On October 23rd, longtime New England Patriots cheer coach and ambassador Tracy Sormanti posthumously became the first woman inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Her Legacy lives on through the abundance of people she touched throughout the years.
On December 4th, 2020 the New England Patriots Family sadly lost the Matriarch of our family, my coach, Tracy Sormanti. Just 58 years old, Tracy had courageously battled a form of multiple myeloma for three years.
Tracy spent her 58 years on this earth -32 of them with the New England Patriots- inspiring women, breaking barriers, and constantly bringing out the very best of those around her.
She did all of that and more this past October 23rd becoming the first woman enshrined into the Patriots HOF.
So much has been written, and will continue to be, about Tracy and her beautiful life.
The following is a collection of memories and moments, cherished forever, by some of us who would not be who we are if not for Tracy, her New England Patriots Cheerleading family.
Camille Kostek, 2013-14: “I have never met someone so dedicated to their passion that they dedicate their entire life to it. This woman accepting me onto her New England Patriots Cheerleading team in 2013 changed the trajectory of my entire life in countless ways that I could probably write a whole book about.”
Zoe Bucuvalas, 2013-17: Tracy changed the entire trajectory of my life. She facilitated my life long dream of becoming a Patriots Cheerleader. Because of Tracy I have the most incredible memories and one of a kind experiences. But above all I will forever be indebted to her for giving me my best friends, my sisters. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I’m thankful to her for making me part of her “Big Beautiful Circle”-for showing me love, support and guidance. Love you T.”
Julia Scaparotti, 2015-16: “For some reason, Tracy picked me as a rookie to lead cheerleaders and volunteers out on the field to hold field length banners for a hall of fame ceremony during halftime. I didn’t want to make a mistake, and during practice she told us at a certain time we start walking on the field. Well, when that time hit I started leading the charge, but ended up cutting off the whole Dolphins team from entering the visitors’ locker room. She yelled at me in the moment, but I think we laughed about it once a week after that. I always followed directions, and honestly thank god I did cut off the team or we wouldn’t have made it in time for our cue. Seeing Tracy laugh was always special.”
Leanne Santorsola, 2016-19; Adrena Santorsola, 2017-2019: “I am so grateful for my years with the New England Patriots Cheerleaders. Tracy not only saw something in me, but also in my sister, Adrena. She took both of us into the sisterhood and together we cheered from the sidelines as the Patriots made history! The memories made throughout those years will always be remembered, and for that. Thank you Tracy”
Kayla Brunson, 2015-19: “My favorite memory with Tracy has to be when she explained her planning process behind my pro bowl announcement. She told me that it was very important to keep it a surprise because she knew I would probably figure it out so she made it so over the top I wouldn’t guess it and she was right I had no idea it was coming and it is to this day my favorite moment on the team!”
Courtney Krauss, 2018-20: “From my first encounter as a perspective cheerleader, Tracy was encouraging and motherly. While I was somehow intimidated by her petite frame, we became close friends when I made the squad. Her passion for the organization was undeniable, and she pushed me in ways where I wasn’t aware growth was necessary. We laughed and cried together over two unforgettable seasons. When I called to tell her I was retiring from cheerleading to apply graduate school and asked for a letter of recommendation, she said that if I didn’t get into the grad program, she would personally make a trip down to Texas to tell them what a mistake they had made. She was a cheerleader for the cheerleaders and one of the biggest reasons I am a cheerleading coach today. I love you T. Thank you for pushing me and loving me always.”
Michelle Wince Abbruzzese, 2001: “Two memories stand out about my time as a Cheerleader under Tracy. The first is when our practice fell on Halloween. She allowed each line to dress up as a different theme. Then, she had us surprise the local neighbors as we knocked on the doors and with a “Trick or Treat”. The locals were excited to see the Patriots Cheerleaders in their doorsteps. My second favorite memory is when Tracy called my name for “Rookie of the Year”. I had worked so hard to be the best athlete I could be, and she recognized it. I was so shocked and honored that she felt I deserved that title. That moment will be with me for life.”
Kendall Pope, 2018-19: “Tracy made me work hard for four years to earn my spot on the team, each time leaving with a piece of advice and coming back to auditions with something new to offer not only the squad but growth within myself. While being selected for the 2018 calendar cover is something I’ll never forget, my favorite memory of Tracy is that she gave us all lifelong sisters & friends.”
Brianna Munoz, 2011, 2021: “Cheers to you in Heaven, Tracy. Thank you for believing in me 10 years ago when I first auditioned to become a Patriots Cheerleader and for your endless support throughout my senior year of college, dental school, residency, and beyond. Whether it was a secret wink in the unity circle or a pep talk before a photo shoot, you always made me feel loved, valued, and secure. You are the heart of this organization and the sole reason why I auditioned to be on the team again 10 years later. You have made such a profound impact on the Patriots community, and I am honored to call you my coach, mentor, and friend. You will always be “one of my favorite people”, and I am SO proud of you for being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. There is no one more deserving than you. NEPC forever. Love, ‘Munoz’”
Lori Chobanian (Baranski), 2003-06: “I had the pleasure of cheering for Tracy, traveling with her, working with her, becoming her friend and creating so many memories. I think the world knows she LOVED her cats, she was a loyal pats fan and cheerleading was life. What they may not know, is that Tracy was a genuinely beautiful soul. She greeted everyone with the same flawless smile- weather it was Mr. Kraft or the janitor. She had a way of making everyone in the room feel important and she made an impression on anyone she met. She truly loved learning all about anyone she encountered. Tracy’s last words were all about how lucky she was to have the experiences she did in life, but we are the lucky ones- to have known her and to forever keep precious memories of her in our hearts.”
Michaela Main, 2018-20: “Tracy was the catalyst for the person I have become, giving me some of the best memories and lessons in my three seasons. As most people who cheered for her were; I was equal parts afraid and in awe of her, and she knew it, but for this I’ll focus on the awe. Your rookie Super Bowl, if you are lucky to have one, is a memorable feat, especially with our organization. Tracy had a way of coordinating all the events, appearances and practices so her squad felt that they were experiencing something truly extraordinary, typically once in a lifetime if you are not from New England, but still making sure the job got done. Even on the toughest practices before the biggest performance, she managed to make everyone feel truly worthy and special. Unfortunately, not all Super Bowls can be won by the same team and for my rookie year we did not. As the likely result of the game became clear and the opposing team’s confetti flew into our face, my eyes were glued on Tracy. She still had a sparkle that shined through the whole stadium and stood with grace, she had so much poise in that moment to look disappointed enough from losing but still respectful to the winner. That is just who she was and how I’ll always remember her, strong but a light that sparkled in every room.”
Elizabeth Lopez Harlow, 1998-04: “I spent 6 incredible years as a Rookie, Veteran, Captain, Pro Bowl Cheerleader, and NEPC Ambassador overseas in Europe and the U.S. I still remember Tracy smiling at me from the stage at my first audition. She was the Director/Choreographer of the New England Patriots Cheerleaders, who became my new leader and friend. For 6 years, I was honored to be a part of the greatest NFL teams in history, and cheering on the Patriots to the first two Super Bowl wins (2001 and 2003 seasons). Tracy molded me into the person that I am today. She taught me to be disciplined, work hard, smile, be professional and make sure my nails and hair were done, at all times. Because of Tracy, I was given opportunities to volunteer for charitable organizations, visit hospitals and military troops in and out of the U.S. Thank you Tracy, for empowering me to be the strong woman I am today.”
Jenna Cloutier, 2016-2019: “The first memory I have of Tracy was when I attended a Junior Patriots Cheerleader camp as a young girl. I may not remember Tracy’s first words to me, but the feeling will stay with me forever. I was so captivated by her that the experience triggered me to become more determined and motivated than ever. My childhood dream magnified after meeting her.
Fast forward to the 2016 season audition, where Tracy came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder. Gratification and fear quickly turned to relief and excitement when Tracy said “Jenna, I am so happy you’re back”. She remembered me from boot camp the previous year. That day started my 4-year unforgettable journey of my dream thanks to Tracy. A journey not only full of surreal moments, but incredible life lessons, finding my best friends, and feeling empowered — thanks to Tracy.”
Mary Babbitt, 2014-17: “When I was five years old, my parents took me to Patriots training camp. Most people attend camp to see the football team practice, but we were there so I could meet the cheerleaders. That was the first time I met Tracy. I was so shy, but Tracy was so warm and welcoming and even let me sit on her lap for a bit while we greeted fans. 19 years later I was fortunate enough to be selected as a member of her squad. I can only hope that during my time on the squad I was able to give one young fan even half of the experience that Tracy gave to me. I’ll always be so grateful that Tracy allowed me this experience and made my childhood dream come true.”
Beth (Newton) Demars, 1999-01: “Tracy was the epitome of strength and dedication… a beautiful soul who guided us, believed in us and pushed us to dig deep within ourselves for the potential she saw in all of us. She emphasized so many life lessons, large and small. Whether it be about giving back to our communities off the field or something as simple as the importance of writing a thank you note, Tracy’s lessons have always stuck with me. ..and the friendships.. oh my goodness the friendships.. Tracy’s focus was beyond only choosing talent when it came to her teams. One of her many gifts was seeking out truly wonderful, kind women, whom I remain close friends with to this day, all thanks to her. Tracy made the experience of being a Patriots cheerleader one of the most memorable, amazing experiences of my life and I will forever be grateful for that.”
Heidi Fielek Spry, 2002-03: “Sitting in a sea of hopeful candidates, I remember Tracy calling my name to be the next member of the Patriots Cheerleading team. As a coach, she ran a tight ship. As a person, she was thoughtful and supportive. Seeing her smile as she watched us perform during games was the greatest compliment. Her pride in us always motivated me to strive to be a better version of myself and I will forever be grateful that I’m part of her legacy.”
Elizabeth (Hanson) Bennett, 2002-2004: “During a flight to Fort Hood, Texas, I was so excited I got to sit next to Tracy! She said something so powerful that it sparked a realization about how special and wonderful a coach I had in her. During a comfortable silence, she turned to me after she’d been gazing out of the window for several minutes. She said, “everytime I fly I look at the clouds and try to guess which one my mother would choose to sit on.” I was touched and told her how beautiful a statement that was, to which she responded, “I can’t believe I just said that out loud, I’m such a dork.” The fact that she could be so vulnerable and so humorous at once struck me as a powerful trait to have. By sharing, she made me feel loved, seen and valued, and I’ll always cherish this memory.”
Theresa Oei, 2016: “I remember interviewing with Tracy for the team on International Women’s Day and talking with her about the opportunity to be a part of a sisterhood of supportive, empowered women. She always fostered that culture among the team and was personally supportive of my dreams as a scientist whether I was doing science outreach events as a cheerleader or pursuing my career. She brought an incredible group of women into my life and I’ll always be thankful that she created her “big, beautiful circle” as we worked together and supported one another. I’ll always remember Tracy walking with us in the Super Bowl LI parade. There had been a miscommunication and our bus had gotten lost. We ended up missing our spot in the parade and followed at the end. There wasn’t enough space on the last duck boat so the rookies (including myself) all walked behind. Tracy knew we were disappointed but joined us in trudging through the slush and her bright presence and encouragement cheered us on throughout the parade. She really led by example and was always an advocate for the team.”
Ashley Herron, 2017-18: “Tracy was the epitome of a true coach. She made you feel enough fear to instill respect, but enough love to feel like you could pour your soul into whatever it was she wanted to pursue. But her pursuit was always for the best. That’s what she does – she brings out the best in each of us. She figures out the very boundary you need to push yourself to become your best self and then from there she has the ability to develop confidence and desire to maintain that same mantra for the rest of your life – fight to become and have the best while you learn to love and have gratitude for the present and all that you have in front of you. That’s a gift. Tracy was a gift. I’ll never forget her love. Hard love. But the type of love you can only find in very few and special people.”
Erika Tarlow, 2004-05: “Thinking back, I was flooded with so many memories, events, and moments we shared. This week I came across a bunch of forgotten email chains that we shared from 2005-2010. As I read each one, my eyes watered up and I was immediately transported back to those moments in time, just Tracy and I going back and forth chatting about life. In each note, Tracy showed so much love and kindness in her heart, she always said how much she thinks of me and how she’s always just a phone call or an email or a visit away. In one of her notes, Tracy said: I guarantee you could call any one of us at any time and pick up right where we left off. We’ve all shared such a unique experience; how many people can say they cheered for a Super Bowl champion team? Very few, and that makes us even closer – a family. Thank you, T for always being you, we are all so lucky to be a part of your family.”
Amber Koppen, 2003-06: “In 2006, some of my teammates and I went to Virginia to visit and perform for the sailors aboard the USS George Washington. Tracy told me that she would like me to MC the show for that trip. I politely declined, explaining that dancing in front of lots of people was one thing, but that speaking up there was just not something I could do. I went on and on about how nervous I get, etc. She just nodded her head and smiled… then handed me the script. She worked with me every single night until that show to help me prepare. Not only did she expect more from me than I did from myself, but she was willing to take the time to push me to be a better, stronger and more confident person. I am forever grateful to Tracy for that and for the hundreds of other ways that she has shaped my life as my mentor and my friend. ”
LisaMarie Bailey “LM” 2012-16: “Tracy had a special way of making each cheerleader feel unique and special. She creatively came up with nicknames for many of us (which I hope she knew) made us feel loved, accepted and important in her world. A world in which she had the opportunity to connect with numerous beautiful/handsome young women and men, she still always had a special way to make us feel memorable. She coached with tough love, pushing everyone to be their best, earning your extreme respect while simultaneously fearing her as a coach since we all wanted to genuinely please and make her proud.”
Sam Agyeman, 2017: “From the first day I met Tracy, she taught me how to push myself to become the best version of myself. When I tried out for the squad, I had 0 idea what I was getting myself into. When she had asked me, why she should put me on the squad, I let her know I knew I wasn’t the best but I will work on it to become the best. Tracy made sure I kept my word through on & off the field. She was there for me in more ways than one, & I will be forever grateful – Tracy truly changed my life.”
Alison Preston (now Mensching), 2002-06: “I was a young 19 year old when I met Coach Tracy… I cannot thank her enough for choosing me and helping me become the woman I am today. Tracy BELIEVED in me before I believed in myself. I am forever grateful for 4 amazing seasons with the Patriots organization. She made each one of us feel SO SPECIAL. I LOVED being a part of the Patriots Cheerleaders “big beautiful circle”! I hope my kids have someone as influential in their lives as she was in mine. Best coach and ‘meowmy’ out there. Cheers to back to back Superbowls, the Probowl 2005, our Operations Seasons Greetings tours, and the forever friendships that were made.”
Cassie Wheeler, 2003-06: “Tracy Sormanti changed my world. She saw something in me that I never would have seen. I was fortunate enough to have been chosen to be one of “her girls”. I was chosen by her to be “Rookie of the Year”, selected by her to travel overseas, and then as a line captain. I don’t ever say these things to brag. I am simply forever grateful that it was her who thought highly of me. I have never looked up to someone so much. In my eyes, she was the ultimate human. She was beautiful on the inside and gorgeous on the outside. Her work ethic was unmatched. Her dedication, compassion for animals, talent, sense of humor and kind spirit was like nobody else I had ever known. I looked up to her in every single way possible. Following my retirement, Tracy went on to become a dear friend. We celebrated baby showers together, weddings, double date nights and more. In life, I loved her so very much. Not a single day has gone by since she transitioned to heaven that I don’t think of her. Most days I shed a tear for her. My life and thousands of others lives were dramatically changed because of her. I still look up to her. There will always be a space in my heart dedicated to Tracy. I will love her forever.”
Belinda Wolf, 1997-98: “I wrote the following about Tracy and shared with her in 2018.. Tracy, I watch you. Your poise. Your stature. The way you interact with people. Your alumni. Your cheerleaders. The crowd. The way you are when you are sitting on the judge’s panel. Your smile. Your posture. Shoulders back and chin up.. making every person on stage feeling like they are the most important in the world. You have a power that no one could ever touch. The greatest part of being NEPC is that each of us won you. A woman that teaches us so many important things we use throughout our lives. Structure. Work ethic. Social skills. Friendships. Working as a team. And most importantly, never be late! You can be tough. But it’s your job. I know that I am a great coach because I use the qualities that you taught me. And I am sure the entire NEPC family you built feels the same.”
Anne Reardon, 1997-98: “Tracy’s impact on my life has been profound. I would not be the person I am today without being a Patriots cheerleader. 24 years later, I am still incredibly humbled and privileged to say she was my Coach. Auditioning and making the team was, by far, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It took me 5 years, but it was worth every minute. I like to refer to the Patriots’ cheerleaders’ program as a hardcore professional cheerleading bootcamp. Tracy was the Corporal, Choreographer, Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Image consultant, and Drill Sargent all wrapped up into one person. Though only about 5 feet tall, she was the ‘not messing around’ type of Coach. When she spoke, you stopped whatever you were doing and listened attentively. I say this with the utmost respect for her. She was easily the most dedicated, passionate, extensively organized, diligent, and meticulous Director and person I have ever met. She thought of everything to prepare us. She did not want any accolades herself, she only wanted us to be the best we could be, as an individual, and as a teammate. She instilled the importance of being accountable, punctual, kind, and most importantly, compassionate and beautiful on the inside. I’m grateful to say I’m involved with a few wonderful charities today because of her. She was right. The charity events were as memorable and as meaningful as cheering on the sidelines. Maybe even more so. Most importantly, I owe her an extreme debt of gratitude for the friendships I have from being on the team. They are absolutely irreplaceable to me.”
Vanessa Fattizzo, 2018-19: “One of my favorite memories of Tracy was a compliment that she had given me during a summer practice. We had just run a routine a few times and she was giving corrections. She said, ‘I want all of your kicks to look like Vanessa’s picture from training camp.’ It made me feel so seen and like I deserved to be a part of her squad. I still think about it every time I’m in a dance class. I feel like she always knew right when her dancers needed a ‘pick me up.'”
Drea Cadigan, 2016-19: “Tracy Sormanti was a coach like no other. Not ever in my life have I come across someone who was so dedicated to their job. Job doesn’t even seem like the right word to describe it. Being the director of the New England Patriots Cheerleaders was Tracy’s passion. I was fortunate enough to know Tracy from a young age. At 10 years old I enrolled in the junior Patriots Cheerleader clinics and met her for the first time, and well the rest is history. My favorite memory I have of her was in 2017 season when I dressed as Spongebob Sqaurepants for our Halloween game. I don’t think I have ever seen someone laugh as hard as she did at me. She pulled me aside that game to let me know how much joy that brought to her. After that game she started calling me Bob (after spongebob) and it stuck. The memory of her laughter is something I’ll always cherish. The team will never be the same without her, but us NEPC will do our best always to continue her legacy.”
The celebration and induction of Tracy into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame on Saturday October 23rd was a beautiful and fitting ceremony honoring our Coach.
So many wonderful memories, similar to the ones above, were shared by family, friends and colleagues of Tracy throughout the day.
Tracy’s longtime partner and best friend Dennis Brolin delivered a heartfelt induction speech enshrining Tracy, which BostonMan Magazine has been fortunate to receive the original copy of from Dennis.
Dennis Brolin, October 23, 2021, Tracy Sormanti HOF induction speech: “I would like to start by voicing my sincere gratitude to Mr. Kraft, Jonathan, and Dan Kraft for honoring such a remarkable woman,
Tracy, as most of us know, was a private person who dedicated most her life to an organization that she held in the highest regard. That being said, I could stand up here and tell you about everything Tracy has achieved, but that’s not what Tracy would have done. She would have told you about all of the accomplishments of this legendary organization and her team over the past 32 years.
She also would have thanked all the men and women for having the determination and fortitude to dedicate a portion of their lives to the most sought after cheer team in the NFL, the New England Patriots Cheerleaders.
I truly believe, and I’m sure every former cheerleader knew who started the sayings: “The Patriot Way” – “Do Your Job” – and “No Days Off”. These have always been part of Tracy’s program from day one.
Perfection in Tracy’s eyes was only as good as the last dance, last performance, and the last kick line. GET IT RIGHT or practice would never end.
Tracy was so much more than a coach. She was a mentor, a friend and sometimes a mom to all the men and women throughout the years. I can tell you, in the last three weeks of Tracy’s life, I read every letter that was sent to her. I was overwhelmed with the amount of respect and gratitude that was communicated in those letters.
Most of you stated that Tracy taught you more than just choreography. It was about life lessons: how important self-respect and the respect of others will allow you to achieve greatness everyday of your life. We all thank you Tracy for the many gifts you have given us and all the memories we will carry in our hearts forever.
I LOVE YOU TRAY. GO PATS!!”
A special thank you to the New England Patriots, NEPC, family, friends, colleagues and teammates who helped with this tribute to Tracy Sormanti by sharing their memories and pictures.