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This Dynamic Duo is Ready to Roar

Mouat grads will suit up with B.C. Lions dance team

By Cam Tucker
The Abbbotsford Times

They have been best friends since Grade 8, and now the Dynamic Duo of Karessa Van Aert and Jessica MacMillan will be front and centre when the B.C. Lions kick off the 2010 CFL season.

No, they won’t be manning the offensive line or throwing darts for receivers Geroy Simon or Paris Jackson.

Instead, the Abbotsford tandem will be dancing up a storm for the B.C. Lions Felions dance team.

The difference is Van Aert will begin her second season with the Felions, while MacMillan enters as the rookie.

Karessa Van Aert, above, and Jessica MacMillan, best friends and graduates of W.J. Mouat, will represent Abbotsford as members of the B.C. Lions Felions dance team when the 2010 Canadian Football League season kicks off in June.

“We’ve danced together for seven years over at Danceworx Studio and she went in last year to the Felions and she said ‘you have to come when you turn 19,'” said MacMillan, a 2008 W.J. Mouat grad along with Van Aert.

“So I decided to try out this year.”

It certainly wasn’t an easy process for both girls, especially with more than 100 applicants trying to impress the panel of judges at auditions on April 3.

“What’s more nerve racking than the judges was the 100 girls behind them staring at us,” said Van Aert, who attends University of the Fraser Valley with hopes of getting into the nursing program there.

“But the judges won’t put up with girls who aren’t respectful towards teammates. Attitude is definitely important.”

MacMillan added: “It’s definitely intimidating, but everyone was super nice when we were there.”

And now that MacMillan is officially on the squad, she hopes it will bring about new opportunities for her career.

“It opens so many doors,” she said.

“I’m just really excited to see what we experience in this next year.”

MacMillan also has the benefit of her closest friend having a year’s experience with the Felions under her belt.

bc1With everything from commitment to dealing with unruly fans, Van Aert said there is definitely a lot to take in over the course of the season.

“Commitment is definitely something [coaches] have trouble with. They’ve had girls fall through because of that,” Van Aert said.

“The season goes by really fast and it’s a once in a life time experience.”

And when you’re under the spotlight throughout the course of a CFL season, you’re going to have good and bad moments.

“The best moment was probably running on the field for the first time and hearing 34,000 people scream when they called the dance team out,” said Van Aert.

“It’s a surreal feeling.”

And the worst memory?

“We had to do a Halloween game and my group had to wear pumpkin costumes. I have no idea why, it wasn’t enough of a cute costume,” she laughed.

Despite the start of the CFL regular season still two months away, both girls have been inundated with information since they were notified of their selections last week.

There is a swimsuit calendar photo shoot this week followed by weeks of training and choreography before the season begins at the revamped outdoor facility of Empire Stadium.

The fact the Lions will play this season outdoors doesn’t phase the newbie.

“I think it will be really fun actually,” added MacMillan.

But the fact the duo is dancing together again is even better, said Van Aert.

“It’s definitely going to be more fun dancing with a best friend,” she said.

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