CINCINNATI — The desire to dance has led a New Bremen native from her local dance studio to the stage of the Super Bowl.
Chloe Schwartz, a 2017 graduate of New Bremen High School and a 2021 graduate of the University of Cincinnati, just completed her rookie year with the Cincinnati Ben-Gals dance squad.
“I was a cheerleader and member of a competitive dancing team at Boyd Dance Studio in New Bremen,” said Schwartz. “I also danced for three years at the University of Cincinnati. I had a good background in dance in high school and college and that prepared me for the Ben-Gals tryouts.”
Schwartz said her senior year of dance at the University of Cincinnati was lost to COVID-19. She knew she wasn’t ready to end her dance career so she decided to try out for the Ben-Gals.
“I went back and forth with the way COVID took,” she said. “I knew I wanted to continue my dance career. Since I grew up in this area, I was always a Bengals fun and I thought it would be fun to tryout. I wasn’t ready to stop dancing so I was so grateful for this opportunity.
The tryout process was conducted over a three week period, said Schwartz.
“There was a first round of cuts and then a two week process where we learned a choreographed routine,” she said. “There was a public audition where we did the routine all together.”
Those trying out were then broken down into groups of two and they performed the routine together. At the end of the program, each person was asked questions about why they were trying out.
“We had to wait a week to see if we made the team,” said Schwartz. “it was totally nerve-wracking.”
On the day the team was announced, she found out at 5 p.m. she had made the squad.
“I kept refreshing the roster page,” said Schwartz. “They sent us and email and I was fortunate enough to make the team. Then my face appeared on the roster page.”
Schwartz said she and her best friend tried out for the squad and were together they when they received word they had both made the squad.
Squad members then began practicing for the upcoming football season. They practiced twice week — Tuesdays and Thursdays. If something special was happening, extra practices were held. The weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, the squad practiced every night.
“I was exhausted. I was working and then going to practice,” she said. Schwartz is a nurse in the transplant unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Squad members, she said, are asked to do various events during the year. That could include golf outings, hospital visits and holding babies at the hospital who were wearing Bengals onesies.
“We only do home football games, and I work the weekends at the hospital, so it’s nice to have some weekends off” she said.
Game day begins at 7 a.m. when the squad members arrive at Paul Brown Stadium. After getting their bags checked, they head to the locker room and get prepared for the game. They’ll go to one of the clubs to practice and then go out onto the field for practice. They work on their pregame dance, sideline dances and quarter dances.
After some downtime and stopping for lunch, the group runs through the routines in the locker room. They then get prepared for the game and get their uniforms on.
As they prepare to enter the stadium, “Let’s Get Loud” is played and the squad members walk out in lines to the cheers of the fans.
“There’s so much energy in the stadium,” she said. “Everyone is so exited for us to come out during the player intros. Then we go to one of the sides of the field. After each quarter, we switch sides.
“My parents are my No. 1 fans and they were at the games. So no matter where they were sitting, I new they’d see me during one quarter. If they weren’t there, it would break my heart. it makes me so happy when they’re there.”
Her parents, Joan and Mark Schwartz, were able to attend the Super Bowl to see their Bengals and Ben-Gals perform.
During the first playoff game, which was held at Paul Brown Stadium, they all knew that could be the final game of the season “unless the team went to the Super Bowl.”
“We kept saying we need to win two more games,” said Schwartz. “As a group we watched the away playoff games because we didn’t go to them. We’d do a Zoom call to celebrate together.”
When the Bengals played the Kansas City Chiefs in the championship game, Schwartz said it was a complete repeat of when they had played them during the regular season.
“We all collapsed when Evan McPherson made the field goal. It was a surreal moment … We were going to the Super Bowl,” she said.
The squad members began practicing every night as they prepared to go to the Super Bowl. They left the Thursday before the game on Sunday because “COVID canceled some of the events in California.”
“We were able to go to the pep rally on Monday in Cincinnati. The most passionate Bengals fans in this city came together together in an unimaginable way,” she said. “There were a swarm of fans there when the players came home. It was so amazing.”
While in California, the squad members went to separate events associated with the Super Bowl. Schwartz was on “Inside Edition” and danced with Cheryl Burke from “Dancing with the Stars.”
“We’d have a full morning practice,” she said. “We got everything together for game day on Friday. We went to the NFL Experience which was neat to see. They had helmets, other teams’ jerseys and locker setups there.’
Squad members appeared on “Good morning America” and “Fox and Friends” and then was able to see the stadium.
“We’d get up at 2 or 3 a.m. to be prepared for the event. The news shows go on very early in the morning.”
On game day, they wee able to sleep in until 6 a.m. Wearing matching Bengals dresses, they were bused to the stadium to prepare for the game.
“Security was with us and we went in through the VIP entrance,” she said. “The stadium was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. There were purple and pink colors throughout it.
“We went to the locker room and they fed us. They treated us super great.”
Schwartz said they felt like they were home when Paul Brown Stadium was shown on the screen in the stadium.
“When our boys walked out, it felt so right,” she said. “We all got to make the city proud. Someone told me that we had represented the city well. That made me so proud.
Because of COVID, the football players were kept in a “bubble” to keep them healthy. Some players did some of the events with the dance team members.
There are 29 members on the squad, she said. Twenty-six of them perform on the field, while the other three are alternates who perform on the stage at the games.
“There’s a friendly competition to see who the 26 will be,” said Swartz. “This made us all better dancers on the field.”
With the season over, Schwartz is preparing for the tryouts for the 2022 season.. Everyone tries out each year for the team, she said.
“Tryouts are coming fast and furious,” she said. “I’m excited for it. I’m thankful for my dance career. I love the city of Cincinnati.”
And who are Schwartz’ favorite players? Joe Burrow – “you can’t help but love him”; Joe Mixon – “he kills it out there”; and Sam Hubbard and Logan Wilson – ‘They know how to tackle the other guys.”
When she graduated from the University of Cincinnati, Schwartz interviewed for four different positions at the hospital. She was offered a job at each of the units but decided to work as a transplant nurse. The hospital does liver, kidney and pancreas transplants.
“We have some really sick people in our unit,” she sad. “I’m thankful for the team on the floor. They keep me going.”
Schwartz is part of the team that prepares the patient in pre-op. The patient then goes to surgery and the surgical ICU for a few days after surgery. The person then comes back to Swartz and her team for post transplant care.
“I thought my best option was the transplant unit,” she said “I’m really happy I chose that.”
Whether is dancing at a football game or helping a transplant recipient recover, Schwartz is 100% on her best game of the day and season.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.