The Orlando Predators have updated the dance team section of their website. Click here to check out the Prowlers!
The Orlando Predators have updated the dance team section of their website. Click here to check out the Prowlers!
Thanks to Jackson for these photos of the Tampa Bay Storm Girls at last Saturday’s Pittsburgh-Tampa game.
The Georgia Force Cheerleaders pages have been updated! Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team. (Click on each headshot to view a full length photo).
I was finally caught up with photos, and then I went to Virginia on vacation for a week. On the Friday before Memorial Day, I caught up with the Philadelphia Soulmates at the Wells Fargo Center as the Soul defeated the visiting New Orleans VooDoo 70-49.
Continue reading Philadelphia Soulmates
Back on April 16th, I had the opportunity to see the wonderful Cleveland Goddesses in action at the Gladiators AFL game against the Voodoo, and was so pleased to be able to interview Dance Team Coordinator Kristen Bickel, and Goddesses Kristie, Elise, and Danielle. Here are a few more photos of the evening’s activities of the Goddesses, plus, there is a second important cheer team with loads of spirit, the Kickoff Crew.
Plus, for this Saturday’s game on March 21st, the Goddesses are supporting the the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women.” See their video:
Prior to the Glads-Voodoo game last month, the Goddesses circulated to meet fans in the concourses prior to the game, including encountering a sizable lion.
The Kickoff Crew rose to the occassion, and enthusiastically showed their precision at the main entrance gate of the Quicken Arena. Heather Zidek is the coordinator of the co-ed Kickoff Crew.
The Saberkittens are back from 2011, and this time, they’re golden. Literally!
In Cleveland, every spring, sometimes suddenly and without warning, an event occurs that is so cherished: the first bright, sunshiny, warm-ish day; aka, the first “nice day!” See, spring happens everywhere, but after months of snow and gray skies, there is a special rejuvenation when it happens in Cleveland. For example, Kristie, one of the Goddesses dance team that performs for the AFL’s Cleveland Gladiators, says, “Cleveland goes crazy when there are the first nice days of spring. Everyone’s windows are down blaring music, and downtown restaurants open their patios. I usually head down to one of them with my friends to hang out and enjoy the nice weather. I also like to go for a walk around town with my iPod!” Goddess Elise concurs, “There is nothing better than the first warm day in Cleveland! I don’t have many days off for outdoor activities, so I’m excited not to freeze while I’m walking to work from the parking lot! When I do get extra time I love to run or hike the trails in Cleveland’s Metroparks.”
But, luckily for Clevelanders, even if Old Man Winter takes his sweet time moving out of town, the Goddesses brighten and heat things up during the spring at Quicken Arena. Kristie has been on the Goddesses since their beginning, remembering, “I tried out for Goddess back in 2008 when the team first came to Cleveland. I heard about the team from another dancer. I really did not have much experience auditioning, and did not know what to expect. I was pretty shocked that I made the squad! I was fresh out of high school competing against girls who had far more experience than I did. The experience has been unforgettable and amazing. I’ve met great groups of girls that are hard working and share the same passion as I do. Even the game itself is incredible!”
Rookie Goddess Elise is experiencing this excitement for the first time. Elise’s impetus to join was, “I tried out for the Goddesses because my dance friend, Alyssa, has been on the team for two years. I would see all of her pictures on Facebook, and it looked like she was having so much fun! I have always wanted to be a part of a professional dance team, so I saw this as an awesome opportunity. I was so excited to make the team, almost instantly we all became great friends. It has been so amazing to work with such great dancers; everyone on the team is so talented. The whole experience has been surreal. I have never been a part of something that is so much fun with such great people. All of the hard work we put into it is worth it.”
Elise’s surreal experience included those first moments stepping on to the field, as she recalls, “Being on the field for the first time was unreal. The day before the first game, I got so nervous because I had never performed on turf before. On the day of the first game I started to get very excited, and by the time we ran through the tunnel and onto the field, I couldn’t believe that it was actually happening! After we performed and stood on the field watching the hype video, I had chills. The fans cheering in the stands, the lights, the smoke, the players, the whole atmosphere was unreal! At that point I was so excited and proud of my dance team. We had made it to the first game.”
Veteran Kristie can relate, remembering her first game, “As you’re standing there ready to go out on the field for the first time, the emotions are endless. I was so excited to be able to perform and do what I love in front of thousands of people. There is so much anticipation building up to that first game. All of your hard work pre-season is about to be laid out there for everyone to see. Along with being excited, I was a nervous wreck! There were so many things running through my mind. Do I remember all of the choreography? Am I going to mess up? And most importantly, does my hair look okay?! Once you are on the field everything kind of falls in place.”
Kristie is a lifelong Clevelander, from the eastern suburbs, and Elise is from a small town to the south. Kristie says, “My favorite thing to do in Cleveland is go to all of the sports games. Cleveland is such a sports town. Everything runs off of game schedules and the fans are so passionate, it’s mind-blowing. Win or lose, our stadiums are always packed with fans.” Elise connects her favorite times to her new friends, “My favorite thing to do in Cleveland is to go to Sushi Rock or Barley House for a night of fun with the Goddesses!”
The road to Goddess-hood started for Kristie in athletics, as she recalls, “I originally started out as a gymnast. The floor exercise was my favorite, because of the dance involved. I went and saw my cousin’s dance recital and begged to be signed up for hip- hop and jazz classes. In order to strengthen my technique, I took ballet class. I started competing nationally and regionally for my dance studio. I instantly fell in love with it and the rest is history! I also cheered for my high school football team.”
A family connection was also part of the dance genesis for Elise, saying, “I have been dancing since the age of three, when my mom worked at a local studio. She started me in classes right away. As a little girl, I participated in dance competitions but I eventually grew out of it. When I was a preteen I enrolled in a pre-professional ballet school. I belonged to a Youth Ballet Company all through middle school and high school. While I was with the youth ballet, I had so many awesome opportunities and even danced with the Cincinnati Ballet when they came to Cleveland!” Recently, Elise had a wonderful experience in the Big Apple, fondly recalling, “This past summer I was had the opportunity to intern with Broadway Dance Center in New York City. I lived in Manhattan for the whole summer while taking classes everyday at BDC. It was the most invaluable experience of my dance career. I love NYC and feel like it is my second home. Maybe one day I will be able to live there for good!”
Continue reading Goddesses Elise and Kristie Spring into Action, Heating Up the Sidelines for the AFL’s Cleveland Gladiators
After a year off the Arena Bowl Dream Team is back. Each team will have a representative at Arena Bowl XXIV. Hopefuls have been narrowed down to two dancers from each team, and now the fans get a chance to have their say.
See all the candidates and cast your votes here.
At eight-thirty in the morning on a Saturday in downtown Cleveland, the streets were quiet and unoccupied, with the exception of a group of people gathered outside an entrance to the arena. It was one of those Cleveland spring days, rotating sun and sudden rainy downpours, with one constant, wind! So, the waiting girls, plus a sprinkling of parents, huddled in circles, but with eyes wide open wondering what the morning would bring to prepare for a performance that night. All were happy when the arena doors opened and the wind swept them into the arena’s entryways. The group of pre-teen and teen young women was starting a long, busy, and exciting day at Quicken Arena. It was the morning of the Jr. Goddesses Clinic, which would prepare these girls to perform on the field later that night with some of the Goddesses, the dance squad for the AFL’s Cleveland Gladiators. Three of the Goddesses, Danielle, Heather, and Angela, plus Dance Team Coordinator Kristen Bickel, braved the early morning winds to lead the clinic which prepared the Jr. Goddesses for their performance at the Gladiators game against the New Orleans Voodoo, on April 16th.
Rather than to the field, the young dancers were escorted to the Cavaliers’ practice court. It was also a very busy day for Quicken Arena and its staff. On the previous night, the “Q” hosted a concert, then a hockey playoff game was inserted for noon on Saturday, overlapping with an Indians game across the street at 1 pm. Then the arena football set-up would follow to prepare for a 7:30 kickoff between the Gladiators and Voodoo, only then to prepare for another hockey game for noon on Sunday. Over a couple days, the arena changed as much inside as the weather varied outside.
Once they arrived at the court, first, the Jr. Goddesses received the tops that they would wear for the performance. Afterward, the girls took to the court, and Goddess Heather started them stretching, and then some initial movements. Although she is from an area of Ohio without sports teams near by so that she had this type of opportunity when she was younger, Heather has taught dance before and was a natural at easing the girls out of their initial early morning induced quietness, with a conversational style and some activity to get their blood flowing. It wouldn’t be long before the Jr. Goddesses were relaxed and talkative. The Cavs practice court probably felt initially warm and cozy, but it did not take long for the active dancers to feel the reality; it was HOT in there! At one point when asked if there were any questions, one Jr. Goddess asked the obvious, “Is there any air conditioning in here?”
Ready to rock the beat, the Jr. Goddesses were anxious to start practicing the routine, and Danielle of the Goddesses began showing them the steps with short segment by segment instructions. Danielle choreographed the routine that the Jr. Goddesses would perform, and selected the song, Willow Smith’s “21st Century Girl.” Looking for inspiration, Danielle went to Radio Disney to listen for songs and selected Willow’s for the performance. The Jr. Goddesses interest in dance and performing is mirrored in Danielle’s interest in being a Goddess, as she says, “I tried out for the Goddesses because I love to dance and I thought this would be a great experience. I was so happy and excited when I made the team. Performing is my favorite thing to do.” And the people around her are pretty happy about her being a Goddess too, as Danielle related, “My family and friends were excited for me when I made the team and everyone asks for tickets.”
Danielle is a college student, balancing school with her responsibilities as a Goddess, “I study psychology and sociology at The University of Akron. I also work on campus. I have scheduled my classes around practices and games. I am also able to make my work schedule so that it does not interfere.”
On this day, Danielle was teaching while the clinic participants paid close attention. Danielle went through each of the segments which was followed by the Jr. Goddesses doing a few run-throughs. Not only were the girls being junior dancers, a few were also “junior choreographers,” with lots of their own ideas for the routine. Danielle and Heather performed in front so the Jr. Goddesses so they could keep their eyes on their moves, and Angela eased into the back rows of the formation so she could help out and watch the progress. Angela could identify with their day, as she had the opportunity to perform at a Cavaliers’ NBA game as a high school freshman with her cheer team.
Danielle was a nice match to be Jr. Goddess choreographer, because she shared some attributes with the younger squad. Danielle can relate to the experience that the Jr. Goddesses were having, as she also danced from an early age, saying, “My mom put me in dance classes with my cousin when I was three years old and I have been dancing ever since. I cheered and danced in high school, and before doing Goddesses, I had been on my college dance team.” And Danielle’s personality matches some of the Jr. Goddesses, saying, “I may be outgoing while in my uniform, but outside of the team I am pretty shy.” Danielle said that right before the performance, some of the Jr. Goddesses were quite talkative, but that some of that may have been nerves, another feeling she can relate to, as Danielle says, “I am always nervous right before a performance. The nerves are what gives me the energy I need!”
Continue reading AFL Goddess Danielle Provides 21st Century Choreography for Cleveland’s Jr. Goddesses
Oh, those gods and goddesses from Greek mythology had such drama-filled existences. They even had a goddess of chaos and discord (Eris, that trouble maker). By comparison, the Cleveland Goddesses seem to be quite happy, enjoying every minute of cheering and dancing for the AFL’s Cleveland Gladiators, and bonding into a close-knit squad. Those Greek goddesses could have used Kristen Bickel, who runs the Cleveland Goddesses, around to rid themselves of all of the chaos and drama. If Kristen was in charge of those goddesses of yore, her background and psychology degree surely would have made Mount Olympus a more harmonious place (suitable for the goddess Harmonia, even).
It is obvious if one spends any time with the Goddesses that Kristen and the squad are having a great time, but you can also hear it from the Goddesses themselves. Goddess Danielle says, “So far the experience has been amazing, I love all the girls on the team.” Elise seconds the motion, “I have never been a part of something that is so much fun with such great people.” Kristie agrees, “The experience has been unforgettable and amazing. I’ve met great groups of girls that are hard working and share the same passion as I do.” There has never been a more joyful group of goddesses than Kristen’s Goddesses.
For a sports lover like Kristen, it is appropriate that she is a native of football crazy Ohio, relating, “I was born and raised in Ohio. For ten years of my life, I lived in a small, rural town in southern Ohio, until high school when I moved back to the Akron, Ohio area.” Sports have provided a foundation in Kristen’s life from early on. Kristen recalls, “My mother told me I was always bouncing around and doing cartwheels down the aisles of groceries stores. I do not think she had a choice but to enroll me in gymnastics. I started that around the age of six or seven. Growing up, I was a very athletic person. I played soccer, softball, and ran track. If there was a girl’s football team, I would probably have done that as well! I am a huge sports fan and that is where my other love lies besides dance.” Sports even entered into Kristen’s field of study, saying, “I attended the University of Akron, and after changing my major many times, I settled on psychology with an emphasis on sports psychology.”
With a gymnastics background, Kristen “added dance to the mix at age 8. From there I knew dance is what I would be doing for a very long time.” Kristen continues, “I was in competition dance from about the age of nine until I graduated high school. I knew I would miss it so much that I still danced for my studio the first year of my freshman year of college.” Some of the highlights of Kristen’s early dance experience include, “At the age of thirteen, I was picked from a national dance competition to attend a summer intensive/performing group in Branson, Missouri, and Las Vegas, Nevada. That was an experience of a lifetime, learning from top choreographers! After that, I knew I had something special to offer the dance world. After graduating high school, I did compete for one more year, but then realized I had to move on and reach out to more opportunities.”
The next step for Kristen was jumping to the big NBA stage of dancing for Cleveland’s Cavalier Girls. Kristen says, “I needed to expand my dance career, and trying out for my college’s dance team just did not interest me. I wanted to do something bigger! I remembered my experience attending a Jr. Cavaliers camp the year before and I thought, what better way to combine my two loves, sports and dance!” When Kristen first participated in the Jr. Cavalier program, she was seventeen, and was immediately encouraged to try-out for the Cavs Girls when she turned eighteen. Kristen eventually took their advice, recalling, “I auditioned when I was nineteen and made the squad! I was so excited but somewhat intimidated as well with a whole new experience I did not know about. I was one of youngest on the team, so I was very shy about half of the first season. Once I felt comfortable, I knew I was in the right place of my career. I never performed in front of that many people before so opening night was quite an experience, but of course I loved it!”
Being part of the Cavalier Girls provided a world of opportunities for Kristen, as she says, “I was a Cavalier Girl for three seasons and a captain for the last two. The memories that stick out the most were when I had the opportunity to travel the world; to Iraq, Kuwait, and China. In September of 2006, we were chosen to go on tour for our troops in Iraq and Kuwait. Of course, our families were hesitant to let us go while there was a war going on, but with enough re-assurance that we were in good hands, everything went very smoothly. For two weeks, we traveled from base to base entertaining and signing autographs for our troops. I cannot explain how much gratitude these men and women showed us. They needed just a little aspect of the States to uplift their spirits while fighting for their country. It was the most fulfilling experience I have had to date and I would go back in a second!”
The whirlwind tour continued once they returned from the Middle East for Kristen and the Cavalier Girls, as she recalls, “We came home from our troop tour for two to three days and had to go right back out there to China! We were exhausted but once again it was an experience of a lifetime. We were out there promoting the NBA and entertaining the crowds of China. The people were all so excited! Even though none of us spoke Chinese, you could tell by the expressions that they were grateful to have us there. Although the cuisine was not to our liking, we still tried all of the dishes put in front of us. They were very interesting to say the least! In our spare time we would go sightseeing and Cheng-Du is known for their pandas so of course we had to check them out!” Those memorable trips continue to motivate Kristen in her new role, as she says, “Both trips were unforgettable and I hope my Goddesses will one day be able to experience something like that as well!”
Kristen not only performed in Ohio and across the world with the Cavalier Girls, but she was also on the cover of the Cavalier Girls calendar, in a photo on a boat on Lake Erie. With wind and water all around, was it tough to get the perfect calendar shot on Lake Erie? Kristen replies, ”This was actually the second calendar I shot as a Cavalier girl, so by the second go around I felt a lot more comfortable shooting. Getting the shot actually was not that hard to get since I was inside and sitting in the ‘captain’s chair.’ I actually was a little bummed at the time because I felt like they did not take as much time on my shot as they did for some of the others, but I guess it went well enough for me to be put on the cover! I was so excited during our calendar release party I cried!”
Continue reading Mount Olympus Would Have Been a Lot More Fun with Kristen Bickel at the Helm: An Interview with the Coordinator of the AFL’s Cleveland Goddesses
By Allison Tubaugh
The New Orleans VooDoo hired Tamica Lee as the Director of the VooDoo Dolls, announced the front office on Wednesday morning.
Lee comes to the VooDoo with 15 years of choreography experience that includes three seasons of working with the University of New Orleans Privateer dance team from 2004-07. Lee is also the Director of Dance and Cheer Camps for Ky Cares Foundations, a role that she will continue to serve in.
“We are very pleased to have someone with Tamica’s background and experience in this role. She is first-class and a team player. Our Dolls will most definitely have a positive experience under her guidance, while also learning from one of the best at the same time,” said Dan Newman, owner of the New Orleans VooDoo.
In 2008, Lee was the choreographer for the Lifetime movie FAB Five where she arranged and ran all dance and cheer rehearsals for the entire movie. Lee also was selected for an E! Entertainment documentary in 2001 that was a reality series on her dance and professional life.
The New Orleans, La. native was also a New Orleans Saintsation for four years from 2001-05. All four years she served as a squad captain, while choreographing numerous pregame and halftime routines.
Her start in teaching and choreographing dance started at American All Stars in Mandeville, serving as a staff member from 1997-2003.
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