Usually when the St. Louis Rams travel to Seattle, it is with the sole purpose of taking down the division rival Seahawks. But in October, the organization had a different purpose in venturing to the Northwest. Rams mascot, Rampage, and two members of the Rams’ cheerleading squad visited military men and women stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“The purpose of the trip was easy – to show support to the troops and their families,” Joint Base Lewis-McChord general manager Patrick McGhee said.
McGhee has been working with the Rams since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995. He has worked at three bases over that time and has arranged visits from Rams cheerleaders at each one. The relationship has continued to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Seattle, and the visit in mid-October marked the second time this year the Rams visited the base. Much was crammed into the group’s weekend visit.
Upon their arrival, the cheerleaders, Karielle and Taylor, and Rampage were treated to a tour of the fire station on base. Chief Dave Franklin gave the girls and Rampage a tour of the facilities, complete with a ride in a fire truck, and two unique opportunities that would be the envy of any five-year old – the chance to try on the firemen’s gear and the chance to spray the fire hose.
The Rams contingency also went bowling and spent much of the weekend interacting with the troops and their families. During the various meet and greets, the cheerleaders and Rampage signed autographs and posed for pictures with the various men and women. Despite being deep in rival territory, Rampage and the Rams cheerleaders still attracted a large crowd.
“There was a person wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey waiting in line to get an autograph from a Rams cheerleader,” McGhee said. “Even though they’re Rams cheerleaders, they draw fans of other teams. And that’s the biggest compliment you can get.”
McGhee started his program in 1989 and since then, his network has grown to 11 NFL teams. He arranges their visits to a variety of bases on the western half of the country. In addition to cheerleaders, he also schedules visits for various movie stars, singers and other celebrities. But ask his preference, and it is not a question.
“I would always prefer NFL cheerleaders over all the rest,” he said. “For one, they’re low maintenance. Two, they really show through their actions that they care about the troops. There’s no false front. That’s the biggest difference between cheerleaders and the big-name celebrities.”
He is particularly fond of the Rams. Not only does he have a long-standing relationship with the organization, but he appreciates their continuous efforts.
“It’s been a perfect relationship. The girls aren’t only smart, but they’ve got personalities,” McGhee said. “The bottom line is this – you can talk it, or you can walk it. And the girls walk it.”
Karielle, Taylor and Rampage all play a valuable role in creating and maintaining an exciting atmosphere in the Edward Jones Dome on game days. But they can be just as important in raising a group’s collective spirit off the field as well. Even when that happens to be in rival territory.
“Cheerleaders can be very powerful,” McGhee said. “They convey the image that the NFL needs. And more importantly, they take that brief moment of time to make somebody happy.”