FROM CHEERS TO LEADER
Former Patriots cheerleading captain, R.I.’s Brittany Dickie is named dance trainer for squad
FOXBORO – When does a cheerleader take a pause from cheering? When Super Bowl history is unfolding before your very eyes and it’s your final game with the squad.
Brittany Dickie’s last official act as a New England Patriots cheerleading captain was simple. The Woonsocket native and 2010 Mount St. Charles graduate told her fellow cheerleaders to place their pom-poms by their sides and watch the climatic stages of last February’s epic comeback in Houston. No one inside NRG Stadium would be looking in their direction anyway, was Dickie’s rationale.
Standing alongside the Patriots’ end zone – James White’s title-clinching score saw him fight to break the plane of the Falcons’ end zone – Dickie made sure to soak up the atmosphere and ride the winning wave after New England clinched Super Bowl LI. She remembers falling to the ground and making an angel out of the clouds of confetti that had fallen.
The Patriots have a fouryear term limit for their cheerleaders with the 25year-old Dickie exhausting all her eligibility after last season. It was an incredible ride, one that featured two Super Bowl titles and overseas trips that wouldn’t have been possible had she not made the squad in her first attempt in 2013 and kept coming back for more over the next three years.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Dickie said. “Once it’s gone, you want it back in the worst way.”
Even though Dickie wanted to keep living in the cheerleading moment that had become second nature, it was time to look to the future. Fortunately for this Mountie alum, she didn’t have to dwell about a life without cheerleading for very long. The opportunity to remain with the Patriots was imminent.
A few weeks after New England captured the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy, she was offered the full-time position as dance trainer by cheerleading head coach Tracy Sormanti. As Dickie noted, she still gets to live the cheerleading dream.
“It hit me hard that my years with the Patriots were over. It became my whole life,” Dickie said when reached earlier this week. “Then Tracy called to say that a position had opened up and how she thought I would be perfect for it.
“I’m even more involved than before when I was on the team,” she added. “I actually love being the dance trainer more than a cheerleader because I have more of a say in what the girls do. They look up to me and ask questions that they probably won’t have asked before. In a way, I’m almost like their big sister.”
To go from the game-day routine of makeup and curling the hair to making sure all 33 girls on this year’s squad are in sync and functioning as one cohesive unit is Dickie’s way of paying it forward. She’s lived through the demands and the time constraints that go with being a cheerleader for a popular NFL franchise. Now she’s in a position to offer guidance.
“I’m in a Patriots’ T-shirt on game-days, watching and letting them know what they need to do or when a dance is coming up,” Dickie said. “I still have the best seat in the house, which is awesome.”
For the first two years of her New England cheerleading odyssey, Dickie was busy finishing up the requirements for her dance major degree at Dean College, where she graduated from in 2015. Just as noteworthy, she survived the grueling rigors of tryouts and ensured that she got to spend her Sundays on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium.
“Truthfully, I never thought I would get to make the team on the first try. There were ladies who had been trying to make the squad for years,” Dickie said. “The audition process is the most stressful thing I will ever do in my life.”
There have been plenty of perks along the way. After the 2013 season, Dickie represented the NFL in China. There were trips to Cancun and Aruba for photoshoots for the swimsuit calendar. After each Super Bowl, Dickie and her fellow cheerleaders received a commemorative pendent.
The most treasured possession from Dickie’s four years with the Pats was the ring she received with four diamonds on it, symbolizing each year she spent as a cheerleader. When she joined the squad in 2013, she was one of 13 members in her rookie class. She wound up being one of three to see all four years through.
“If it wasn’t for the Patriots, I wouldn’t have been able to do the types of things or visit the places that I did,” she said. “It’s helped me grow as a woman and I guess allowed me to become a leader now.”
The Patriots cheerleaders will practice twice per week. On those days, it’s Dickie’s job to teach the assigned choreography to the squad. There’s a lot of home-based work that requires her attention. Think along the lines of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick breaking down film – with more smiling.
“We’ll get pictures that depict every move. If a picture shows that one head is off, we’ll focus on that and how we can make it better for the next game,” Dickie said. “I love seeing their growth. When you’re on the team, you don’t see it as much. Now that I’m on the other side, I see them always trying their best. It’s such a good group of ladies. Everyone is so respectful.”
Cheerleading has been in Dickie’s blood for as long as she can remember. Her parents, William and Karen, are co-coaches for the Mount cheerleading squad.
“I was born into cheerleading. Like it or not, I had to cheer,” Dickie said with a laugh.
When time permits, Dickie will return into her alma mater and offer pointers and tips to the current Mount cheerleaders. She was a Mountie cheerleader for all four years.
“They think I’m a celebrity,” Dickie said, who’s the subject of a senior project at Mount that centers on what it’s like to be a Patriots cheerleader. “Hopefully they’re one day in a position where they can tryout.”
Down the road, Dickie would like to open her own dance studio that specifically caters to those with special needs.
“I want to maximize their passion for dance,” she said.
For now, she’s going to cherish the bond she still has with her second family in Foxboro. As Dickie will attest, there’s life after cheering for New England’s favorite football team.
“I can’t tell you how much I love what I do right now,” Dickie said.
Woonsocket native Brittany Dickie, a New England Patriots cheerleader from 2013 to 2016, is pictured during a 2016 home game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. This season the Mount St. Charles graduate is working as a dance trainer and coach for the...