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Former Hagerstown resident now a Seattle Seagal

Danielle McGarvey Wagner says she became an NFL cheerleader because she is a people person

January 08, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Danielle McGarvey Wagner is a Seagal  a cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks.
Submitted Photo

It's not about the money.

As an NFL cheerleader, she averages about $75 for each home game.

It's not about boredom.

With a degree in marketing, she owns her own business, is married and involved in the community.

She doesn't need to stand on the sidelines of a football field, energizing the crowd.

But she does — her face often featured on the stadium JumboTron after a team touchdown or a crushing sack, smiling with unshakable positivity.

She does it because she's a people person.

And it doesn't get better than cheering before 60,000 people in one of the loudest stadiums in professional sports.

Danielle McGarvey Wagner is a Seagal — a cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks, the unlikely winners of the NFC West with a 7-9 regular-season record.

Each home game, you'll find her pumping up the crowd in support of their team.

But thousands of miles away from Qwest Field, Wagner has her own supporters.

The 27-year-old is a former resident of Hagerstown and most of her family still resides in the Tri-State area.

"They're on the other side of the country, but they're still rooting for me, just as they did when I was a child," she said.

Wagner is the daughter of Brenda Dalton of Hagerstown and Tony and Martina McGarvey of Chambersburg, Pa.

She attended St. Mary Catholic School and graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 2001.

She then attended the College of Charleston and graduated from Towson University in 2005 with a business marketing degree.

Wagner said the road to becoming an NFL cheerleader wasn't one she expected to travel.

"It just sort of happened," she said.

A former Miss Washington County and Miss Teen Maryland, Wagner said she always enjoyed performing before the public.

She had taken classical ballet classes for about 17 years and was a member of the Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Company for six years.

She was about 15 when she started doing pageants, she said.

While some people dismiss such competitions, Wagner said they helped her build confidence and improve her talents and public speaking skills.

"As part of winning a pageant, I remember going to Washington County schools and talking about a subject I thought was important — teen violence," she said. "I learned a lot about myself and what I could accomplish during those years."

She also learned how supportive her family was.

"My sisters Briar Rose, who is now 16, and Cooper, who is 15, were always in the front row, holding up signs," she said. "They were my biggest fans."

While living in Hagerstown, Wagner met and married former Hagerstown Suns player Michael Wagner.

The couple later moved to Arizona, where he played baseball and she auditioned for and made the cheerleading squad for the Arizona Cardinals.

"I was thrilled," she said. "But the first game, I was a little nervous about going out in front of such a large crowd. Now, the sidelines feel like home."

Wagner was on the squad for a year when the couple made their move to Seattle, which is her husband's hometown.

"After a while, I really missed dancing," she said. "Dance has always been a such big part of my life. And I felt like I wasn't finished."

So she decided to try out for another NFL cheerleading squad — the Seagals.

"The auditions for cheerleading are really tough," she said. "In Seattle, there were about 300 women participating in tryouts. All of them were really good dancers, so I was lucky that I made it on the first try."

In addition to dance skills, Wagner said coaches look for personality.

"You have to have that certain pizzazz," she said. "Also, because you often represent the team at community events, you have to be polished and have good speaking skills."

Wagner said she has been with the Seagals for two years and the current group is particularly close.

"We're all supportive of each other and we're all friends," she said. "The camaraderie is very high."

When she is not cheering, Wagner said she is the owner of her own makeup business, following in the footsteps of her mother, Brenda Dalton, who is the owner of RoseBrooke Studio, a hair and makeup salon in Frederick, Md.

"She's definitely my biggest influence in opening my own business," she said. "She's one of my biggest influences, period."

Wagner said the playoff excitement over the past few weeks in Seattle has "been unbelievable" and she's thrilled to be a part of it.

"Most people thought the Seahawks wouldn't win their division — not with a losing record, she said. "But Seahawk fans weren't surprised. Almost everyone I talked to knew they would do it. The team always puts up a good fight."

On Saturday, the team hosted the New Orleans Saints — last year's Super Bowl champions — in an NFC wild-card game.

"We didn't do well the last time we played them," Wagner said. "But now, they have to come to our house, where the fans are the 12th man and it gets really loud. Crazier things have happened."

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