Cavalier Girl, and Miss Northern Ohio U.S.A., Elise, threw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game on Sunday, September 2nd at Progressive Field.
Cavalier Girl, and Miss Northern Ohio U.S.A., Elise, threw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game on Sunday, September 2nd at Progressive Field.
By Jim Mesko
For Becky Ciocca, it’s a dream come true.
The Green graduate and nursing student at the University of Akron tried out for and made the Cavaliers Girls Dance Team, which performs at all Cavaliers home games during time outs and half time. They also take part in various Cavaliers events and mingle with the crowd before games. The team is made up of 17 girls.
“I love it,” Becky said. “It is just great that it is considered a profession. It is awesome to be dancing for my job. What is really the best thing about it is to be dancing in front of everyone at the arena. It is really cool with all that experience at the NBA level.”
Getting on the dance team is the culmination of a lot of dedication and hard work. She started dancing after her father, Jim, suggested doing that instead of gymnastics.
“It was really getting expensive with costumes, traveling to shows, and entry fees, so we decided that getting involved with the theater would not be as expensive and time consuming,” Jim said. “Boy, were we wrong on that one.”
Becky was one of the regulars at the old Theatre 8:15. She performed in more than three dozen shows.
“Becky was one of the hardest workers I ever had,” said Diane Mehok, who directed and choreographed her in many performances. “She never complained, and if she missed a practice, Becky made it up on her own time. She took great pride in what she did. It didn’t matter if she was in the front, middle or back, she always did her best and gave a topnotch performance.”
Becky also helped others during rehearsal, and it was not uncommon for her to be seen helping younger cast members with their lines and dance routines.
While in high school, Becky made the dance team and also performed in various Green theater productions.
“She made coaching fun and easy,” said her coach, Wendy Shocklee. “She was always willing to try new things and came prepared to practice. Becky was one of those girls that I knew would be able to dance after high school. She had the whole package — beautiful technique, unbelievable stage presence and a positive attitude.”
After graduation, she went to the University of Akron on a nursing scholarship, but dancing was never far away from her thoughts. She made the Akron U Dance Team, then tried out for and made the Cleveland Gladiators Dance Team.
“One day my boyfriend suggested that I try out for the Cavaliers dance team, and I decided to give it a try, not thinking I would really have a chance,” Becky said. “I made the first cuts and then went through two weeks of auditions, practices and public appearances to see how we reacted with people and vice versa.”
After the last series of tryouts, Becky made the final cut.
“I wanted so badly to make it at that moment,” she said. “When I found out I had made it, I cried tears of joy. Making it was more exciting than I ever imagined. I really didn’t think I would be so exhilarated!
What is it like to be a Cavaliers Girl?
“You have to either have a job or be in school. I would say about half the girls are in school,” Becky said. “We don’t have weigh-ins, we are just expected to look and be healthy. We normally get to the arena three to four hours before a game. We practice our routines, make last-minute changes and get dressed. We have two main outfits, plus two more we can use. About an hour before the game starts, we go down to the main level and greet people and sign autographs. About the only downside is the long drive from here up to Cleveland.”
Her family is very supportive of her position on the Cavaliers.“My parents love it. My two brothers think it is really cool,” Becky said. “I can sometimes get them free tickets, but a lot of times they just come up to see me at a home game on their own. My grandparents haven’t had a chance to come up yet, though. I really appreciate all my family has done for me.”
Her parents go to many of the games to watch her.
“I am really proud of her,” said Becky’s mother, Ann, also a Green graduate. “She has gone so far from Green to Akron U, to the Gladiators and now the Cavaliers. I don’t know how she balances her studies with all this. But she manages. Sometimes she comes home, but I don’t get a chance to see her. I just see little piles of stuff she has left behind that I jokingly call ‘Becky sightings’.”
Jim shares his wife’s pride.
“I think her ability to perform in front of a large crowd of people has helped Becky develop into a young woman who interacts well with others,” he said. “To see the excitement on her face is so gratifying to me. Dancing is her love. And she interacts especially well with younger children. I think being a Cavaliers Girl is the culmination of her dreams.”
Perhaps, but Becky isn’t through performing yet.
“I would like to work on a cruise ship,” she said. “Or go to Los Angeles or New York and work in some bigger shows there.”
The 2012-2013 Cavalier Girl Calendar is almost ready to hit the stands, but before this fan-favorite pictorial goes to print, there’s one more shot that needs to be chosen! Cavalier Girls Kaela, Shelbie and Amber are this year’s Cover Girl finalists and they need fans’ support to help them land the coveted cover spread. Fans can vote today through Thursday, November 29th for their favorite dancer to be the face of one of the hottest selling items in the Cavaliers Team Shop and also to be entered for a chance to win awesome prizes. The 2012-13 Cover Girl will be revealed on Thursday, December 6th at the Cavalier Girl Calendar Launch Party at Sushi Rock in Beachwood, OH.
Fans that vote will automatically be entered to win a grand prize that includes VIP Access for them and up to three (3) guests to the 2012-2013 Cavalier Girl Calendar Launch Party; four (4) tickets to a 2012-13 Cavs game, four (4) autographed 2012-13 Cavalier Girl Calendars and the opportunity to take a photo with the Cavalier Girls on court! Ten (10) second prize winners will receive one (1) autographed 2012-13 Cavalier Girl Calendar. Vote today for your chance to win!
Yesterday I posted about the finalists for the 2012-13 Orlando Magic Dancers. Well, I have some more goodies for you today. There’s a lot of cool audition-related stuff on the Magic website, so make sure you check that out: There’s an interesting article, a photo gallery, Some cute trivia about the finalists, and loads of video.
Plus, there is still time to vote!
And finally, a little more scoop for you. I mentioned that finalist Tiffany was a Dolphins Cheerleader for four seasons.
There are also a few other notables in the finalist group:
Ashley S was a Miami Marlins Mermaid (unfortunately that team is defunct as of this year, so maybe this will be another chance for her to do some dancing)
Marissa was a member of City Girls, the dance team for Orlando City Soccer
Jamie was a Cleveland Cavalier Girl for seasons
We also have a veteran who is trying to make a comeback after a 4 year Hiatus. Candace was on the team from 2004-07, and retired in order to go after her nursing degree full force. Now she’s a full fledged R.N. and she wants back in. Her sister Heather has been a Magic Dancer for 2 seasons, and is also a finalist this year. If both Candace and Heather make it, it will be their first time to be on the team together at the same time, so fingers crossed for the two of them!
The Cavaliers have completed auditions for the 2012-13 Cavalier Girls and are almost ready to announce this season’s new dance team! For the first time ever, the team will host the Cavalier Girl Audition Finals (#CavsGirlsFinals) LIVE on Saturday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m. at BarRoom Cleveland (200 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44114). Hosted by Cavs In-Arena Announcer Olivier Sedra, the night of fun and entertainment is free for all fans. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
The 28 Cavalier Girl finalists will razzle and dazzle the crowd with the dance team’s signature classy-sexy moves that they have been rehearsing over the two weeks leading up to the audition finals. In front of a panel of guest judges and fans in attendance, each dancer, hoping to win a coveted spot in Cavalier Girl history, will perform a choreographed routine and round-off the competition with her hottest freestyle dance moves. In addition to the dance and performance portions of the audition, the women will model their best swimwear as a preview of the annual Cavalier Girls Calendar which will be released later this year and feature the 2012-13 dance team.
Throughout the night, fans will be invited to text and vote for their favorite Cavalier Girl finalists. In addition, there will be contests to win awesome Cavalier prizes and one lucky woman in attendance will win a glamorous “Gold’N Glam” Cavalier Girl-inspired makeover, provided by Cavalier Girl personal stylist Marlita Kinmon. The fabulous makeover results will be unveiled to fans that night.
Also, between performances, Access Cavaliers will bring fans the latest updates on the Cleveland Cavaliers with a recap of all the 2012 NBA Summer League action from Las Vegas. The auditions will culminate with the announcement of the new team and the dancers will make their official debut as the 2012-13 Cavalier Girls as they meet and greet with fans after the event.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have updated their dance team pages. Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team!
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 Tom Nader
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