Page 74 - First Ladies of Football
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ALUMNI  Judge Eleanor Barnwell-Ross   In the mid-1980’s, Eleanor (Barnwell) Ross was a junior majoring in Journalism at American University in Washington, D.C., when a writing class assignment required her to do a feature story on a topic of her choice. Ross decided to write about what it took to become a Washington Redskins cheerleader. Love for the Redskins was in Ross’ DNA, as both her father, and older brother, had played saxophone in the Redskins’ marching band. Ross ended up auditioning herself, and made the cheerleader squad, with whom she performed for the next two years (1988 and 1989), until she left Washington, D.C. to attend law school in Houston, Texas. Following law school, Ross worked as a state and federal prosecutor, first in Texas, then in Atlanta, Georgia, where she moved in 1997. She met her husband of 18 years, Brian Ross at work, where they were both assistant district attorneys. In 2011, Ross was appointed by then Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to be a state court judge. In 2014, former President Barack Obama appointed Ross to be a federal judge in the ’88-’89 Northern District of Georgia, a lifetime appointment. Ross made history by becoming the first African American woman to be appointed to this court. Brian also became a judge, following his state court appointment in 2015. Affectionately dubbed by their colleagues as, “the Judges Ross,” Brian and Eleanor have two teenager daughters, who, in keeping with their mom’s cheerleader spirit, have participated nationally in competitive cheer/dance/ gymnastics events. Ross’ time as a Redskins cheerleader brings some of her fondest memories, leading her to constantly remind her friends that although she now considers herself a “Georgia Peach,” she will forever be a Washington Redskins fan at heart.          Makiko Nakayama ’02-’04 Makiko was the first International Cheerleader from Japan. She cheered for three years on the Redskins Cheerleaders and performed in multiple Military Appreciation tours overseas. After cheering she returned to Japan and established Cheering School in 2006 and Pop Ring English in 2017 to focus on children's education through building confidence, teamwork, English lessons and performance opportunities. She also works as a lecturer conducting business training for Japanese executives. For the past five years she brings her students for a US- Japanese Cultural exchange in dance with nonprofit, Capitol Movement, where they have been the lead banner bearer at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Makiko also travels with her cheer students to Washington DC in the fall to have them dance in front of a packed home crowd at FedEx field with over 200 other dancers as part of the Spirt Explosion halftime! Makiko continues to assist the Redskins organization as a finalist judge at the annual cheerleader tryouts and mentors other Japanese Cheerleaders that have followed in her footsteps on the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders.    

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