Growing up, Briana Parkman loved watching ballerinas at ballets and dancers at sporting events.
But Parkman was also infatuated with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, imagining one day she’d be in their boots.
“The Dallas Cowboys was that one team that never ceases to amaze me,” said Parkman, who began dancing at age 3. “They were always exactly what they are, America's sweethearts. I always wanted to be that girl and that’s what my dream always was to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader."
The 23-year-old Southfield resident will get the chance to turn her dream into reality – albeit not with the Cowboys – this weekend when the Lions begin tryouts for their official cheerleading squad.
Tryouts start with the preliminary round 8 a.m. Saturday at Ford Field followed by callbacks on Sunday. It will wrap up with a final round of tryouts and one-on-one interviews Monday.
Parkman was a member on Eastern Michigan’s dance team and spent the past three and a half years with the Detroit Pride, the Lions’ unofficial cheerleading team that formed in 2010. She will be one of several Detroit Pride Cheerleaders taking part in the tryouts.
“This is what the fans have wanted for years and they’re finally going to be able to enjoy it every time they're at the game," Parkman said.
“Pride fans always ask, ‘Why are you guys not on the field? Someday it's going to come and when it comes, you got to be ready. Now it's here and finally it's what the fans have been wanting."
It’s an opportunity Detroit Pride member Courtney Lawhead, 21, had been hoping for but never knew for certain it would arrive.
“Since I started with Pride (in 2014), I always wanted to work my way onto an NFL field and be out there cheering on the Lions,” said Lawhead, who is studying at Lansing Community College to be a surgical technician.
"It’ll just make the atmosphere more energetic and get the fans more pumped up. It gives them something to be excited about watching us dance and something at halftime that they can watch, as well."
The Detroit Lions Cheerleaders will be led by director Rebecca Girard-Smoker. She was dance team director with the Pistons and their team, “Automotion,” for 10 years.
For Parkman and Lawhead, becoming official NFL cheerleaders would complete a goal they've been striving for their entire lives.
“It would mean the absolute world to me. It would literally be a dream come true,” said Parkman. “I've been working so hard for this and it seems like now that's it's finally here in my hometown, this is my time to shine and this is my only shot.
“We've been dedicated to the Lions fans for years now and it’s finally exciting to give them what they've been waiting for for so long. Now that it's here, I'm ready for it."
Detroit Lions Cheerleaders tryouts
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
Details: Registration is $25. For more information, visit detroitlions.com/cheerleaders or call (313) 262-2300.