The Other Chargers Team
It’s minutes before kickoff. The team huddles close, forming a tight circle in the locker room. Over the din of cheering fans outside, someone leads the team in quiet prayer. Then, after one last rallying speech, the blue-and-gold bunch exits the locker room to make their way onto the field. But not before one last pregame ritual: Each teammate taps the “Ramp D” sign—twice—en route to the gridiron.
But it’s not the blue-and-gold you think: Charger Girls director Lisa Simmons describes the moments before her team of 28 cheerleaders takes to the field for every home game. When your squad bills itself as “the NFL’s hottest dance team,” the expectations are big.
Forty women were on the Chargers’ first cheerleading squad—called the Chargettes—in 1961. The squad enjoyed support from fans and team ownership until owner Eugene Klein eliminated them in 1978 after “several distracting issues, including, but not limited to, posing for Playboy,” says Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston.
The Spanos family formed a new squad—the Charger Girls—in 1990 with an emphasis on dance and community service. Simmons says the team makes 300 community appearances each year and supports a variety of charitable efforts.
“It’s a part-time job but a full-time commitment,” she says. “We have teachers, interior designers, nursing students, a doctor—this is an elite group of women who are talented, classy, intelligent and beautiful on the inside and out.”
Eat your heart out, Dallas.