I’ve been going to Charger games in San Diego since 1995 and I have been a season ticket holder since 1999. That’s a long time. And the guys that sit next to me have been going to games for 25 years, but I only seem to remember sitting next to them for about eight of them. It could have been more, but I don’t remember. And over the years, I’ve gotten to know some game management people, who are always in my area…the first few years blocking my view of the Charger Girls with an EMT cart or some portable stages for guest performers, but I’ve gotten to know them by asking them to help me out by moving their stuff to the side and they did do their best. And I’ve meet some security folks that staff the gate I go in every week and other people like the video board camera man and his cable puller.
These are some of the relationships that I have made over the years…people you see at every game…people who are working for the organization or other Chargers fans, season ticket holders such as myself. And even though these are just people, who like myself, enjoy watching the Chargers play, we share a bond. One that I didn’t quite understand until this past Sunday.
You see this game felt like it was the last Charger game played in San Diego. For those of you that may not know, the Chargers are one of three teams that have let it be known that they would like to relocate to Los Angeles. I didn’t believe it and as recently as that morning, I felt that the Chargers would be playing in San Diego at least until next year because…there is no stadium in Los Angeles and won’t be until 2018 at the earliest. I couldn’t believe that any team would be playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Bowl for two years until the new one was ready. Maybe one year and that would give the NFL enough time, another twelve months or more to come up with a consensus as to which team or teams would win the relocation lottery.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the NFL owner’s meeting in January. This game was different than all the others I have attended and it left me with the feeling that this was the end. There was a different vibe and the San Diego fans in attendance were very loud and vociferous, cheering on the Chargers to victory. Midway through the fourth quarter, the video board played a retrospective of some the the great Charger players of the past. They even pulled Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates from the game so that the crowd could applaud them one last time. Some of the Charger Girls became a bit teary eyed as the game came to a conclusion, perhaps thinking this was the end of something special. And when the game was over, a few thousand fans gathered near field and just stood there, taking in the atmosphere as the Charger Girls danced for what seemed like an unusually long time. The security people who normally try to shoo you out of the seating area in the time it takes me to put away my camera equipment, they let us stay and enjoy the moment. They just stood there, along with the rest of us. And the sound people played songs of remembrance, like “Auld Lang Syne” and Green Day’s, “Time of your life”.
It was surreal and it did feel like this was the last time that the Chargers would be playing in San Diego. I mean if the stadium staff and Chargers management were sending us a message, it was loud and clear. This was an end of an era. Heck, a guy wearing a game management badge came up to me and introduced himself, saying that he enjoyed my Charger Girl photos…I thought that this was one of those instances where you come by and pay your respects when you know things will never be the same. I had never met him before, but he wanted to say “hi” or was it “goodbye”.
And then it dawned upon me that this may have been my last game in San Diego…the last time I will shoot the Charger Girls here at Qualcomm. I became a little sad and felt a loss, if this was in fact the end of the Chargers in San Diego. It was something that I really didn’t believe possible…until that very moment.
It was my time to leave, so I said my goodbyes to my game day friends and as I hugged my seat mates, something I’ve never done before, I got the sense that in doing so, this was the last time that I would ever see them.
* * * * *
I understand why the NFL wants to relocate a team to Los Angeles, the second largest market in the nation. But I don’t understand why they want two to move. Perhaps its because they want to collect an additional $500 million relocation fee or perhaps the era of the NFL dangling the L.A. market out as bait to extort other localities has run its course. I don’t know.
It makes sense to me why the Rams would want to move to Los Angeles. By changing their address, owner Stan Kroenke can triple or quadruple the value of his team. And I get why the Chargers and Raiders want to explore the Los Angeles market…they have crappy stadiums and why should they have to do with out what other owners get to reap, the financial rewards of a modern venue.
But something deep inside of me says that the Chargers belong in San Diego. San Diegans deserve the Chargers, heck they’ve only supported them for 54 years. And if the Chargers do relocate to Los Angeles, it just won’t be the same. Even though I live in L.A., I enjoy going to Chargers games in San Diego. I enjoy the laid back vibe of city. I enjoy the people I meet at the games. I enjoy photographing my San Diego Charger Girls. I enjoy the long drive home, where I get to relax my mind as I listen to audio books on CDs. These are all a part of my game day experience.
Yes, if the Chargers do come to L.A., I probably will buy season tickets…but it won’t be the same. And if this was the last Chargers game in San Diego, it was the end of an era…and you won’t ever see this again.
Let’s begin our special holiday coverage of the Charger Girls wearing their blue velvet uniforms with the Captains: Kayla, Tawnie, Tina, and Katelyn.
Our Charger Girl of the Day is one of many CGs that call Yorba Linda home…introducing Bridget J.!
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 15 – The Dolphins vs. The Chargers: The End of an Era?
Legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “winning is a habit. ” It is a part of a process of doing the right things repeatedly. He also said, “so is losing”. It may also be said, that losing is a part of a process of doing the wrong things repeatedly. And this past Sunday, both facts were in evidence.
The Broncos continued their winning ways by doing the things that they have been doing right all season long, mainly playing solid defense and running an offense efficiently, if unspectacularly. In contrast, the Chargers continued their losing ways by turning the ball over, playing inconsistently and showing a general lack of toughness that elite teams seem to exude.
So the outcome was not unexpected and the Chargers lost their ninth game of season, while the Broncos won their tenth. The Broncos are playing for home field advantage. The Chargers are playing for the first pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Final Score: Manning-less Broncos – 17, Chargers – 3
I think Coach Lombardi said it the best:
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
Me? I just hope the Chargers select Alabama running back Derrick Henry with the first pick in the draft next year.
Well, here’s something that will cheer up some Charger fans…
Let’s start off our week 13 coverage of the Charger Girls with the Captains: Kayla, Tina, Tawnie and Katelyn.
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day is a rookie from Ladera Ranch, California…introducing Taylor.
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 13 – The Broncos vs. The Chargers: Winning is a Habit
This past Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs came to town to battle the San Diego Chargers. The game was originally scheduled to be a prime time affair, but it was “flexed” to a 1:05 pm kickoff to reflect the won loss records of both teams.
How was the contest? It was a one sided affair with the visiting Chiefs dominating the host Chargers in all phases of the game. It was perhaps, a wise choice for the NFL decision makers to move this game from a national prime time telecast to a more modest viewing audience as this game was a stinker through and through.
Final Score: Chiefs – 33, Chargers – 3
With the loss, the Chargers moved into a tie with the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns for the honor of being the worst team in the NFL. At least the Chargers will get a high draft pick for this season’s efforts.
The only consolation for the die hard Charger fans in attendance…the hottest dance team in the NFL, your Charger Girls!
With the flexing of this game, a night game became a day game and the late November date posed some problems with the lighting. As the game started, there was some direct sunlight which gave way to a mix of shade and spotty sunlight which was succeeded by direct shade with strong back lighting in the fourth quarter…all of which led to some inconsistent and challenging shooting conditions. Geez, I would have preferred the consistent dim light of a prime time game to this and who knows, perhaps the Chargers would have played better at night.
Okay, enough misery. Let’s get on with the fun stuff and begin this week’s coverage with the Captains: Kayla, Tina, Tawnie, and Katelyn.
The Charger Girl of the Day honor goes to the cheerleader who game me the most memorable photos and it is somewhat of a rarity that a girl wins this award more than once in a season, but indeed we have a two time winner this week…introducing Delani…a two time Charger Girl of the Day.
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 11 – The Chiefs vs. The Chargers: A K.C. Masterpiece
Da Chicago Bears came to town and brought some fall like weather with them for another titanic Monday Night Football clash. With this game, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler renewed a long standing rivalry with Charger quarterback Philip Rivers, a rivalry that goes back to 2006 when Cutler played for the Denver Broncos. Those games were marked by competitive play and a noticeable amount of animus between the two signal callers. And this game was no different. The Chargers took an early 13 point lead, but Da Bears countered with a one yard Jay Cutler touchdown pass to tight end Martellus Bennett to narrow the score. The teams traded scoring opportunities until the fourth quarter when Da Bears scored the go ahead touchdown on a circus catch from Cutler to Zach Miller with 3.19 to go, dashing the hopes of the Chargers.
Final Score: Da Bears – 22, Da Chargers – 19
With the loss, the San Diego Chargers drop to 2-7 on the year, further depressing the enthusiasm of those local fans who have yet to give up on the team. You may recall that the San Diego Chargers have announced their intention to move the franchise to Los Angeles and that intent has been an albatross on the team, leading to a decrease in Charger fan attendance. And Monday was no exception. It almost seemed like a Bears home game with all those fans wearing orange and blue.
But alas, it was not a Bears home game. It was in fact, a Chargers home game. And how could you tell…Da Bears don’t have cheerleaders and Da Chargers do!
It was the annual Salute to Service game and the Charger Girls donned special military themed uniforms to honor our servicemen and servicewomen. Hmmmm. I wonder if the Department of Defense paid the Charger Girls to wear these special uniforms. Well done if they did!
Enough chit chat. Let’s begin this week’s coverage by recognizing the Captains: Kayla, Tina, Tawnie, and Katelyn.
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day is a second year veteran and native San Diegan…introducing Elizabeth.
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 9 – Da Bears vs. The Chargers: A Renewal of an Old Rivalry
Halloween came early to San Diego. Hordes of Raider fans with painted faces and wildly bizarre costumes, descended upon the friendly confines of Qualcomm Stadium. Friendly in that the host Chargers displayed the kind of points scoring generosity to the Raiders as one would give handfuls of candy to costumed kids on Halloween. To say that Raiders kicked the Charger’s ass was an understatement and somewhat of an unexpected surprise. I guess all those years of finishing last in the AFC West is paying out handsomely in a bevy of young draft talent, namely quarterback Derek Carr and future all pro wide receiver Amari Cooper, who combined to scare the heck out of Charger defenders. And if the final score seemed close, it was only because the Raiders defense decided to take it off in the fourth quarter, well after the outcome was decided. After all, the Raiders scored all the points they needed in the first half.
Final Score: Scary Pirates – 37, Hapless Chargers – 29.
Well if the game play was a trick, the Charger Girls were a treat!
Its the end of October and its still hot out here in Southern California! Hey, I like warm weather as much as anyone, but c’mon man. 85 degrees and humid? Its autumn. In a month and half it should be winter. But I am not complaining (okay, I am) because good weather means, good shooting! However, a cool and crisp fall Sunday would be a nice change of pace.
The Charger Girls changed things up a bit and mixed the order in which their lines showed up in my part of Qualcomm, so let’s begin this week’s coverage with the Line Captains as they appeared before my section: Kayla, Tina, Tawnie, and Katelyn.
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day is one of three former Arizona Pommies on the CGs…introducing first year Charger Girl Allie!
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 7 – The Raiders vs. The Chargers: Halloween Comes Early to San Diego
Monday Night Football is always a big deal and a game with the Pittsburgh Steelers is a big, big deal. Their fans always travel well and for a Monday Night Football game, there were Steeler fans coming out of the woodwork. Every where you turned, they were people wearing black and yellow. In fact there were hundreds of Steeler fans at the Bud Light Power Party, most of them lined up in front of the Charger Girls booth. Heck, it was like they never had seen NFL cheerleaders before…that’s right, they don’t have them!
Well as it would turn out, Steeler fans were doubly lucky. They pulled out a close win on the last play of the game AND they got to see the hottest dance team in the NFL, your Charger Girls. Psst! Between you and me, if I had to choose between a win or the Charger Girls…I choose the Charger Girls.
Night games are always tricky to shoot because…its at night and there’s not a lot of light…okay not a lot of good light, just that sickly yellow green tinted mercury vapor illumination. And for a Monday Night Game there were double the amount of people on the sidelines…you know, ESPN vested guys, NFL vested guys, Media vested guys…all of them conspiring to get in the way of my shot of the Charger Girls. And the Chargers, in their infinite wisdom, brought back a huge stage in front of my seats. Its a wonder, I got the images I got.
Let’s begin with the Charger Girl Captains: Tawnie, Katelyn, Kayla, Tina.
Our Charger Girl of the Day is a rookie who calls Mission Viejo her hometown, introducing…Rebecca.
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 5 – The Steelers vs. The Chargers on Monday Night Football
Click here for scenes from week 1 of the regular season, from Sports Illustrated. And don’t miss this new look from the 49ers Gold Rush:
An old proverb says that it is better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life. Well if that day was Sunday, it might have been better if the Lions were sheep because at least the Rams won.
The NFC North division Lions made a rare appearance in Southern California and many of us fantasy football players were excited to see how a couple of rookie running backs would play. Lion Ameer Abdullah played like…a lion and had himself 129 all purpose yards and a touchdown, while his Charger counterpart, Melvin Gordon, had 51 rushing yards and a costly fumble. Well at least the Chargers had Danny Woodhead to bail them out. He scored two clutch touchdowns. Quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 404 yards and threw two second half touchdowns to rally the Chargers to victory.
Final Score: Chargers – 33, Lions – 28.
Well Philip Rivers wasn’t the only one having a good day, so was The Hottest Dance Team in the NFL, your Charger Girls.
It was another hot and sunny day in San Diego…I can’t wait for cooler weather because I really hate being all hot and sweaty…but that’s how it usually is for me when I photograph the Charger Girls. And speaking of hot things, let’s begin this week’s coverage of the Charger Girls with the Captains: Tawnie, Katelyn, Kayla, and Tina.
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day is a former Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader who found her way back home to California…introducing Laguna Niguel’s own Roxi.
Continue reading 2015 NFL Regular Season Week 1 – The Lions vs. The Chargers
Week 3 of the preseason saw the Seattle Seahawks fly into San Diego to play the Chargers in a titanic battle of…okay…it was just another preseason game. The
defending Super Bowl Champions…uh…Super Bowl runner ups survived the unseasonably hot weather to prevail in the last minute on a 60 yard field goal by Steven Hauschka, 16-15.
If you like kicks, this was a game for you as three kickers combined to score six field goals. Yawn. Me? I like kicks of a different sort.
The San Diego Chargers honored the men and women in uniform at this past Saturday’s game, holding their 27th annual Salute to the Military celebration. The Charger Girls were adorned in military themed uniforms to cheer on the boys in blue, but it was to no avail as the Chargers succumbed to the
defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.
Side note: I never played a down of football in my life, but I am smart enough to know that if you are on the opponent’s one yard line in the Super Bowl with seconds left in the game and you have a player nicknamed “Beastmode”, you feed him the ball…on second down…on third down…and on fourth down.
I am a proud San Diego Chargers season ticket holder and a Charger Girl fan…like most of you reading this article. So let’s kick off this week’s coverage of the Charger Girls with the captains: Tawnie, Katelyn, Kayla, and Tina.
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day is a second year veteran who really caught my eye this year…introducing Delani!
Continue reading 2015 NFL Preseason Week 3 – The Seahawks vs The Chargers
NFL football is back! And its better than ever…okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration…okay, that’s more than a bit of exaggeration. But hey, it’s football…preseason football…but football nonetheless. And if you are like me, tired of watching the glacial paced Major League Baseball, preseason NFL football is a god send. Why? Because MLB doesn’t have cheerleaders…at least not like the NFL.
I do like watching preseason football. Not because it is good, per se, but because I play fantasy football and I am always trying to glean some tidbit of information on up and coming players or some sort of intelligence on new coaches with new schemes in new places. For example, many years ago, I was intrigued at the prospects of a young and talented running back from the University of Tennessee, named Arian Foster. He was an undrafted free agent and definitely under the radar, but after watching a preseason game in which he rushed for a touchdown and had another one called back, he was a player to watch. And when draft day came around, I selected him and rode him to a fantasy football championship. He has been a productive player for several years, before injuries ravaged his hamstrings and groin.
So what did I learn this past weekend when the Dallas Cowboys came to visit the San Diego Chargers…not a damn thing. There wasn’t much passing. There wasn’t much rushing. There wasn’t much quality football played. And what did I learn about Tony Romo or Joseph Randle? Nothing because they didn’t play. Or what about highly touted Charger rookie Melvin Gordon? Not much from his six carry, eleven yard performance.
The starters played only one or two series, if they played at all, and the rest of the game was relegated to scrubs and guys who won’t even make the 53 man roster. Heck the Cowboys even played Lache Seastrunk…Lache Seastrunk? The last time I read about him was when he left the University of Oregon in a cloud of mystery surrounding his recruitment. That’s how bad it was.
But quality football was not the reason why I drove 120 miles to San Diego. No. It was to scout out a different sort of fantasy football team…the Charger Girls. And they did not disappoint. So let’s take our first look at the 2015 Charger Girls and we begin with the Captains: Tawnie, Kayla, Katelyn, Tina.
This year many of my favorite Charger Girls from years past retired, but there was one special girl who returned for her third year and she happens to be our first Charger Girl of the Day for 2015…introducing Shelbi.
Little known fact about Shelbi – she was crowned third runner up in this year’s Miss California USA pageant!
Continue reading 2015 NFL Preseason Week 1 – The Cowboys vs The Chargers
Charger Girl Jennifer
The Charger Girls profiles have been updated on the San Diego Chargers website. Click here to learn all about the team!
Jayme, Lauren, and Roxi
By Shireen Khalil
The Herald Sun
In school she had high hopes of becoming an international cheerleader — now an official cheerleader for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, Angela Minucos has realised her dream.
After working up the courage to audition for the Chargers’ cheerleading squad, Ms Minucos beat more than 400 other women to become a Charger Girl.
“When you know there are going to be that many talented women competing for the same spot, it is very intimidating,” Ms Minucos said. “But I am so fortunate to have such an amazing support system.”
The former Rosebank College student was a cheerleader for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League for two years before getting a spot in the popular San Diego squad.
“That was when my passion for cheerleading really exploded. I saw a whole other professional side to cheerleading,” she said.
“ When I returned to Australia I knew I wasn’t ready to finish and instantly began making plans to go to America and take the next step into the biggest league, the NFL.”
She said the auditions were extremely tough with hundreds of girls vying for a spot with the San Diego Chargers,
“The first interview is a one on one with the Charger a Girls Team Director Lisa Simmons,” she said.
“From there a panel interview with several Chargers executives and personnel, where by you can be asked all sorts of questions, from your personal experience to statistics and information about the Chargers organisation and its football players.”
“For me, the best part of being a cheerleader is giving back to the community.
“Taking part in anti bullying programs, healthy lifestyle initiatives for kids and raising money for important charities is a huge reason why I do what I do.”
Ms Minucos is currently living in San Diego and can’t wait to kick off the season.
“ We started our preseason training immediately following the auditions and it has been non stop since. I can’t wait for the season to begin and having all of this hard work and preparation pay off on the field when I get to dance in front of 70,000 Chargers fans!”
By Rowena Ryan
May 29, 2015
Forget everything you’ve seen in the movies.
Cheerleaders are not all blonde, they don’t all date football players and they don’t just shake pompoms.
Australian cheerleader, Angie Minucos, 24, knows this all too well.
She has just made it big time by being accepted as a cheerleader for the highly competitive San Diego Chargers National Football League (NFL) team in the United States, the home of cheerleading.
While cheerleading is still relatively small in Australia, think the Paramatta Eels, the WestsTigers and the Sydney Sixers, in the United States there are around 3.6 million cheerleaders competing fiercely every year for the chance to make the team.
Landing a place in one of the 32 NFL teams is incredibly hard and those who do make it have to re-audition every year. The week long audition sees hundreds of girls competing, learning difficult routines in front of a panel of judges. It’s extremely gruelling, taxing on the body and nerve-racking but Angie made the cut!
The pinnacle for any cheerleader is the American NFL.
“It’s a whole other level in North America. There’s much more of a purpose, the entertainment value cheerleaders provide in the game itself is huge — NFL is a long paced game of up to four hours unlike rugby at home that is much quicker.”
But it is also a misunderstood sport. It’s not just about on-field performances, cheerleaders in America are involved in community projects, charity events, public speaking and media appearances.
“I think there’s misconceptions everywhere,” says Angie, “It’s a performing art. It doesn’t differentiate from any other dance, at the end of the day it’s more than dancing though — we are ambassadors, we have a platform and we have a voice,” she says.
A typical training week for a Charger Girl involves two evening sessions of four hours from 6pm — 10pm as well as Saturday from 8am — 5pm and it’s big business.
Cheerleaders are paid a salary, they have personal trainers, a team nutritionist and are expected to take part in media interviews, photo shoots and events.
It’s also one of the most dangerous sports in terms of injuries. A study reported in the Wall Street Journal found that cheerleading is the number one cause of catastrophic injuries among girls and young women in the USA.
A 2012 study from The American Academy of Paediatrics found that cheerleading accounted for 65 per cent of catastrophic injuries to girl athletes at high school and 70.8 per cent at college level between 1982 and 2009.
While the number of catastrophic injuries are small, there were 110 closed head injuries, skull fractures and cervical spine injuries over that time, it’s the disproportionate number of severe injuries in this one activity that was found to be most concerning.
Angie recently almost had an injury end her career. Four months prior to the audition she sustained a labral tear in her hip, a common dancer injury.
“Typical this means surgery resulting in at least six months off but I was determined to make that audition,” she says.
“I searched and searched until I found a wonderful physio who was confident we could strengthen my hip again by the time of the audition.
“I spent three hours a day on rehabilitation of my hip for the three months leading up to the audition and currently spend a few hours a week maintaining it.
“Considering I could barely walk without pain let alone dance, I had a really fortunate recovery,” says Angie.
Born in Sydney’s western suburbs before moving to Five Dock during high school, Angie is one of six kids and grew up dancing. She started ballet at just two years old, but it was a chance opportunity to join a recreation cheerleading program at school at age 15 that forged her career.
“I fell in love with it straightaway,” says Angie. “I had never participated in a team sport before and I never thought it could have taken me around the world.”
For now Angie is enjoying life in San Diego and the thought of performing in front of a stand of 80,000 fans when the season begins in September.
“I’m a big believer in following opportunities wherever they may go, in taking a leap of faith. This is my dream and I’ll see where that takes me,” she says.
Times of San Diego
April 10, 2015
[Photo Gallery (Photos by Chris Stone)]
Hoping to join (or rejoin) the 28-member Chargers Girls dance team, 72 young women auditioned for the 2015-2016 season Thursday afternoon at the Sheraton Harbor Island.
On a wooden ballroom floor, they performed a routine in threesomes and then another as solos. They often cheered each other as they awaited their turns.
Chargers CEO A.G. Spanos, oldest son of team president Dean Spanos, was among the judges of the final audition, which began with more than 300 registrants Saturday at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion, and narrowed to about 150. Interviews helped pick the final 72.
Other judges were Jessie Christensen, Ken Derrett, Mike Douglass, Ryan Gallop, Maria Giannini, Kristin Hollowaty, Denny O’Leary, Nicole Rush and Lisa Simmons (the squad’s director)
“I was really impressed with the deep pool of talent that auditioned for this year’s team,” Simmons said. “We had to make some tough decisions to select the final 28 girls. That strong competition has ensured we’ll have one of our finest squads ever.”
Members selected Friday (and shown on the Chargers website) range in age from 18 to 30.
Seventeen are returning veterans and 11 are first-time Charger Girls. Fifteen of the 28 members are students, including two from San Diego State University, two from the University of San Diego and one from the University of San Diego School of Law.
The group includes a certified public accountant, social media director, medical sales representative and general manager of a performing arts & fitness facility. The roster also includes nine native San Diegans and one dancer from Sydney, Australia.
Besides the traditional calendar and home game appearances, members also attend community and charity events.