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Emily is in her Element with the Adrenaline Rush Dancers

Emily signs the Adrenaline Rush Dansers poster for a young fan after the last regular season home game

“Emily loves applause.”

That was the first line in a newspaper story about Emily of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers back when she was in elementary school. Her local paper did a piece about Emily’s fourth/fifth grade holiday season program back home in the Bay Area of northern California, and Emily was quoted in the article saying, “Hearing the applause makes me feel like I’ve done a good job. (Our teacher) cries when we do a good job, and she cried at this one, which means we did a really, really good job.” Emily was quoted about one of the holiday dances that she performed, “The dance had lots of steps and kicks.”

Well, I hope Emily still loves applause, because she hears a lot of it as she performs with her ARD sisters at Chicago Rush AFL games. The Rush made it to the final four of the AFL, but Arizona sidelined their ArenaBowl plans for this year. But around the time of the season’s final regular season home game, Emily graciously participated in an interview with UltimateCheerleaders. We will learn about Emily’s path from Cali to Chicago, her love of both dance and chemistry, including Emily’s favorite element. And not her favorite dance element, but the elements in that big periodic table of chemical fun.

Emily was born and raised in Sunnyvale, California, not too far from where the AFL’s Saberkittens perform now for games in San Jose. Family time was a precious time for Emily growing up, as she explains, “My favorite childhood memories definitely involve family gatherings. Every summer we would go down to Carmel Valley and spend the month with my Dad’s whole side of the family. Holidays were also some of my favorite times because we would get to spend time with the entire extended family, including relatives that lived across the country. I love my family and they are a big part of who I am so most of my favorite memories involve them.”

Emily and Amber after the game

During these formative years, Emily developed two keen interests, dance and chemistry. Emily says, “I have been dancing ever since I can remember. When I was little I used to put on Disney movies and act them out in my living room, including dancing and singing during all the songs. I didn’t start formal classes until I was older, but the passion has always been there. My parents were always supportive of me in whatever I wanted to do, so dance was no exception. My dad always said I didn’t seem complete unless I was dancing, and he was right!”

The other side of Emily’s brain was also finding a source of interest in other topics. “I have always enjoyed the math and science subjects,” Emily explains, “But my high school chemistry teacher was the first person to spark my passion for chemistry. He taught it in such an engaging way and I took to it right away. I just find the subject so interesting and exciting, and there is always something more to learn.”

Emily soon would be on the move to SoCal, to become a student at USC. “After high school, I went to the University of Southern California for school where I met the best friends anyone could ever have, and had probably four of the best years of my life,” Emily recalls. “I double majored in Chemistry and Psychology and was involved in a myriad of clubs and leadership activities.”

Emily’s next steps would soon send her to the Midwest, and she explains, “After graduation, I spent another year in Los Angeles working as a pharmaceutical sales representative, but I always knew I wanted to go back to school. I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan to get my Ph.D. in Chemistry, so I could one day teach at a university. During my time there, I fell even more in love with teaching, but realized the research aspect of the program just wasn’t for me. I left the program with my Master’s Degree and moved to Chicago to start the next chapter of my life. And here I am!”

When asked about her ‘dream job,’ Emily responds, “My dream job would be to teach organic chemistry at a University. I really enjoy working with college students, and I would want to share my passion of the subject with others and potentially influence them to think of the subject differently.”

But in all those years of chemistry, did any experiments ever not go as planned? Did any ever go ‘ker-blew-y’? Not all experiments go ‘swimmingly,’ as Emily explains, “Chemistry experiments go wrong all the time, so I have had plenty that have not worked. I have never had an experiment blow up or anything, but I have flooded the lab with water before!”

So, in that big periodic chart that hangs in chemistry classroom walls, full of noble gases, metals, no-metals, and halogens, what is Emily’s most favorite element? “I have never really thought about having a favorite element, but since I like organic chemistry I would say Carbon,” answers Emily. “It is such an important element that is involved in making up so many things in this world, which is just incredible. The same element makes up the human body, charcoal, and diamonds!”

One wonders what kind of reaction mixing chemistry and pro dance might generate amongst her chemistry friends. “My friends are completely supportive of my dancing,” Emily shares. “They know what a huge part of my life dance is, and are happy to see me doing something I love.”

So once Emily ended up in Chi-town, what prompted her interest in the Rush? “I actually had discovered the Rush when I was first deciding where to go for graduate school, Emily replies. “I loved their choreography and thought the team was incredibly talented. When I decided to move to Chicago, I knew I wanted to try out for the team. I figured I would move out to the city and then plan on auditioning; only I discovered that the auditions were actually before I was moving out. It was quite the process driving back and forth from school in Michigan to Chicago for the audition process, but it was completely worth it for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing organization and such an incredible team of women.”

So, a California girl, now a talented young woman blossoming in Chicago, what does Emily miss about Cali and what does she like about her new city with big shoulders? “I miss my family and friends the most,” responds Emily. “It is hard being so far away from them.” Emily continues, “I love Chicago. It is such an exciting and beautiful city. I love that there are four seasons. I love watching the leaves turn color in the fall, and playing in the snow in the winter. I love how everyone appreciates the summer when it comes, and celebrates it by spending time outside at festivals and the beach. I love all the amazing food options and the ability to try flavors that I may never have had the option of trying before.”

“I also love the lake. I miss the ocean in California, but it helps having water so close by,” Emily smiles, “Although it is on the wrong side!”

But Chicago adds something that coastal California rarely sees, the beautiful, traffic maddening, falling of snow. For Emily, what is more nerve wracking, dancing in front of thousands, or driving in Chicago during winter snowstorms? “Definitely driving in storms! I do get nervous before I perform, but it is out of excitement, so the nervousness gives me energy and gets me pumped up,” Emily explains. “I am terrified of driving in bad storms, though, so that nervousness is not fun!

The opportunity to dance in the NFL has not exactly followed Emily around: No LA teams during her SC days, no cheerleaders for the Lions during her UMich time, and now, no sidelines entertaining dancers for the Bears now that she is in Chicago. Would Emily like to see the Bears with a squad, and would she pursue an NFL dream, if one of these cities would finally cooperate? “I think cheer and dance teams add so much to professional sports both for the fans and for the team, so I think the Bears would absolutely benefit from having a cheer team,” answers Emily. “I think trying out for the Bears would be a fantastic opportunity, but I love dancing for the Rush, and I can’t say that I am ready to leave this organization any time soon!“

See, one thing that comes out over and over is the sisterhood of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers, and given the importance of family to Emily, one can see why she is so connected to her ARD family. We applaud Emily’s interest of a wide range of topics, her pursuit of her dreams, and the bonds she shares with her family, friends, and squad. May Emily always be surrounded by the wonders of Carbon, be it her family and friends, charcoal cooking up some casual tailgating fun, or diamonds bejeweling her during more formal times.

Thanks so much to Emily, ARD coach Gloria Esposito, and Erin Herrmann from all of their help to UltimateCheerleaders! Here is a gallery of photos from the Rush’s last regular season home game versus Milwaukee, click once to see the entire photo, click again to see full size.

About the Author

Dave, Midwest Correspondent

Tags: AFL, Chicago Rush