in shape, which is important for her work cheering for the team.
"There's a stereotype that we just do cheerleading or there's nothing else to it. Being a cheerleader is more involved than people think," she said. "We do over 350 appearances a year and the majority of them are charity appearances."
As she was getting used to life as an NFL cheerleader, Pasqualone said she was also adjusting to being a councilwoman. Much like her cheer career, she said she had long considered entering politics. Prior to joining the council she said her most recent entry into politics had been as a class senator at Rowan. She said she was approached several times to run for council before eventually deciding to run on the Republican ticket.
Pasqualone received the most votes in the 2016 election. She received 12,073 votes to win one of two available seats, beating the third place finisher by less than 1,000 votes. She said since joining the council she has seen the challenges that come with being a member of the governing body.
"It's not an easy job because in other jobs you train for it, you learn new things, and you proceed. But in terms of politics, there's no training really for it," she said. "What we have to do is what's in the best interest of our community members and residents. I always vote what I feel is best for them."
Whether it is her fellow cheerleaders or her fellow council members, Pasqualone said everyone is very supportive of her and she is glad to show that she can balance her two part-time roles, in addition to her full-time job as a senior operations analyst at a technology company.
"I wanted to be a role model for younger women and say that you don't have to be put into one bucket as a cheerleader or as a politician or in operations at a tech company," she said. "You don't have to be in one bucket, why can't you do it all. Why does somebody have to be singular? They can have a variety of interests and enjoy multiple things and do it all, balance it all."
No matter what happens, Pasqualone said she will always remember being on the field for the Super Bowl and seeing what was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity firsthand.
"I was crying because it just was such a magical moment," she said. "What made it more special was the fact that the Eagles organization and the Eagles players have such high integrity and give back to the community. They face so much adversity and no matter what people told them they kept getting up and trying and trying and came together collectively as a team versus just being one player that had a lot of talent."
As she begins her second year on the team, and another year on the council, Pasqualone said she is not sure where her political or cheer careers will take her in the future, but is looking to make the most of it before figuring out what her next step is.
"I always have goals for myself, so whatever I do I know it will be meaningful to me and it will be something with giving back to the community or giving back to somebody in some way."
One of the things Pasqualone said she is most excited about this year is the Eagles Autism Challenge. She said so far she has raised more than $700, and the team has a goal of raising $10,000. To learn more about the event, being held at Lincoln Financial Field, check out this website.
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