From Nunnery to Honey Bears Sisterhood

By Burt Constable
The Daily Herald

After graduating from her all-girl high school in 1964, Cathy Core entered the convent of the Sisters of Charity on her path to becoming a nun.

On Friday night, Core, 68, of Wheaton, will be celebrating a different sort of life’s work when her sisters of the Chicago Honey Bears reunite at a charity event Friday in Addison.

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“There’s just a sisterhood, and part of that sisterhood has to do with Cathy,” says Suzy Kopp-Jones of Bartlett, one of many alums of Core’s Honey Bears dance squad that roamed the sidelines at Chicago Bears football games a generation ago, and still remains close.

“It’s a pretty special little sorority,” says Jackie Nicholas Thurlby, a Naperville real estate agent and former Honey Bear, whose three children all boast Cathy Core and her husband Joe Core as their godparents. “The lives she’s impacted — you can’t count the numbers.”

Inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame last September before a crowd packed with cheering, former Honey Bears, Core also was in charge of the Chicago Bulls Luvabulls squad for 29 years until her retirement in 2013. She’s toured the globe with the Luvabulls, directed a host of other dance groups with Chicago’s professional sports teams, run camps for kids, and been a key part of many charity events. In the world of sports entertainment, she’d done everything, except make good on one girlhood dream.

“I always wanted to be a cheerleader,” Core says, “but the nuns decided differently.”

One of the nuns teaching at her high school in her hometown of Jersey City, N.J., wanted her to sing with the glee club instead of being a cheerleader, Core says. Core says just minutes before cheerleader tryouts, the nun sent Core to a closet to get supplies. Somehow, the door locked, and by the time Core was freed, she was too late for cheerleader tryouts.

Determined to scratch her cheerleading itch, Core coached the younger girls’ cheerleader squad at her school. Planning to study nursing after graduating from high school, Core moved into the Sisters of Charity convent in Morristown, N.J. But that wasn’t her calling. So she took a job as an office manager in the fledgling computer department at Pace University in New York, where she ended up coaching the university cheerleading squad.

She grew up on Bidwell Avenue in Jersey City, just a couple of blocks from her future husband, and they went to the same grade school and same Sacred Heart Catholic Church. But they didn’t meet until a young adults dance at their church.

A graduate of Seton Hall University, where he joined the ROTC, Joe was inducted into the Army in 1966, married Cathy on Feb. 4, 1967, and was assigned to duty for a year in Hawaii, where his bride picked up a few dance moves from her hula lessons. After a year in Vietnam, where he was awarded many medals, including a Bronze Star, Capt. Joe Core came home and started a career as a federal agent with the Treasury Department. The couple bought their home in Wheaton when he was transferred to Chicago in 1974. Reluctant to leave New Jersey, Cathy Core decided to make the best of things at her new home. She volunteered as the cheerleading coach for young girls at St. James the Apostle School in Glen Ellyn, and took a job at a teachers’ credit union in Westchester.

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders already had become a national institution when Chicago Bears owner George Halas decided his team should have “dancing girls.” A failed and quickly forgotten experiment with the Bear Essentials, a group of cheerleaders wearing long skirts and knee socks that revealed less skin than the players’ uniforms, led Bears brass to ask around the office for a real cheerleader coach. One woman suggested the cheerleader coach at her church’s school, and Bears General Manager Jim Finks gave Core a call.

“I thought it was someone playing a joke on me, so I laughed and told him I was Shirley Temple,” remembers Core, who didn’t recognize the names of Halas or Finks.

“The next day I answered the phone at the credit union and the voice on the other end said, ‘Shirley, this is Jim Finks. Can we talk?'” Core says.

She was never a cheerleader and her only formal dance lessons were in Irish step-dancing, but Core immediately found success with the Honey Bears as the squad’s director and choreographer.

“I’d do a lot of stuff at home. I’d have the music blasting and be sweating my buns off,” says Core, who admits to learning from her pupils. “I would listen to them. My talent was that I could see the big picture. I could tell right away if it was going to work.”

The first professional football game she attended, Core was on the sidelines directing a squad of 28 Honey Bears adorned in white “hot pants” and a vest that covered their midriffs and laced in the front. “When the girls first hit the field, the fans went crazy,” she remembers.

So did Bears management. At halftime, Core was given a note complaining that the dancers were showing too much cleavage, so Core had them lace up the front. When the Honey Bears came out for the second half with a more modest look, Core got a phone call on the sideline from Finks.

“What are you doing? The girls look like a bunch of nuns out there,” he told her.

“Jim won out,” says Core, who notes that the Honey Bears never showed as much skin as the cheerleading crews in Dallas or Miami. Those original members were required to be full-time students or have jobs. They were paid $5 a game that first season, but were in demand all year for personal appearances.

“I never thought the girls were being exploited. They were always treated with the utmost respect,” Core says, who eventually formed C.C. Company with her husband, and hired choreographers. “They (the Honey Bears) took great pride in their appearance, the way they handled themselves, their education, their talent.”

Making sure that the women adhered to strict behavior codes, including no fraternizing with the players, Core remembers firing a couple of Honey Bears for posing nude in magazines, and another for building a relationship with a player. She ran a tight ship.

“You learned how to be young women,” says Thurlby, who remembers being “scared to death” of doing something that would require a reprimand from Core.

“I still can’t chew gum,” says Kopp-Jones, recalling Core’s ban on gum.

After Halas died, the team soured on the Honey Bears. Their last game was Super Bowl XX on Jan. 26, 1986, in New Orleans.

“If you’re going out, that’s a great way to go out,” Core says. “And they haven’t won a Super Bowl since, I might add. The curse of the Honey Bears.”

Core took over the Luvabulls in 1984, and continued with the squad through the Michael Jordan years and six championships. She and her husband had Jordan sign a few items during the years, including a photo from his rookie season, just in case Jordan became famous someday. Jordan assured them he would.

In traveling around the world with the Luvabulls and other groups, the Cores became involved in A New Day Cambodia, a charity begun by sports photographer Bill Smith and his wife, Lauren. For the past decade, the Cores have been frequent visitors, financial and emotional supporters, and active “parents” for Samong, now 20, and her brother, Pov, 18.

“That’s been wonderful,” Joe Core says, noting so many of their friendships, travels and joys have grown out of the career that began when Cathy Core agreed to be the “Ma Bear” for the Honey Bears.

“I never thought I could tell you anything about football, and now I yell at (Bears quarterback Jay) Cutler like everybody else,” she says, adding that she’d like to see the Honey Bears revived. “I think the team needs a little something-something now.”

Core has gotten more from her career than she ever imagined.

“It’s phenomenal,” Cathy Core says of the relationships she and her husband have built. “Having these women in our lives has been the icing on the cake.”

Photo of the Day – February 23

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Mariah of the Milwaukee Bucks Dancers at Open Practice on Thursday night

Photo of the Day – February 20

A Pair of Charlotte Lady Cats

Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders Release 2015 Swimsuit Calendar

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[2015 Atlanta Hawks Cheerleader Calendar]

[Hawks Cheerleaders Swimsuit Gallery]

Photo of the Day – February 13

A Laker Girl

Vanity Dance Company Winter Showcase & Social Hour

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The Vanity Dancers are an elite, all female performance group assembled by Patrisha Yabes and Shonna Chiles.The team was designed to train women who wish to have a pro-dance team experience in the areas of dance, promotional expectations, and community service.

Their December Showcase will featured two performances, complimentary hors d’oeuvres & mimosa bar, a lash studio, make up demos, and much more.

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[Vanity Dancers Winter Showcase Gallery]

[Vanity Dance Company]

Where is She Now? Devon Williams

Last weekend at Sideline Prep’s DMV Workshop I had a chance to catch up with former Wizard Girl Devon Williams.

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A three-year veteran of the Wizard Girls, Devon was a two-time captain, Wizard Girls Member of the Year in 2012, and the 2013 Wizard Girls MVP. She capped of her career by being the 1st Wizard Girl to have her uniform number retired.

Now Devon and her college friend and Syracuse University Dance Team teammate, Alanna Simpson, have started Fanciful Entertainment. Their company provides dancers for events and brands. They are growing quickly in the DC, MD, and VA area; and will be expanding to NYC very soon.

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And Devon could use your assistance. She’s been nominated for Radio One’s Top 30 Under 30 Award. So help her out and give her a vote!

[Fanciful Entertainment]

[Vote for Devon – Radio One: Top 30 Under 30]

Will Ferrell ‘Ejected’ After Hitting Cheerleader in Face with Basketball During NBA Game

From ABC7News.com

Will Ferrell may be a baller on the comedy court, but he fouled out big time with his latest stunt.

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During halftime at Wednesday’s Lakers-Pelicans game in New Orleans, Ferrell participated in a faux-half court shot competition. But instead of shooting the ball, Ferrell threw it and hit a nearby cheerleader in the head. Ferrell was then promptly “ejected” by security after hitting the cheerleader.

The stunt was filmed for Ferrell’s upcoming 2015 movie “Daddy’s Home,” according to Sports Illustrated. IMDb describes the film as “When a divorced guy’s ex-wife re-marries someone way more uptight, he re-enters her life and wreaks havoc.” Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, and Hannibal Burress are set to star in the film alongside Ferrell.

Watch a video of the “incident” here.

Techie By Day, Luvabull By Night: How to Juggle Startup Life and Professional Dance

By Jim Dallke
ChicagoInno.com

The demands of working at a startup are notorious. Long hours, multiple responsibilities, and building a truly innovative business can put a lot of pressure on a young company and its employees. But if you’re used to performing in front of 20,000 screaming fans, maybe the pressures of the tech world don’t seem quite as intimidating.

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Amelia Carpenter is a marketing and communications associate at Narrative Science, a Chicago startup that turns massive amounts of data into written stories. She’s also one of the newest additions to the Luvabulls, the professional dance team of the Chicago Bulls. The dual roles have Carpenter growing a tech brand and doing internal communications during the day, and practicing and performing at the United Center at night. The two jobs require vastly different skill sets, but the gigs have more in common than you might think, Carpenter said.

“At Narrative Science, we have this product and we’re working day in and day out on this team and we all have the same goal,” she said. “And ultimately we have this audience that has these expectations of us. And it’s exactly the same as being on the Luvabulls. You’re working really hard as a team to put something together and deliver to an audience.”

After a full day at Narrative Science, Carpenter practices at least twice a week with the Luvabulls, plus games. During larger performances, like for Halloween and Christmas Day games, the team will practice four times a week. And there are the autograph signings and community outreach events that keep the dancers even busier. It’s a demanding schedule for the 25-year-old Detroit native, but doable with some creative time management, she said.

“I love working on a team,” Carpenter said. “I love working toward something awesome and putting in the work and the time to make it amazing. And the performance part of it, whether it’s delivering a product at Narrative Science or performing at a game, that’s the really rewarding part for me.”

Making the Luvabulls is intensely competitive; roughly 20 women make the team of over 200 that try out. Carpenter made the 2014-15 squad after unsuccessfully trying the previous two years. A dancer all the way through college at the University of Miami Ohio, she said making the Luvabulls was a dream come true.

“You don’t always get instant gratification as a dancer, so making the team was kind of indescribable,” she said. “It was amazing. I worked really hard for it.”

In college, Carpenter was in the entrepreneurship department at Miami and always had a desire to be a journalist and tells stories. So when Narrative Science CEO Stuart Frankel came to the school (where he graduated) to give a talk, Carpenter knew that was the company she wanted to work for.

“I knew about his success at DoubleClick and the sale to Google, and I was really interested in journalism, so when Narrative Science came up it was sort of a natural fit with journalism and tech. I pretty much just emailed him until he responded for an interview.”

Having a dual role in both the tech scene and the professional dance community comes with its challenges. And Carpenter acknowledged that both professions come with their fair share of stereotypes. But Carpenter is proof that techies can be extroverted performers, and dancers can be sort of nerdy. Both communities are very open minded, she said, which is something that attracted her to both professions.

“I think both communities are accepting of all personalities, especially in tech.” she said. “There’s so many good ideas and so much innovation, you have to be (open minded). And you have to be smart to be a dancer … to be that creative and to do the things that we do.”

The jobs have Carpenter thinking about how to merge the two, like using Bulls data at Narrative Science to perform predictive analytics before the season. She said both jobs compliment her personality, and she hopes to continue the roles in the future.

“I get to have my day job, and I’m really passionate about the people I work with there. And I get to go and be really creative and pursue my passion in dance at night.”

[Amelia the Bulls website]

Miss Universe Contestants Strut Their Stuff for Heat Dancers

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Photo of the Day – January 14

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2014 Brooklynettes Finals

Former Laker Girl is Miss California USA 2015

Congratulations to Natasha Martinez who was crowned Miss California USA in the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention Center on Sunday. The former Laker Girl competing as Miss Santa Anita Park defeated almost 120 other contestants to win the title. She will compete in the Miss USA Pageant in June.

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[Miss California USA]

Photos of the Year – December 23

(As the year ends, we’re sharing our favorite photos from the past 12 months)

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Houston Rockets Power Dancer Paige at the RPD tryouts this past June. The most senior veteran on the team, Paige is always on giving her best performance.

‘Inside the Magic: Hard Court Dancers’ Premieres Dec. 19 on FOX Sports Florida

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Prepare to be taken behind the scenes into the joys and challenges of being the rhythm and movement of Orlando Magic basketball. On Friday, Dec. 19 at 10:00 p.m., FOX Sports Florida, the regional television home of the Magic, will premiere a brand new episode of “Inside the Magic” upon conclusion of the Magic vs. Utah Jazz game. Titled “Hard Court Dancers,” this episode is an upbeat step into the world of the Orlando Magic Dancers.

From dance rehearsals and public appearances at community events, to dancing front and center for fans on game nights, the Magic Dancers give their full commitment, as they follow their passion of uplifting the Orlando community through dance. What most people don’t know is that the Dancers also have full-time jobs or are full-time students. “Inside the Magic: Hard Court Dancers” will take a look at the careers of four dancers: One is a third grade teacher, one works for an Orlando radio station, another is a physical therapist and one is a student at UCF.

The Dancers rehearse three times a week for approximately three hours, in addition to game night. “Hard Court Dancers” follows the group on game night, starting with rehearsal, followed by meeting-and-greeting fans, taking pictures and signing autographs. On this special night, all 20 Dancers come together for a special halftime act, where the team is officially introduced to the fans.

Re-Air Schedule:

Sun 12/21/2014 5:00 p.m.
Fri 12/26/2014 10:00 p.m.
Mon 12/29/2014 10:30 p.m.
Tue 12/30/2014 10:00 p.m.
Sat 1/3/2014 10:30 a.m.
Wed 1/7/2014 8:00 p.m.
Thu 1/8/2014 11:30 a.m.
Sat 1/10/2014 10:00 a.m.
Sat 1/10/2014 9:00 p.m.
Mon 1/12/2014 7:00 p.m.
Wed 1/14/2014 10:30 p.m.
Thu 1/15/2014 11:00 a.m.
Fri 1/16/2014 5:00 p.m.

[Orlando Magic Dancers]

Charlotte Honey Bee Alyssa

I have a bunch of photos from the P-R-O Convention that I never got around to posting. Here’s the delightfully charming Alyssa:

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Continue reading Charlotte Honey Bee Alyssa