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NHL Carolina Hurricanes Storm Squad
Photo used with permission of Carolina Hurricanes

The NHL Hurricanes Storm Squad was started in 1999 with the opening of the Entertainment and Sports arena. Although officially labeled a fan team their main job is to help motivate the the hockey fans at all the Hurricanes home games. They lead cheers and perform skits, as well as doing in-game promotions such as shirt slinging, contests, and handing out promotional items. The squad has become so popular and has grown over the years that they are now almost as well known as the players. As Brian Mehm, the Hurricanes Promotions and Fan Development Manager said "The fans love them and know them by name... it is wonderful to see how loved they are by everyone... women and men, kids and teenagers. We had 12 people interview last year and this year we have a waiting list over 80 strong!"

Although the look of the Storm Squad has transformed a bit through the years, their overall role has remained the same. Brian explains, "They used to wear very unflattering outfits and perform activities related to promotions, such as shirt slinging, etc... We decided to give them a bit more of an appealing and athletic look (both girls and guys!). We went to more fit pants and tops that the members of the team felt comfortable in, but were not trashy. The result was that these lovely people that we used as our fan team were now appreciated by our fans not only for their actions on the ice and in the stands, but are also seen as athletic and attractive." He also added, "I think that it is important for people to understand that what we are doing here works because of the environment that we are in... there are 3 of the nations top athletic programs for the NCAA within 20 minutes. People are used to the athletic cheerleader look so it was a natural fit for us. The important thing was to find something that was both comfortable and tasteful for the members of the squad, that would also be accepted by the fans. I have seen too many examples of lack of taste with these "type" of teams. It was very important for us not to portray that image with the wonderful family atmosphere that we have achieved here."

The squad consists of 16 men and women chosen for their athletic abilities and outgoing personalities. Candidates must be over 18 years old and committed to appearing at no less than 75% of the games. Tryouts are held in September of every year. See their site for more information.

So, what do you think? Are they Cheerleaders or not? - Take our poll.

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