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For the past 17 years, Sara Vrancik has dreamed of becoming an NFL cheerleader. This week, that dream became a reality.

A 2017 graduate of IUP, Vrancik learned Tuesday that she made the Philadelphia Eagles’ cheerleading roster, her hometown team.

“I’m still on cloud nine!” she said by phone from her home in Philadelphia on Thursday. “It’s absolutely a dream come true, yes.”

Much to her surprise, Vrancik was one of nine rookie cheerleaders who made the cut from a pool of 61 finalists. She survived four rigorous rounds of cuts to make the roster of 37.

“It was certainly not expected,” she said. “Since March, it’s been crazy stressful, especially balancing my full-time job on top of that. The finals were actually on Tuesday, so that’s when I found out. They announced the winners while we were sitting backstage so I found out right in that moment, and it was so surreal. I was in shock. I wasn’t moving, and my friends were like, ‘Go, go out there (on stage).’

“When he said my name, it was just crazy. Obviously, I started crying just because all my hard work paid off. I never kind of stepped out of my comfort zone like that. It was a very different style of cheerleading. It’s more dance. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

A four-year cheerleader while attending IUP, she is making a career out of cheerleading. Vrancik, 24, works as a sales representative for Varsity Spirit, designing custom cheerleading and dance apparel. A cheerleader since the age of 7, Vrancik had been a staff member on the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) for the past seven years. 

Despite her lifelong relationship with cheerleading, she felt like something was missing from her life since she graduated from IUP.

“I still work with cheerleaders, but I was missing performing, just that aspect of it, instead of just being behind the scenes,” she said. “The last time I really performed I guess was at IUP, for football and basketball games. I’ve performed at camps that I worked the past couple summers, but I’ve only done one or two since then, so it wasn’t as frequent as it used to be.

“So this winter, I was like, ‘What am I doing? I need to put myself out there. I can’t live with my parents in the woods anymore,’ so I moved to the city, and I signed up for the workshops (in February), and now I’m here.”

And now she has come full circle.

“Another thing that’s cool with the NCA, they are owned by Varsity Spirit, so my full-time job kind of correlates,” Vrancik said. “I grew up going to the camps, then after high school, I staffed the camps wearing the apparel, and now I sell the apparel. Cheerleading has just opened up so many opportunities for me that I never even could have imagined, and it brought me where I am today.

“I’ve been around the country with NCA, and the Eagles is my next step in my professional career as a cheerleader.”

Although her role with the Eagles is essentially a part-time job, don’t mistake that for a part-time commitment.

“The Eagles is kind of a part-time gig,” she said. “It consists of obviously cheering at the games, and we go to appearances and photo shoots as well. It’s definitely year-round.”

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