There are 46 players in a Patriots’ uniform for any given game, but behind the scenes there are nearly 5,000 workers at Gillette Stadium making sure everything goes smoothly for the more than 66,000 fans filling the stands. We talked to a half-dozen of those workers to get a peek into their gameday routines.
Gamedays sometimes seem easier than Karen Link’s hectic weekday schedule, which has her rushing from an early-morning workout to her fulltime PR job for a Boston tech firm and then to cheerleading practice at Gillette Stadium. Add in a team trainer and a nutritionist to give her year-round guidance and recommendations, and Link says she’s “set up for success” when she heads out to the field. The cheerleader, who started dancing at age 2 and overcame a broken spine in high school, passed a series of auditions and endured a two-week bootcamp to make the team in 2014. Now, she’s hooked on the sisterhood with her fellow cheerleaders: “I’ve formed some of the closest friendships I’ve ever had. We all keep in touch, some of us are roommates, and we attend each other’s birthdays, weddings and baby showers. It really is something special.”
5 hours till kickoff: Attend a full squad meeting at the stadium’s cheerleader building to discuss the day’s events.
4.5 hours till kickoff: Gameday practice begins. We do a long group stretch, run every end zone dance scheduled for the game and run every sideline dance or cheer that we have prepared for the game (usually at least 50). We also rehearse any obligations we have for special events planned for the game, such as holding field-sized flags for the Salute to Service game or forming a breast cancer awareness ribbon on the field with survivors.
2 hours till kickoff: After gameday practice concludes, we normally have an hour or so to have some down time. This is when we eat, do our hair and makeup, get in any final individual practice time and get dressed for the game.
1 hour till kickoff: After we are dressed and ready to go, we do a final group stretch, have our traditional Unity Circle—a pep talk with our director before the start of the game—and then hop on the golf carts and ride over to the stadium.
30 minutes till kickoff: We head onto the field, take our position on the sidelines and await our introduction.
15 minutes till kickoff: We dance our pregame routine, and then we form the player tunnel. The teams are then announced, the national anthem is performed, and then it’s finally show time.
Gametime: We perform four end zone dances during various breaks in the action. We also do shorter combinations that we perform between plays or during timeouts.