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