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Greenon grad a Bengals cheerleader

Keeping New Year’s resolutions are on our minds this week, and I cannot help but wonder how many resolutions made it through the first seven days.

I just had a lovely conversation with an amazing Greenon graduate who made a New Year’s resolution at the end of 2010 and is still keeping it.

Jessica Howell had just relocated to Ohio from Washington, D.C., in 2010 when she and friends attended a Bengals game near the end of the season. While watching the Bengals cheerleaders — the Ben-Gals — dance, she decided that she was going to someday be a Ben-Gal.

“I completely invested myself in taking prep classes, learning how to do makeup and hair, and getting instructions from previous Ben-Gals cheerleaders,” Howell said.

Howell already had a head start on the process.

Daughter of Denny and Jeanine Howell of Enon, she had been a cheerleader since middle school. While at Greenon High School, she cheered and continued her dance training at Miami Valley Dance in Fairborn.

At Eastern Kentucky University, she was on the dance team while studying sign language. She was also president of the Delta Omicron chapter of Kappa Delta.

She took her father’s advice very seriously and even listed his quote in her profile on the Ben-Gals webpage.

“Give 100 percent in every aspect of life.”

After working as a sign interpreter in Washington, D.C., for 2 years she returned to Ohio, got her master’s degree in human resource development from Xavier. And she dedicated herself to preparations for tryouts.

Much of her spare time was spent at MuscleDawg Fitness in Miamisburg, preparing for cheer tryout and bikini/fitness competition.

The arduous tryouts for the Ben-Gals begin in the spring of each year, according to Howell. There are four rounds of cuts, including a boot camp. Howell was thrilled to make it onto the Ben-Gals roster the first year she tried out, which was a big accomplishment. She has just completed her second year as a Ben-Gal.

Becoming a Ben-Gal did not mean that her working out regimen was over. Oh no.

In addition to her job as an independent contractor and sign language interpreter, Howell attends two to three strenuous practice sessions a week and continues to workout at the fitness center with a trainer. She also explained that the exciting Bengals games in Paul Brown Stadium are like 4-hour long dance sessions. However, I imagine the time goes very quickly.

In addition to cheering at home games, Ben-Gals also volunteer and attend many charity events throughout the year. Even though she has a full calendar, she takes the time to see her parents in Enon, and both her sisters, Jennifer Priest, and Julianne Howell, who live nearby.

Last weekend when the Bengals’ played their wild card game, Howell had to watch it on a big screen like the rest of us, since the cheerleaders don’t get to go to away games.

As she explained to me, the only away game they get to cheer at is the Super Bowl. So … I asked her to call me when she gets there.

That is one column I’d love to write.

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