METHUEN — Methuen High School senior Rebecca Lucas figured it would be "a pretty good workout," when she competed this spring with more than 300 women for a chance to be a New England Patriots cheerleader.
"No way," the 18-year-old soon-to-be-graduate said last week, recalling how poor she thought her chances were to get one of the 24 available spots.
"I had no chance of making the team, because I didn't have any dancing experience like most of the girls," she said. "I never seriously thought about being a Patriots cheerleader. I just thought trying out for the squad would be something fun."
Lucas, who even was competing against 10 veteran Pats cheerleaders, surprised herself by making the first two cuts. First she was among 56 survivors. That field was narrowed to 32, Lucas still among them. Then she managed to last through a grueling two-week practice session before the final cuts were made.
She was flabbergasted to make it.
"I was just having a good time, and really didn't worry about it," said Lucas, who has been a cheerleader at Methuen High for four years — the last two as captain of the football and basketball squads.
"When I found out I had made the team, I was so excited I was jumping up and down. What a surprise," she said.
Lucas, an honor roll student at Methuen High, has competed in All-Star Cheerleading for a decade with Celebrity Cheer out of Salem, N.H. She has never been to a Patriots game, though watches them a lot on television at home with her proud father, Mark.
What was the toughest part of the Patriots tryouts?
"During the first couple of practices, the kicks. Getting prepared for the high kicks. That's probably the hardest workout I'll ever do. It takes about 20 minutes. First you do eight sets of eight, then seven sets of eight, all the way down to one set of eight.