Wizards cheerleaders juggle careers and cheers

7:44 AM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA9)--They may be the unsung heroes of the NBA. Whether their team is winning or losing, the league's professional cheerleaders still need to energize the crowds. But the women on the court in Washington juggle their careers and their cheers.

"It can be a really, really long day," said Leah, whose last name we can't disclose to protect her privacy.

Her alarm goes off at 5:45 every morning and Leah happily begins her day with a classroom of special ed students.

"You always have to be on. You're putting on a show for your students. And especially for special education students. You have to engage them the whole time," she said.

In fact, engaging 10 year-old boys is not unlike her other job--firing up a Washington Wizards audience.

"I am my students' biggest cheerleader so it is very similar," said Leah, through laughter.

Dancing since the age of three, Leah says she's lucky to combine both her passions: dance and teaching.

"I think the most rewarding part is when it finally clicks to them and you finally reach them in some way or another. You see that light go off in their heads and you see them really be successful and that's so exciting to me," said Leah.

And she's among an entire squad of educated career women. There's Joanna, a Harvard anthropology graduate and corporate trainer. And Michaela, a government contractor who works at the Navy Yard in DC. And many others.

"I am the luckiest girl in the world," she said.

The NBA's professional cheerleaders aren't always appreciated for the long hours they put in-at practice, games, and countless public appearances. At games and practices, they make just 12 dollars an hour.

Leah's students know she goes to a lot of Wizards games, but they have no idea she's a cheerleader. Her secret may not be safe for much longer.

Written by Andrea McCarren, WUSA9

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