2017-07-04 / Front Page / JT Beacon

Wells native a new Patriot this Independence Day

By ED PIERCE
Executive Editor

WELLS -- Determination and talent has helped a graduate student from the Wells-Ogunquit area sail through a grueling six-week audition process and earn a place as a member of the 2017 New England Patriots Cheerleading squad.

Ashley Shultz attends Harvard University where she studies general management and works as a technology business-to-business marketing strategist. She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Miss Pink, a non-profit organization that supports breast cancer survivors across New England with basic medical and lifestyle needs like cleaning, meal preparation and delivery, childcare and transportation while they are undergoing treatment. 

She received her undergraduate degrees in biology and communications from Gordon College in Massachusetts and was named to that school's "50 Under 50” alumni list in 2015 for her nonprofit work. 

"What I want to accomplish the most during my time as a Patriots cheerleader is to always make the most of each experience I am given and to always be grateful for the opportunity to be on this team," Shultz said. "I feel very fortunate to have been selected for this squad and I will never lose sight of that. I also want to use this time to be able to further my work in the community. As a Patriots Cheerleader, we have the honor to be a part of so many community oriented events. I look forward to each one to come."

The daughter of Phil and Tina Herron of Wells, Shultz honed her cheerkleading skills at Wells High School under the direction of Sybil Coombs.  

The New England Patriots Cheerleaders rehearse twice a week and perform at all Patriots home football games. In addition to performing in front of capacity crowds at Gillette Stadium, a spot on the squad provides many exciting off-the-field opportunities, too.

As Patriots ambassadors, the cheerleaders regularly make appearances throughout New England, supporting numerous charitable organizations. Members of the squad are often offered opportunities for international travel, serving as goodwill ambassadors on trips to Mexico, China and the United Kingdom, as well as trips to more than 25 countries to visit active military deployed overseas.

She takes great pride in surviving the audition process to become a first-year Patriots cheerleader.

"It was an extremely difficult process," Shultz said. "It's a six-week audition filled with numerous routines, interviews, media training, physical fitness training with BMAX founder, Andy Berler, tests and more. Almost 500 women audition and each one has something special to offer. 

According to Shulktz, the Patriots Cheerleaders practice twice a week with practices range from four to eight hours at a time.

"We also make quite a few appearances, so the commitment is beyond just game days," she said. "It's my rookie year, so I have yet to experience an actual game day, but we need to be there several hours before a game." 

A few of her friends had become Patriots cheerleaders before Shultz thought about trying out.

"I watched them experience things I knew I wanted to be a part of. My friends introduced me to their team and when I was surrounded by each of these women, I was blown away with their kindness and supportiveness," she said. "They empowered each other and the community. Through their philanthropic endeavors to cheering for the best team in the NFL, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of."

With a rigorous and demanding schedule while cheering before more than a half-million fans during the fall, Shultz said she feels dedication and an ability to understand what it means to be a team player are the special traits she possesses that helped her become a Patriots cheerleader. 

"There are almost 500 women that tryout and it tests you mentally and physically. You have to see critiques as a learning opportunity and you have to know that everyone has something special or unique to offer," she said. "By focusing on becoming the best possible version of yourself and giving it your all will allow you to have the best audition experience. I only compared myself to myself and because of that, I was able to meet and make lifelong friends.

"The Patriots Cheerleaders are very team oriented and and will work hard to hold each other accountable to becoming the best version of themselves," Shultz said. "I am dedicated to my team and I am driven to work hard for them because they are doing the very same. We want the best for each other." 

Her friends have been beyond supportive, she said.

"After I decided I wanted to audition, they each took their own role in helping me in this journey. Whether it was getting up with me at 4 a.m. to practice or letting me borrow their clothes/audition outfits, they were all by my side in their own way. This made the experience that much more enjoyable and emotional for me. Knowing that they believed in me pushed me to believe in myself. It demonstrated how women who support each other can make great things happen."

Family also has been instrumental in helping Shultz achieve her dream.

"I have two brothers, Kyle and Stephen," she said. "I remember when I made the team, Stephen put up a very sentimental Facebook post stating how proud he was of me for continuing to pursue my dreams. He isn't the most vocal person when it comes to that, so this meant the world to me."

And despite so much of her time devoted to cheerleading, school and the Miss Pink organization this fall, Shultz said she's thrilled with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.   

"New England has the best fans, the best NFL team and having the opportunity to cheer for them this season is a dream come true," she said. 

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 326, or by email at editor@journaltribune.com.

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