Final tryouts for Eagles cheerleader hopefuls

Last night, a contestant vying for one of 38 spots on the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading squad was asked in front of a sold-out audience which reality TV show she would like to be on if she could choose.

With nine other young women standing beneath the blinding stage lights in a semicircle behind her, she calmly answered after a few seconds of internal debate.

"'Jersey Shore' - but not as one of the main characters," she said in a laudable show of on-the-spot diplomacy.

It's one of many traits women who make the squad will need, as Eagles cheerleaders participate in several community and national initiatives.

For a diverse group of 57 young women, Wednesday night was their last shot at making next year's squad. At 2 p.m. Thursday, they will call a hot line to hear whether they've been selected.

A few minutes onstage at the Suzanne Roberts Theater on South Broad Street in Center City was all each young woman had after pressing through a field of 400 for a spot on the squad.

Some contestants saw familiar faces in the group - for many, it was their second or third time trying out.

Connie Chung, a 23-year-old senior at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., tried out for a second time and said the dance competition left her slightly unsure of her standing with the judges.

"I gave it my all," the business administration and marketing student said after the competition. "I tried my best, hopefully my number is called."

Erica Dorsey, a third-year contestant from Mt. Laurel, N.J., circled the lobby after the competition hugging friends she made in the process, and reenacting a few of the dance moves she had to learn for the competition.

"It was really, really tense," Dorsey said, taking a break to hug another contestant wearing a cocktail dress and high heels.

"I performed, I didn't just dance. I feel pretty confident," Dorsey said, pausing to greet Rachel Mooney, another contestant trying out for the third time.

Mooney has been cheerleading for the Philadelphia Soul arena football team for three seasons, and was co-captain in the team's last season, which is an experience she said served her well in the competition.

"I always say it was kind of like doing my homework," Mooney said, surrounded by her mother Debbie, father Don and uncle Chris.

"I really, really want it," Mooney said, adding that she would probably have trouble calming down between the end of the competition and the 2 p.m. hot line call Thursday afternoon.