Leavey Center to Levi’s Stadium

To-do lists, copious calendar reminders, and meticulous planning: How Madison Steel ’22 balances dual careers in cybersecurity and as an NFL cheerleader.

Leavey Center to Levi’s Stadium
Madison Steel ’22 performing sideline cheers with Gold Rush at Levi's Stadium. Photos by Lindsay Rosenberg.

One year post-graduation, Madison Steel ’22 balances a dual career as a marketing specialist in cybersecurity and an NFL dancer for the San Francisco 49ers. With 20 years of dance experience, joining the Gold Rush dance team was Steel’s dream come true. “I have gained a group of loving and supportive people who I know will have my back through the highs and lows of life,” says Steel.

Steel began dancing jazz, contemporary, ballet, and tap when she was 3 years old. She remembers trying on her first pair of pointe shoes at the age of 10 and feeling like she “hit the jackpot.”

Making the Gold Rush was one of her biggest accomplishments as she has “always admired NFL cheerleaders and the hard work they do on and off the field through charity work and engaging with fans,” says Steel.

On game days, Steel arrives at Levi’s Stadium six hours before kickoff to run through choreography, make media appearances, and do a final warmup as a team before hitting the field. The Gold Rush dancers perform a pregame routine, two quarter break routines, and an occasional halftime routine. Steel also dances on the sidelines throughout the entire game, cheering on the 49ers, which she calls an “absolute blast.”

Madison Steel ‘22 representing the Gold Rush dance team in their official uniform.

Along with dancing, Steel balances a full-time marketing job at AttackIQ, a cybersecurity company that helps organizations test the effectiveness of their security controls to prevent data breaches.

“It’s easy to let things become overwhelming during football season. I’m someone who has always been very organized and loves all things calendars, planners, and to-do lists, so luckily this busy dual career has given me the opportunity to put these skills to the test,” says Steel.

Steel attributes her current success to her time at Santa Clara as it marks her growth as an individual. She gained confidence as a student and dancer, learned how to network, and became a stellar scheduler. “Without all of the teachers, dance studios and companies, friends and family,” she says, “I would not be a part of Gold Rush and living out my dream today.”

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