The Miami Dolphins Starbrites have represented the NFL’s Miami Dolphins football franchise since 1978, when they replaced the Dolphins Dolls cheerleading squads.
The Dolphins Starbrites are considered one of the most beautiful and glamorous cheerleading squads. These Miami cheerleaders have been featured on MTV, E! Entertainment Television, and in the pages of Maxim, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire.
Dolphins Dolls – Original Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders
The Dolphins played their first season in 1966, and a cheerleading squad has been supporting them from the beginning. Home games were originally played at the Orange Bowl, and the first squad of cheerleaders were known as the Dolphin Dolls.
This group was made up of 125 girls from ages eight to 18. Each week, 48 girls were chosen to cheer on the sidelines, while the rest would root for the Dolphins from seats in the endzone bleachers. This group was directed by Bill Allen, and they remained active until the end of the 1977 season.
Introducing the Starbrites
Major changes were introduced in 1978 by none other than team owner Joe Robbie. The Dolphin Starbrites were created, and open auditions were held. 30 women were selected from over 300 candidates.
The squad’s choreography was handled by June Taylor, an Emmy award-winner famous for her work with Jackie Gleason and his shows, Cavalcade of Stars and The Jackie Gleason Show.
The Starbrites uniforms were also changed, and the girls now wore go-go boots and one-piece bathing suits. A stage was set up on the Orange Bowl’s east endzone, and the girls would entertain the crowd with Broadway-style routines backed by a 22-piece brass band.
June Taylor would continue to serve as choreographer until 1990. After her retirement, she was replaced by Kathy Morton Shashaty, herself a four-year veteran of the Dolphins’ squad and assistant choreographer to Taylor. Shashaty updated the uniforms and abandoned the go-go boots in favor of more comfortable sneakers.
Dolphins Cheerleaders – More Changes in Store
The team was purchased by Wayne Huizenga in 1994, and a number of changes were in store for the cheerleading squad. The group was transformed into a more collegiate-style squad, and a co-ed element was added. Dorie Braddy, a veteran cheerleader with the Dallas Cowboys, was brought in to be the squad’s new director.
In 1997, the squad started producing an annual swimsuit calendar. Extremely popular with Dolphins’ fans, it has taken the girls to such exotic locales as the Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, the Bahamas and St. Thomas. In 2004, the calendar even featured Dolphins’ players for the first time.
By 2000, the squad’s look had once again changed. This time, a sleek and sexy look was emphasized, and the go-go boots were brought back out of retirement.
Their look changed once again in 2005, and Heather Phillips was brought in as the new Director of Cheerleaders. Emily Newton, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, was hired as the Cheerleader Coordinator. Trisia Brown, a veteran Dolphins Cheerleader, was also hired as the squad’s choreographer.
Famous Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders
While many of the team’s cheerleaders have went on to successful jobs in fields such as medicine, law and education, a few have also become known throughout the country. These include:
Shannon Ford – Miss Florida USA 2002
Brittany Freeman – Miss New Hampshire Teen USA 2004
Suzy Tavarez – Former radio personality for KIIS-FM in LA and featured in Playboy’s “Women of Radio" pictorial in 2005.
Potential Dolphins’ cheerleaders must be at least 18 years of age. There is no maximum age, but most Starbrites range from 18 to 35. Candidates must also attend school or hold full-time jobs. Auditions are held each spring.
Women selected to be cheerleaders will practice three to four nights per week for three to four hours per night. There’s no off-season, and practices are held year-round. Besides appearing at home games, Starbrites are also required to attend fairs, conventions, grand openings, and a number of other promotional events.
The squad also has a “Show Team" which travels around the globe performing a Broadway-style show for fans. They have performed for American troops in the Middle East, as well as appearing on such shows as the MTV Music Video Awards.
A Junior Cheerleading program is also offered for girls ages five to 15. This squad of youngsters gets to perform alongside the Starbrites at two home games, as well as appear at charity events, parades and other sporting events.