Meet Paula Essam, South Korea’s First Foreign Cheerleader
D-Bo, May 4, 2015, 9:05 a.m.
Cheerleaders are becoming one of the essential parts of the experience of watching a baseball game. From the first row of the stands, they guide the crowd through cheers. Some of the most popular cheerleaders even have their own fan clubs. Paula Essam (21) is a new face this season as the first foreign cheerleader in Korea. She is an exchange student from Germany and has been studying at Korea University since August.
Essam was recruited as a cheerleader for the Doosan Bears in February, and has been cheerleading since the opening game in late March. "It's so thrilling to take a sellout crowd... on an exciting ride to go with my moves and dances. The electrifying atmosphere makes three to four hours pass quickly, as I completely soak in the mood of excitement along with the baseball fans. There is not even a moment to feel bored or tired," she said.
Essam knew nothing about the sport, but last September, while watching a game, she became fascinated by the spectacle of thousands of fans cheering on the players. It was the sight that piqued her interest in cheerleading.
The five to six hours of intense daily training required to be a cheerleader were grueling. Her whole body ached as she tried to keep up with the others, but she persevered as she wanted to look good in front of the thousands of fans. Whenever she missed a training session because of a class, she practiced at home watching videos.
Since her debut in the season's opening game against the NC Dinos on March 28, Essam has blended in well. "I hope the Doosan Bears win this year's Korean Series," Essam said. "I will keep cheering for the team if I go back to my country after finishing my studies here."