Backstage Pass: Clippers Spirit

A behind the scenes look at game day with the Clippers Spirit dance team! Click here to watch the video.

Miss these ladies ;-)

Video: Making the 2013-14 Clippers Spirit

More on “America’s Team”

Well, that’s what they look like, right? If there was an Olympics of pro cheerleading, this is exactly what Team USA would look like. (This plus a lot of sparkles.) And they would dominate. USA! USA! USA!

Seriously, we should send these ladies to the Olympics. And the UN, and international chess competitions, and things.

(FYI, these costumes were produced by our friend Terra Saunders’ company, Dallaswear.)

We first heard about this group when a UK reader emailed James a photo of this autograph card:

Click to view full size

Personally, I was aghast. How could this kind of thing be going on, and here I am, was completely unaware? Those of you who should have told me about this, and you know who you are, should be ashamed.

In my perfect world, every team would send me a copy of their upcoming appearances each month, but alas that is not the case. Thank goodness we can rely on you faithful ones out there to keep us in the loop.

I was immediately curious because I recognized most of the ladies in the photo. I thought it was strange that someone put together an independent team of cheerleaders to go London “coincidentally” the same time as the Vikings/Steelers game. After all, there were more than enough Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders to go around. Did somebody seriously think there was a cheerleader shortage in London? The MVC were everywhere!

So I did a little snooping around, and I think I’ve pieced it together. Here’s the skinny: the league is doing a month-long “Touchdown Tour” in London and south east England, with one stop in Birmingham (a working class town north of the capital). Every few years there’s a lot of hype about having an NFL team in the UK, and I guess this is part of the latest round of hoopla. And “hoopla,” by definition, includes cheerleaders. Or should. Cheerleaders, and a big truck with lots of merchandise, games, big important trophies, and cardboard cutouts of famous football players.

I gather that the league hired e2k to produce a team of red, white, and blue cheerleaders to support the tour. E2k, for those who don’t know, is the company that produces the Charger Girls and the 49ers GoldRush. (Unlike other teams in the league, the Chargers and 49ers contract out instead of producing their own in-house dance teams. So the ladies who direct those teams are e2k employees, rather than employees of the NFL franchise.) E2k also produces the Pro Bowl Cheerleaders every year. So that’s why it was logical to have e2k produce this touring group.

Sidebar: the NFL doesn’t seem to realize it, but they are alienating the heck out everyone who resides more than half a day outside of London. The Scots, the Welsh, everyone north of Birmingham, they all feel rather insulted that the NFL isn’t bothering with them at all. I say ‘suck it up, Brits.’ I can tell you, as a resident of Los Angeles, that you’ll eventually get used to being ignored by the NFL. (Ignored, misled, used as a pawn…need I continue?)

Cheer Team USA consists of eight NFL Cheerleader alumni, five from the San Diego Charger Girls and three from the San Francisco 49ers GoldRush. I don’t know how they chose these particular eight. I’m sure tons of women wanted to go. (Free trip to England!) But I doubt that many could afford to take off an entire month for the tour, so no doubt that narrowed the field more than a little. And of course, they had to have eight who are still in fighting shape and still have (or can acquire) long, flowing cheerleader hair. So here’s who they chose:

(Note: although there are seven women in the team photo, there are eight in the group.)

San Diego Charger Girls, 2010-11, 2012-13

San Diego Charger Girls, 2010-12

San Diego Charger Girls, 2010-13
Los Angeles Clippers Spirit, 2008-10

San Diego Charger Girls, 2010-13

San Francisco 49ers GoldRush, 2010-12

San Francisco 49ers GoldRush, 2011-13

San Francisco 49ers GoldRush, 2009-12

San Diego Charger Girls, 2007-10

I’m not sure what this group’s exact name is, but on Twitter, they call themselves the “NFL All Star Team.” That’s a little misleading, but I don’t suppose “NFL Alumni Cheerleaders” has the same ring to it.

I went looking for photos of this group and hit the jackpot on Flickr. God Bless the interwebs!

Click here for 5DII (aka Bill’s) gallery
Click here for Jordi Corbilla’s gallery
Click here for Flakker’s gallery (HUGE collection that also includes many excellent photos of the Vikings Cheerleaders)
Click here for Dave Pearce’s gallery
Click here for Mark Andrews’ gallery
Click here for Tony Grimes’ gallery
Click here for Niz Mohamed’s gallery

This photo is from the Tony Grimes collection.
From left: Rachel, Megan, Marissa, Amanda, Vanesa, Lauren, Myka, and Emma.

Almost all of the photos I found are from the group’s performance at the big rally on Regent Street in the heart of London last month. What you will notice immediately is that a good 75% of the photos are pictures of Amanda. I figure there are a few possible reasons for this.
(A) She’s got some sort of mojo that causes every photographer to fall under her spell
(B) She was all “Outta my way biatches. I’M the star here”
(C) The ladies danced in a relatively tight formation that put Amanda dead center more often than not.
(D) She just happened to be in the spot where the light was best. Considering most of the other girls were in shadow, I’m going with this one. I’m guessing she couldn’t see a thing with that light in her face.

This one's from Niz

The team is under the direction of E2K producer Lindsay Rosenberg. Los Angelenos may recognize her as an alum of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit. Perhaps she was chosen for this gig because she is already familiar with the color scheme. (Hardy har har.)

Lindsay retired from the Clippers in 2007 and has gone on to do all sorts of other cool and exciting things in the entertainment industry. In fact, I recall correctly, she was in Iron Man 2, as one of the “Ironettes.” I never saw the movie, but I can only surmise from photos that the Ironettes were pretty badass.

With one game down and one to go, the tour still has a couple of weeks left. Their last stop is a tailgate event back at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Oct 27th, when the Jaguars host the 49ers. Both of those teams have their own cheerleaders, so get ready for poms out the wazoo.

In addition to that, the league has announced that next year, there will be THREE regular season NFL games at Wembley. I’m sure some sort of tour will hit the road next year as well. And where there’s an NFL tour, there are cheerleaders. I for one, will be keeping an eye out for the red, white, and blue. I hope none of those games involve the Patriots, Texans, or Bills, because all that red, white, and blue would be powerful confusin’. Not that the British know the difference. That weekend, every cheerleader was a Vikings Cheerleader.

2013 Clippers Spirit Photo Shoot

The Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dance team had their annual photoshoot a couple of Sundays ago. I love photo day. I’m always fascinated to see how it all comes together. And – if I may be selfish for just a moment – I enjoy it because it’s my chance to get to know everyone a little better, in an environment where they’re not all stressed out because the judges have been gone for hours, or because pregame is in five minutes.

This year, there are 17 ladies on the team, 12 veterans and five rookies. I still can’t get over that. I was really worried during auditions, trying to figure out which veteran(s) would be cut. The fact that they all made it, made my day. My week even.

Back: Shannon, Tatum, Becca, Brittany, and Leisha
Front: Jacy, Karissa, Kellie, Sara, Ashley, Kelsey, and Candace

Brooke, Natalie, Traci, Brianna, and Leiana

On photo day, all of the veterans were scheduled to go first. That surprised me. I thought for sure it would be the rookies. Isn’t that extra hour of sleep on a Sunday morning one of the perks of tenure? But maybe the veterans were meant to set an example.

One of the girls already there was Shannon, who decided to paint her nails while she was waiting for her turn. I could not believe it when I saw her whip out that little bottle of bright red nail polish. Was she nuts? Who does their nails (bright red, I might add) right before she has to (a) get undressed, (b) get re-dressed, (c) in something small and tight, and (d) brightwhite! Where (e) there was every chance she’d smear on herself. That’s not asking for trouble, that’s begging for it.

Who does that?

Shannon is an interesting gal. I had a totally different impression of her three years ago, when she first made the team. She was just a quiet little mouse in the corner. Never said a word. She flew so far under the radar, I had to dig and dig and dig to find even a couple of photos of her. Now I know I was way off the mark back then.


Allow me to direct your attention to the combat boots. Enough said.

If I need someone to stand on one foot, cross her eyes, and recite all fifty states in backwards order, Shannon will be on Rhode Island before I’m finished asking the question. Of course, with this particular group of young ladies, Shannon would not be doing it by herself. There’d be four or five of them, wobbling on one foot, racing to see who could get to Alabama first.

I blame Brittney for this team’s whole attitude. As the senior veteran on the team, she’s supposed to set an example. And she does. Great dancer, fabulous performer, very approachable, very responsible…and goofy as hell. *cough*instigator*cough*. And it’s contagious.

I’m keeping one eye on Brittney this season. She has come up with this harebrained theory that if you’re on a team more than six years, upon completion of the sixth year, the cheer dial rotates backward a few clicks and resets you to rookie status.

I’ve heard of born-again Christians, and born-again virgins. I have never ever heard of a born-again rookie, and Brittany isn’t the first one. I explained this to her, but she didn’t listen. I know this, because every time I tried to take a photo of the rookies, there was Brittney, elbowing her way in. I am concerned she is on the verge of a truly spectacular quarter-life crisis.

Planking with Brittany

FYI: a word of wisdom from Brittney. If you insist on wearing your clip-in weave to the airport, prepare to be stopped by security. When the team was on the way to China, they pulled her aside and did a pat-down on her head. Her HEAD. Look at her! Does it look like there’s room in there for box cutters and plastic explosives?

Then you have Sara. Sara’s taste is rather…ahem…eclectic. She is running around in these insane flowery stretch pants, a skeleton sweatshirt, and Transformer socks.

According to my sources, Sara, used to have black hair. Black as night. Black as a raven’s wing. Black as…well I supposed you all know what black is. I forgot to ask if she was full-on goth or what. For some reason, I have no difficulty picturing it. My mental Goth-Sara looks like Wednesday Aadams. Although I doubt Wednesday spends all day playing football on her Ipad.

Another one to keep your eye on is Brittney Jr. Candace. Hard to believe those two aren’t related. (They aren’t. I checked. Had to. They have the same last name, so I had questions.) They certainly behave like they were hatched from adjacent eggs.

Gina does Candace’s hair

I hear Candace has a friend making an array of jaunty little hair bows to coordinate with her Clippers costumes this year. So get ready for that. Although I don’t know if it’s possible to be truly prepared for anything Candace does. Or says. Or thinks. But I enjoy her. And not just because she showed up for the shoot with an old school hard-bonnet hair dryer, and hustled that bad boy up the long flight of stairs like it weighed nothing at all.

The shoot was a little different this year, because it was only the Clippettes. Usually there are other people there.

(I probably shouldn’t call them that. If the Clippers organization started calling them that, it would annoy me greatly. But I have to call them something. “Clippers Spirit” is a single entity. A collective. Like the Borg. “Clippettes” on the other hand, are individual people. Besides, there aren’t that many decent alternatives. “Clippers Girls” has two many S’s and it sounds like they have something to do with cutting hair or making topiaries. “Spirit Girls” doesn’t work. That sounds like they do séances and speak in tongues, and I haven’t seen any evidence of that)

Usually all of the Clippers entertainment groups do their shoot on the same day. In addition to the Clippettes, there’s the Fan Patrol, the Crowd Crew, the Fast Break Crew, the Junior Jam, and the dunk team, and whoever else I’ve left off the list. It’s a lot of people. Especially when the Junior Jam is included, because the parents come with. And this is LA, so I’m sure you can imagine how it goes down. Every mom is busy signaling her kid to move a little closer to front and center. For the most part, they try to be good and let Audrea (Chief-Chick-In-Charge) of all these groups) direct the shoot, but some of them just can’t keep it to themselves. (Smile bigger! Look happy! Stand up straight! No no no…your other left!)

There was no Fan Patrol this year because their auditions hadn’t happened yet. Since they’d have to do their shoot later, and since the Clippettes usually take up most of the photo shoot time (with their individual photos, costume changes, and whatnot) it probably makes sense for them to do their shoot separately. So it was a smaller, quieter group this year. Quiet except for the stereo system swinging wildly back and forth between Rihanna and old-school New Edition. (“Ronnie, Bobbie, Ricky and Mike, if I like the girl who cares who you like?” That never gets old.)

This year the individual photos were done in a cute little spaghetti strap top with matching v-front shorts. I did a little survey and the general consensus was that it’s one of their favorite costumes. Although perhaps there could be a little more oomph in the cleavage department. (Hey, I didn’t say it. I’m just reporting.) Personally, I think it’s fine the way it is.

Rookie action with Nat, Leiana, Brooke, and Brianna.

Besides, there’s more than enough sexy in those boots. The pointy white boots continue to frighten me. I haven’t quite figured out why that this. The red ones are just as pointy, but they don’t scare me.

Sara’s boots fit like galoshes. Tee hee.
It’s like Bambi in go-go boots.

I pondered briefly whether those white boots would be less scary if they added some of those new logo boot cuffs. I didn’t really come to any consensus on that. Although the three of us (me, myself, and I) would like to see those boots in Clippers blue. I don’t know if they come in Clippers blue, but we would like to see that. We had a whole long conversation about it. Mostly I’m glad the girls don’t dance in those boots. Ok they did one time, but I’m hoping that’s a one-off.

Note to self: Check and see if there’s a name for that particular shade of Clippers blue. You know, like how the Philadelphia Eagles have “Midnight Green,” and the Detroit Lions have “Honolulu Blue”. Maybe that’s an NFL thing. But don’t the Celtics have “Celtics Green.” Or am I making that up? I feel like “Clippers Blue!” could be a real thing.

All of the girls did their individual shots first. I think this is the first year (or the first in a long time) that they’ve used the traditional blue (Clippers Blue!) background for the individuals. Usually that’s just for the team shot. Although using a colored background can make it more difficult to cut the girls away from the background for various photoshop projects (posters, banners, and whatnot) it looks really good. They had a red backdrop in 2007. That was pretty nice too, but the blue (Clippers Blue!) is better. Sets off that touch of blue in their outfits.

One of the most amusing parts of the day was watching Brittney get coached on how to do sexyface for her photo. C’mon Brittney. This is year seven. Let’s try something different this year! This was a hoot, because Brittney is one of those people who is just cannot take herself seriously. She’s a person who laughs a lot. (She works at Disneyland, for Pete’s sake.) And trying to do sultry just makes her (and the rest of us) laugh harder.

She’s trying…

Some girls are just naturally able to do the “well hello there hotstuff” face. Miss Brittney ain’t one of them. But she’s not alone. Based on my informed observation, there appears to be an inverse relationship between sexyface and the inherent wackiness of your personality. The more you have of the latter, the less accomplished you are with the former. And if you have dimples, you might as well fugeddabout it entirely.

For what it’s worth, Brittney did manage to pull it off, at least once that I saw.

Let me explain what goes on at these photo shoots: three things
(1) Texting
(2) Taking crazy photos of each other
(3) Texting crazy photos of each other to each other.

They start off taking a photo of themselves with their friends, all purtied up and fluffed and puffed. They send that to the boyfriend, and the bestie, and mom and dad. That lasts for about half a minute. Once that’s taken care of, the goofy photos start, each one of them trying to look crazier than all the others. These are the photos they text to each other.

Roll call. Blondes represent!

These girls spend all morning making crazy faces at each other’s cameras…until it’s their turn at bat. At that point, it’s all business. After all, they are going to have to live with these photos for a whooooole year, if not the rest of their lives. Lucky for them Audrea is one of those directors who lets the girls look at the shots, so they can understand what they are being asked to adjust in the poses or facial expressions. Some directors don’t allow the girls to see photos. (I can support that approach too, by the way. Oy vay with the “OMG I look fat, can I have a do-over?” As if.)

Honestly, what did people do before the digital camera was invented?

Strike that. I know exactly what they did. They took the photo and hoped for the best. And that’s one of the reasons why vintage cheerleader photos are some of my favoritest things in the world.

If I may go off-topic for a moment…There was one year when the Dallas Cowboys photographed every cheerleader in the same pose, with one hand behind her back. Looked like an entire squad of one-handed cheerleaders. (I’m not saying the word “amputee”, but I’m thinking it.)

Neeeeever would’ve happened in the age of digital photography. Amiright? You know I am.

Sidebar: Do you recognize the hottie on the top left? Yes indeed, that is Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
Director Kelli Finglass (McGonagill at the time) circa 1988, doing WERK.
And the bottom right is Leslie Ezelle from HG tv’s “Design Star.”)

I’m all about the girl with the shower pouf on her head. Ssssassy!

The other thing the girls do while they wait is practice their poses. I will be honest, when I first got acquainted with this industry, the concept of practicing for a photo shoot struck me as possibly the most vapid activity ever. Alls you gotta do is stand there with your hip stuck out to the side and smile for the camera. This requires actual practice?

Well, yes. Yes it does. Because what happens is this – and I’ve seen it a bunch of times – girl steps in front of the camera. Girls mind goes blank. It’s the same thing that happens during finals, when everyone shows up with an idea of what to do for their solo, and then forgets every last bit of it. Only in this case, there’s someone standing there, reminding you what to do.

Still, it does help to think about it a little beforehand. The veterans have the advantage knowing exactly what they did and did not like about their photo the year before. Often they’ll want to make sure they do something different from previous years.

I had an interesting chat with Becca about this topic. Becca is an alumni Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader. The Cardinals squad often incorporates poms, or a football, or a football helmet in their cheerleader photos. In a situation like that, there are so many cheerleaders, and only so many things they can do with a helmet or a football, so they run out of poses. Eventually, somebody winds up sitting on a helmet.

I expect sitting on a helmet and not looking like your butt hurts takes a certain amount of skill.

Personally, I have three poses that I hate and really can’t stand. Whenever I’m at a shoot and I see any of these three poses happening, I do whatever I have to do to make it stop. Because they look stupid. I’m sorry, but they do. And friends do not let friends take stupid looking photos.

You’ve seen them all before: (a) the invisible table, (b) the dead arm, and (c) the gimmie gimme/pointy pointy. I don’t see them very often, but when I do, there’s an automatic eye roll. (Apologies to those in the photos, but this is for educational purposes.)

Honestly, I’d rather see you whip out one of those old school dance recital poses than the invisible table. I mean, what is your hand resting on? Nothing! There is nothing there. So knock it off already.

While they are doing all of this taking of photos and practicing of poses, the veterans are puttering around in their official Clippers terry robes with their names embroidered on them.

I’m not sure if the robe thing is an every year thing or just a last year thing, but the veterans have them, and the rookies don’t.

I certainly appreciated Kelsey going the extra mile with the slippers and the socks.

Paging Hugh Hefner, you’re needed on set.

Speaking of robes, let’s discuss Leiana. Leiana who spent most of the trotting around in a little magenta/purplish robe like a Victoria’s Secret model backstage before the big show. (I happen to enjoy magenta. It’ts my favorite color, so whatever she wants to do in that robe is a-ok with me.) Leiana recently got engaged to a young man named Adam who she loves very much. (Or maybe it was Alex. It was definitely something with an A.) I knew I should’ve written this down.

Congratulations! They are getting hitched in September of next year, and so far, her mom is doing most of the ground work for the wedding. Smart girl. Weddings are a pain in the butt.

Moving on…this here is Brianna. Just between you and me, I have beef with Brianna.

I have beef with Brianna, because she’s a ringer, and nobody will admit it. This girl showed up at auditions like she’d been through it a million times. Went through it like a champ. Danced with confidence. Behaved like she was actually enjoying the audition process.

I was more than a little suspicious, and went directly home after the open call, to look through all my files and figure out where this girl came from.

I did not find her. I asked Audrea, but even Audrea didn’t give up the goods.

So at the photo shoot, I marched right up to Brianna and asked what other pro teams shed been on. Do you know what that girl said to me? Looked me right in the eye and said NONE. Told me she’d just graduated from high school.

That’s your story, huh? Ok fine, if that’s how you’re going to be. But I’m on to you, sister. I’m going to find you out. And then I’m going to tell everyone how you’ve been dancing professionally in the European basketball league or whatever for the last five years.

Meanwhile, take a look at Brianna with Karissa.

The resemblance isn’t close enough to be a “separated at birth” situation, but I feel like both of them need to have a conversation with Mom and Dad. I would not be surprised at all if it was like that movie where the parents had been married and had kids but then they divorced and they hated each other, so each one of them took a child and they never spoke to each other again…until the girls ran into each other at summer camp.

(Wait a sec…I think that was “The Parent Trap.” Whatever. Still valid.)

I am extremely excited that two of my former ChivaGirls, Natalie, and Traci, have joined the team this year.

Natalie, if you may remember is a “reality tv starrrrr.” She was on one season or another of Survivor, and FYI, that whole experience completely wrecked her metabolism, if you really want to know the truth. (The only reason I know this is because I was shameless eavesdropping on her a while back.) She doesn’t usually talk about it unless you ask. She’s not one of those annoying “I’ve been on tv, so now I’m SOMEBODY types” that annoy the crap out of me. I’ve never asked her about this because I refuse to be a little Natalie fangirl, but I do have questions. I’ve heard a little about how she just sort of fell into it. She was 18 or 19 and said why the heck not? This was a few years ago, before reality shows got wise and started actively recruiting professional cheerleaders/dancers/ice girls.

She’s a great girl, and a great dancer, that Natalie. She’s good people. That’s what’s important about her.

Traci was the very last person to do her individual photo, and so she was the last one to spend quality time staring at the ceiling. Did I tell you about this? No? Ok, so there is a giant ceiling fan in the studio. At some point, Audrea turned it on, to give the girls’ hair a little bit of life. (Note to self: next year, bring small fan for hair-wafting purposes.) In order to get the exact right amount of breeze to lift, but not actually disturb the hair, the Clippette had to be very precisely positioned beneath the fan.

And as morning turned into afternoon, the angle of the sun changed, creating a strobe-like effect on the dancer’s lower body, so there was that to account for as well. So there was a lot of this going on during the shot.

It’s a wonder nobody jacked up their neck.

So Traci stared at the ceiling for a while, and then had a photo taken, and that was the end of the solo photos.

She got out of the way so the camera guys could reset their equipment for a wide shot. Meanwhile, all the girls were changing into their outfits for the team photo. They also changed into the less-frightening red boots.

There is some rhyme and reason as to where people are placed in the group photo. But I wasn’t playing close enough attention to know what it was. They somehow establish the girls in three rows, and then there was some shuffling around in order to achieve the perfect composition. You have to take the goldilocks approach and move people around until it’s “just right.”

I don’t know how the girls in the middle row were chosen, but I felt sorry for them. Nobody ever wants to be a kneeler. It hurts. Sometimes a lot.

Strike that, I do know why they were in the middle row, and I guess now they know to be a little nicer next time they see me. (Ha ha, wouldn’t that be the best? “Kellie, you cheated me out of the last spot in the lot. I had to park on the street and I didn’t have any change for the meter. For that, you’re in the middle row. Shannon, you blocked me on Twitter last week. Get over there next to Kellie. Mwhahahahahahaha…”)

The team shot is always fun because everyone is SO ready to be finished with the whole production. The dancers are usually a little punchy due to lack of food. That’s why this sort of thing happens:

Usually by the time the team shot is ready to go, the dancers have solid plans (and reservations!) for wherever they’re going to load up on carbs afterward. I heard a lot of conversation about Olive Garden’s Endless Pasta Bowl.

Glad it’s over! Can we eat now?

But now it has a been a few weeks, and some of the results of the shoot have been revealed. The team photo came out the next day. The first set of headshots just came out the other day. Click here to check out the team. I couldn’t be prouder, which makes no sense because I didn’t give birth to any of these girls. I wasn’t one of the judges who put them on the team. I didn’t do the hair, the makeup, the styling, or the photography. But I am proud nonetheless. Love these girls. Can’t wait for the season to start!

Click HERE for more photos from the shoot.

Jessie’s Mom Has Got it Going On…

So I was perusing the news the other day, and came across as story about a local dance studio in Northern California, whose students will we performing halftime at a local university. The studio is Dance Academy USA,which is under the artistic direction of one Jane Carter.

Jane Carter…Jane Carter…Jane Carter…I know I know something about Jane Carter. But what is it?

DUDE! That’s Jessie’s mom!

And then it all came back to me. All about Jessie’s mom, and everything Jessie told me a few months ago, and how this is THE GREATEST mother/daughter story to hit Ultimate Cheerleaders EVER. Y’all know how I am always on the hunt for twins/sisters/mother-daughter combos for our “relatives” page. My only excuse for forgetting about this is I am easily distracted and somebody must’ve waved a shiny object in front of my face.

First let’s start with Jessie. Such a sweet girl, that Jessie. Nice in a completely non-annoying way. She looks all intimidating in this photo. Soooo not her personality.

Jessie danced for the Los Angeles Clippers for two seasons (2008-2010).

I think she was all of 18 when she made the team.

Then she was with the Charger Grls for a season (2010-11).

After a season off to focus on school, Jessie got itch to get out there again. She had a little over a year before graduating from college, and decided she wanted to experience dance team at the college level. So she auditioned for, and was selected to the world famous Song Girls from the University of Southern California. That’s something new. A college dance team with an NFL/NBA alum in the ranks.

She was on that team last year (2012-13). There’s no telling where she’ll turn up next, but I am convinced she’s not finished dancing. It’s in her blood.

Which brings me to Jessie’s mom, Jane. As I mentioned above, Jane is the Artistic Director of Dance Academy USA. In addition to Jessie, Jane, and her husband Jim have two other daughters; Jamie and Jodie. Jane, Jim, Jessie, Jamie, and Jodie. I’ve seen pictures of the five of them together, and they look like the photo that comes with the frame.

Jim, I am informed, is the only one who can’t dance. Not even a little.

I’m keeping my eye out for Jamie and Jodie.

But back to Jane. This was Jane back in the day:

Like her daughter, Jane, also danced for both the NBA and the NFL. However, it was not for the Clippers and the Chargers. Jane was a Northern California girl, so her experience centered around that area. She started off with the San Jose State Spectrum Dance team in 1983-84. (To this day, Spectrum alumni are consistently selected for the NFL, NBA, and AFL.) A year later, she became a Golden State Warrior Girl.

(Top right, y'all)

She performed with that team for two years before spending a year with the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush.

After that, she retired from her career as a pro sports entertainer and opened Dance Academy USA. A couple years later, little Jessie was born, and the rest is history.

These days Dance Academy USA keeps Jane plenty busy. It’s one of the largest. most successful studios in the region. They have 40 instructors, and over 1600 students. They teach hundreds of classes each week. Successful? You better believe it.

But back in the day, it was glam all the way. I have so many questions for Jane about what it was like back then, but if I sit down to figure them all out, this post will go on the shelf yet again. So for now, let’s enjoy the pics. Many thanks to Jessie for all the photos of her mommy :-)

Sidebar: if you know of any sisters, cousins, moms and daughters, to add to the list. Let me know at sasha (at)

2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers Spirit

Woohoo! Congrats to the – not sixteen – but SEVENTEEN ladies selected to the Clippers dance team. There was too much talent in the room at auditions. What could they do besides add another dancer to the team. Five rookies (Natalie, Leiana, Traci, Booke, and Brianna) were selected to join twelve veterans on the squad. This year all of the veterans who auditioned made it back on the team, AND they made the team bigger? Awesome.

Click the photo to view full size

Standing: Jacy, Kelsey, Tatum, Natalie, Becca, and Leisha
Kneeling: Candace, Kellie, Leiana, Sara, and Shannon
Seated: Traci, Karissa, Brooke, Ashley, Brittany, and Brianna

The Clippers Spirit Takes China!

Six veteran members of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance team have been on an extended trip in China for the Dongfeng Auto Show. Jealous much? I am.

What is eh Dongfeng auto show? Glad you asked. Unfortunately, I don’t actually know. What I do know is that Dongfeng Motor Corporation is one of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the People’s Republic of China. The company is an official partner of the NBA, and invited the Spirit to appear at the show, perform, meet and greet fans, and bring some American-style awesomeness to the event. Mission accomplished.

The members of the dance team barely had this year’s auditions under their belt when it was time to pack up and go. I always wonder how these decisions go. No question that this would be veterans only. Hey, seniority has its privileges. But there were a lot of returning veterans this year. Eliminate all the ones who couldn’t get off work, and then waht do you do with everyone who is left? Draw straws? Rock, paper, scissors? Well, regardless of how they decided, Brittany, Jacy, Kellie, Kelsey, Tatum, Shannon were the lucky ladies who got to go.

Check out the photos on the Clippers website |gallery one| |gallery two| and the Clippers Spirit page on Facebook Page |click here|!

Reason #50984 why I would never been chosen for a pro dance team: If I saw a life size cardboard cutout of myself, I would take it. Wouldn’t even hesitate.

I’d take one of those, too. What? I’m just being honest.

Pop quiz: which on is the Director?

One thing you should know about Kellie: she’s a hugger. I’m not suggesting that should you ever see her at a game, you run up and bear hug her. This is just color commentary.

And a very happy birthday to the team’s Director Audrea Harris. Happy 21st!

2013-14 San Diego Charger Girls

The Chargers have posted updated bios and uniform shots for this year’s Charger Girls team. Click here to learn more about the ladies on the team!

Veterans Andrea, Ariel, and Angela

On a side note, it appears that we have another Charger Girls mystery on our hand. Back in the spring, the Chargers announced the names of the 28 young ladies selected to the team. Look at this list. Now look at the website. Now look at the list again.

2013 Charger Girls
1 Alexa
2 Alexis Alexandra
3 Alexis Lauren
4 Andrea
5 Angela
6 Anjelica
7 Ariel
8 Clarisse
9 Courtney
10 Emily
11 Hope
12 Jennifer
13 Jessica
14 Kara
15 Karissa
16 Katelyn
17 Kayla
18 Kylie
19 Lindsay
20 Melissa
21 Meridith
22 Natalie
23 Nicole
24 Paige
25 Shelbi
26 Tawnie
27 Tina
28 Tinaiya

I understand people get cut. Happens on every team every year. And it’s not unheard of for a team to lose a dancer or two before the season starts. In this case, clearly Emily and Melissa disappeared early in the process. I have no clue why. Kidnapping? Illness/injury? Unexpected pregnancy? Unfortunate facebook shenangans? Or maybe just your regular old garden variety screw up. Whatever. But adding people to the team after the fact? That’s a new one.

We already discussed the Brianna thing. Presumably whatever happened to put her on the team happened about five seconds after the team was announced. I still don’t know what that’s about, but whatever. She’s a Charger Girl and that’s that.

Now we have another Mystery Charger Girl: Katie.

Here are the facts I know about Katie:
A. She was a Charger Girl during the 2012-13 NFL season
B. She was not included in the reveal for the 2013-14 team
C. She is currently on the team’s website as a member of this year’s team (using last year’s photo.)
D. She was a finalist for the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit a couple of weeks ago.

So I have to ask myself: What the heck?
If she IS on the team, why was she at Clippers auditions? But if she isn’t on the team, why is she (still) on the Chargers website?

How am I going to find out the truth? I can’t ask any of the current Charger Girls. And nobody else who knows is goign to tell me. I’m going to have to wait like five years to get to the bottom of this situation.


2013 Clippers Spirit Finals

Final auditions for the 2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers Spirit dance team took place last Thurs.

The good news: the team as been announced
The bad news: I can’t tell you who made it yet. Not if I want to live to ever see another audition.
The other good news: They’ve expanded the team to 17 instead of 16 this year. I’m all about more jobs for dancers. Woohoo!
The other other good news: While I’m waiting for the ok to spill the beans, I can share some photos from last week’s finals.

Click here to check out my gallery on flickr!

Video: Clippers Spirit Finals

Final auditions for the 2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers Spirit took place last night. The team will be announced today. Eeek! The anticipation!
I will post the results as soon as they are made public.

I will also photos from last night later today or tomorrow morning. In the meantime, this here is a video of all 33 finalists doing their last bit of dancing for the night. Everyone danced their hearts out, but I’m willing to bet that most (a) didn’t do what they planned, (b) don’t remember what they planned, (c) don’t remember what they actually did do, or (d) all of the above.

I tell you one thing every single one of them did. WERK!

(And PS Karissa: Just because I asked how long you could keep your leg up in the air like that, didn’t mean you had to actually prove it. I believe you! I believe you! I promise. And while I’m at it, Kellie, thank you for not standing on your head. And Brittany, thank for leaving the Riverdance moves to Michael Flatley. Lord of the Dance is his gig.)