Local Cheerleaders Competing in the 2015 Miss California USA Pageant

Nearly 200 women from across California will be participating in this year’s MISS CALIFORNIA USA competition with the hopes of advancing to the national competitions. The winner of MISS CALIFORNIA USA® will go on to compete at the national MISS USA® competition which will be televised live on NBC.

This year, five current or former professional cheerleaders will be competing in the event.

Shelbi Buchholz – Miss Greater San Diego, San Diego Charger Girl
Chanelle Riggan – Miss Beverly Hills, Anaheim Duck Power Player
Jenny Ting – Miss Diamond Crest, Former Laker Girl and Charger Girl
Alexis Swanstrom – Miss Del Mar, Former Charger Girl
Brittany Wagner – Miss Universal City, Former Clippers Cheerleader and Ontario Fury Dancer

I have been fortunate to photograph four of these amazing women: Shelbi, Jenny, Alexis, and Brittany.





The MISS CALIFORNIA USA® pageant will be held in Long Beach, California at the Terrace Theater on January 9-11, 2015 and is open to the public. Tickets for all three pageant events are available via ticketmaster.com.

For more information on the Miss California USA pageant, please visit their website here.

Sports Illustrated NBA/NHL Features

Sports Illustrated has a few new feature galleries that are definitely worth checking out:

Click here for Brittney from the Phoenix Suns Dancers

Click here for Emmy from the Orlando Magic Dancers

Click here for the Washington Wizards Girls

Click here for the Anaheim Ducks Power Players

2013 Anaheim Ducks Power Players

Profiles and individual photos now online. Click here and check ‘em out!

Anaheim Ducks Ice Crew Calendar

NHL Roll Call: Anaheim Ducks Power Players

Click here to check out the 2012-13 Ducks ice crew!

Kara, Erika and Brittnei

Ducks’ Power Players bring heat to the ice

By Eric Stephens
The OC Register
July 8, 2012

ANAHEIM – As she walked toward the metal building and the goal that was inside, Ashley Abate didn’t hide her nervousness.

Abate was a member of the Ducks’ popular Power Players squad during the 2010-11 season but she took off a year to take on a new task – being a mom to her now 10-month-old baby girl Zoe.

Now it is time to get back in the action.

“The thing is, which I think it’s why I get nervous, it’s because you never know what all these awesome girls bring,” Abate said. “You never know who’s a better skater or who has the experience on camera or on the ice. You honestly just never know. Every girl here has a different strength.

“And that’s why you have to really make your personality show.”

Personality was on full display Saturday at Anaheim Ice as dozens of females took to the rink to show the judges that they’ve got the stuff to be part of the next group of Power Players for the 2012-13 season. Fourteen are ultimately chosen to make up the new team, which has a host of responsibilities during the NHL season.

The Power Players meet and greet fans during each Ducks home game, cleans up the Honda Center ice surface during stoppages in play and makes a number of appearances on behalf of the club in various community events.

Erica Johnson said she used the experience of being part of last year’s group to change her major at Cal State Fullerton to communications “because I just love talking to people and hearing their stories. It’s just changed me as a person and it’s made me want different things in life.”

Now a veteran, Johnson remembered how she felt the first time she auditioned for a gig she now loves.

“I love seeing all the new girls and the fresh faces,” Johnson said. “Just the people who are so excited to try out. Because I’m excited to try out every year so it’s nice to see there’s other people on the same level.”

Jennifer Dixon was trying out for the second time and thought she had “a better chance of getting noticed.” But she didn’t want to “jinx it.”

“I’m going to hope for the best,” said Dixon, 23, of Rancho Santa Margarita. “If I don’t make it, there’s always next year.”

Abate said the on-ice duties for the Power Players are harder than it looks even though she has to keep a smile on her face. But shoveling up after guys competing hard was just one part of something she’s hoping to get back to doing.

Besides, Abate wants to show that a mom can be sexy enough to appear in the Power Players’ swimsuit calendar.

“It was such a rush,” she said. “It was so amazing. Before games, all of a sudden you would see all the lights come on and you would hear the music. Everything would go dark and then you’d hear the music and see al the guys come out. And just that energy right there is the reason why I loved the job.

“The fans were amazing. It was the best part of the job. Seeing little kids smile and they’d come up to you and say, ‘I want to be like you. I want to be a Power Player. It was amazing.

“I felt like I was part of a family at the Honda Center. You’re so comfortable. And it’s just the best job on earth.”

Scenes from Power Player Auditions

Check out these links for photos from last weekend’s tryouts:

Anaheim Ducks

OC Register

SI.com: NHL Ice Crews

This week, Sports Illustrated has photos from just about every team that has Ice Girls: the Ducks, Bruins, Flames, Storm, Blackhawks, Bluejackets, Stars, Oilers, Kings, Panthers, Predators, Islanders, Flyers, Penguins, and Lightning. Click here to go there now.

2011-12 Power Players

The Anaheim Ducks have posted individual photos of the members of their Ice Crew! Click here to check ‘em out.

Ducks’ Power Players tryout heats up ice

By Eric Stephens
The Orange County Register
July 9, 2011

[Video and Photos]

ANAHEIM – The number of those trying out wasn’t quite as large as last summer’s record number but the energy and hope was just as plentiful among the dozens of young women that sought to become the next Power Player for the Ducks.

In all, there were 62 who started Saturday morning at Anaheim Ice dreaming to find their way onto the final 14-member squad.

Erica Averkieff, 23, is the mother of 10-month old son, Ericson, with her boyfriend and stroller in tow. The nights of cheerleading at Rancho Alamitos High on Friday nights propelled her to chase after a spot where she’d be cleaning up the Honda Center ice surface in front of thousands.

“Everyone can have the same talent but really, I think it’s your personality,” Averkieff said. “You’ve got to stand out. You’ve got to have spunk. You’ve got to make people notice you.

“Everyone can skate. But you’ve got to have personality. You’ve got to have something that people will remember you by.”

The Power Players not only maintain the ice surface during timeouts at Ducks’ home games but they entertain and interact with the fans in attendance while also making appearances in the community on behalf of the team. They’ll also appear in a swimsuit calendar that is sold in the team store and are featured prominently on the team’s website.

It doesn’t pay much – say $13 an hour – but it can also be an avenue to bigger and better things. Just ask Paula Abdul, the one-time famed Laker Girl.

SI.com: Anaheim Ducks Power Players

The latest addition to Sports Illustrated’s NHL Ice Crew galleries features the girls from the Pond at Anaheim. Click here to check out the Power Players on the ice!

NHL Ice Girls Gallery

NBC Sports has lots of photos of NHL Ice Girls on the ice this season. The gallery includes ice crews from the Blackhawks, Ducks, Flyers, Hurricanes, Islanders, Kings, Lightning, Oilers, Penguins, Predators, Stars, and Thrashers. (Mostly the Islanders Ice Girls and Thrashers Blue Crew.) Click here to check it out.


Ice Girls of the NHL

NBC Sports has added a ton of new photos to their NHL Ice Girl galleries. Click here to check ‘em out!


Meet the new Power Players

Marcia C. Smith, Columnist
The Orange County Register
August 26, 2009
[Photo Feature]

Nearly a month after 95 women besieged The Rinks Anaheim ICE to try out for the Ducks’ answer to the Laker Girls, the squad has named its final 14-member Power Player roster.

This was the most competitive tryout in Ducks’ history, drawing also triple the turnout of last season. Six veterans return, while eight rookies are welcomed for this part-time, in-game entertainment job that goes on duty every time the Ducks take the Honda Center ice.

It’s hard work, not to mention, cold work, given that the Power Players dress in low cut, form-fitting clothing that leaves their midsections exposed. Which means these women are in great shape – as well as have great hair and plenty of smiles.

For every game, a crew of Power Players skates onto the ice during breaks in the action, shoveling ice shavings out of the corners and away from the goals. Another crew travels through the Honda Center, interacting with fans for contests seen on the arena’s scoreboard big screen.

A typical night is about six hours. They each make about $13 an hour – and get free parking! But they get to be a part of the game they love and be close to their favorite hockey players, though rules prevent them from having any contact with the athletes.

All of this they learned at this week’s orientation.


Meet the Ducks’ Power Play girls


They are key component to the hockey-game experience and Honda Center entertainment.
Marcia C. Smith
The Orange County Register

Power  Players
ANAHEIM– The Ducks have their own version official cheerleaders – or chill leaders – and they don’t carry much in the way of pom-poms or even the weather-appropriate parkas.

Much like the cheer and dance teams of other professional sports teams, you can probably guess that the Ducks’ Power Players are young women, most in their early 20s, who are pleasantly perky, tastefully coiffed, minimally clothed, thin but healthy and, OK, hot enough to melt the ice.

Perhaps merely mentioning the attractive, man-catching qualities of the Power Players puts me in a faceoff with an ardent feminist. But their beauty – as well as their ability to ice skate, be kind to strangers and charm crowds – is part of how they landed this $13-an-hour seasonal job. (They get free parking too.)

Don’t hate them because their easy on the eyes in a sport in which the players have crooked noses, missing teeth and a scar where a left eyebrow use to be.

The Power Players have become part of the hockey-game experience, arena entertainment and the Ducks extended family. They have their own uniforms, their own dressing room (which they share with Wild Wing and the National Anthem singer), their own fans and fan mail, and their own page on the Ducks Web site.

“We’re part of the team,” said Lindsey, 22, a fifth-grade teacher in Orange County. “Probably the biggest misconception about us is that a lot of people think being a Power Player is our only job.”

Being a Power Player is a part-time job, whose shifts average about five hours every night the Ducks play a home game at the Honda Center. Ten “girls” – that’s their preferred label over the more workplace-neutral “ladies,” “women,” “females” or “Xena: Warrior Princesses” – work each game, with six helping maintain the ice and four roaming the bowl to interact with fans for in-game trivia contests and corporate promotions that are seen on the arena’s Diamond Vision scoreboard television.

The best skaters of each night’s crew are the ones fans see skate onto the ice during each timeout. While players are gliding back to the their benches, the Power Players stream from the Zamboni’s tunnel and scatter across the rink. One girl pushes an orange cart and five hold the shovels they’ll use to sweep and scoop up the ice that piles up around the goals, along the red lines and in front of the benches.

“We’ve got 90 seconds to get on and off the ice,” said Lindsey, in her third season with the 14-member squad. “I feel comfortable on skates because I grew up figure skating. But the first time I was out there, I was nervous in front of 15,000 people and worried that I would fall or drop the shovel or something.”

This is basically house/igloo cleaning, while wearing snug, black, low-cut halter tops with half-sleeves, thin black pants glittered by rhinestones and their own hockey skates. Even though they’re shoveling, they don’t get gloves.

But it’s not like they’re digging ditches, so nobody complains about sore backs from heavy lifting or callused palm. And not one of them feels like a sex kitten on skates.

“We’re all hockey fans, so it’s fun work, not labor, even though are uniforms are kind of, uh, form fitting,” said Jenn, 22, an Orange County physical therapist who pursuing a master’s degree in her field. “I played hockey for 11 years and four years in college (St. Mary’s University of Minnesota) and sometimes, I just want to get out there on the ice, grab a stick and try to score a goal.”

Jenn had no problem with last summer’s tryout at Anaheim ICE. About 30 turned out to compete for 14 spots to be ice candy. There was an application, an interview and a skating test in which judges rated each prospect on speed, balance, starting and stopping and on-ice personality.

“We couldn’t have them get on the ice if they looked like Bambi in tryouts,” said Sarah Montecinos, the Ducks’ entertainment coordinator who sets the Power Players schedule for games and community appearances. “All the girls can skate, but we put the best skaters on the ice.”

Though the Power Players aren’t using this gig to launch careers into acting, modeling or becoming a Laker or Charger Girl, they get more than navel exposure during games. The arena’s in-house TV cameras go to shots of the Power Players cheering and clapping after the Ducks’ goals or big plays. They also get some face time when, during timeouts and intermissions, they ask fans trivia questions to win prizes.

“Some fans know us by name,” said Lindsey. “They’re really sweet. We talk but we never get personal. It’s all professional.”

The Power Players have non-fraternization clauses in their contracts, limiting their personal interaction with Ducks players. They also use only their first names and give limited details about their off-ice lives for privacy reasons. For example, Lindsey can say she’s a schoolteacher and that she lives on Earth.

There’s more to these girls than their manicured outsides. They’ve got insides and non-hockey goals that aren’t all about rainbows and ponies. Nearly all the Power Players have a bachelor’s degree.

Alex wants a Ph.D. in art history and a career as a museum curator. Treana aspires to go into sports medicine. Tara wants to become a broadcast journalist. Amanda, a former figure skater, works as a phlebotomy technician, which means she draws blood with needles not high sticks. Laura has a master’s in history. Daniella, who is studying psychology, loves watching fights in hockey and wants to be a marriage counselor.

“This is one of the best jobs you can have if you’re a hockey fan,” said first-season Power Player Jenn, who holds a degree in biology. “I get to watch the game up close.”

Standing in the Zamboni tunnel awaiting the next timeout during the Ducks game last week against Vancouver, the Power Players embraced themselves and huddled close to keep themselves warm before their next shift.Then the door swung open and out the Power Players skated, legs gliding, shovels swinging and smiles frozen.