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Ice Girls active on, off the ice

Steph Greegor
Fox Sports Ohio
March 30, 2012

[Watch the video]

When the Columbus Blue Jackets Ice Crew takes to cleaning the rink at Nationwide Arena during T.V. and game time-outs, most fans only see the flashy, attractive side of the girls and guys who keep the ice in prime condition.

“For the Ice Crew uniform we wanted to have something that had a ‘Wow’ factor,” said Event Presentation Manager Lynn Truitt, who’s in charge of the club’s three promo teams—the Kia Ice Crew, the Pepsi Power Patrol and the Cannon Crew. “When you see all the girls skate out, they look very put together.”

The Ice Crew used to wear pants—both girls and guys. But in January of 2011, the girls of the Ice Crew had their uniforms changed to short skirts. The shift drew a few letters of complaint to the CBJ headquarters.

“We’ve gotten feedback emails. My supervisor and I looked at them. It was a handful at the beginning of the season, which we think was an initial reaction of, ‘Oh my goodness,’” said Truitt. “We got as much negative as we did positive. For every person who didn’t like the (skimpier uniforms), we had one person who stopped us and said, ‘Those girls look great.’”

The attention to the uniforms can be a distraction to the girls wearing them, however. While the Ice Crew ladies do enjoy the performance aspect of going out in a flashy costume, they work hard behind the scenes and have more going for them than a fan might give them credit for. One gal is a hockey player herself, another is about to graduate from the engineering school at Ohio State University—and all of the co-ed Ice Crew must be in stellar physical condition to get the job done.

“They’re the ones who have to have the special skill of being able to skate well,” said Truitt of the Ice Crew. “They have to go out on the ice during time outs and intermissions, edge the boards, clear the snow, and keep the ice in prime condition and all in a very strict time limit.”

They also have pre-game duties, arriving at the Arena sometimes two hours before game time to mingle with fans in the main concourse and during intermissions with game contestants on the ice.

“My goal is always to enforce in my team’s minds that they’re one of the best ways for us to communicate with the fans, to give them a great experience; they are the face of the organization when fans come to the game,” said Truitt. “I’m making sure that’s their primary focus; that our fans are going to walk away thinking, ‘Wow I felt like I was being engaged and the employees cared about me.’”

It’s an important lesson the 23-year-old Ice Crew member Elisa Duesing has learned and has tried to incorporate in her three years as an Ice Crew member. The 5th year material science and engineering student, who graduates in June from the Ohio State University, said even when her day is tough, she comes in with a smile for the fans.

Sarah, Saundrine, and Elisa

“I’ve honestly learned that, with such a stressful schedule, there are so many times where I come to a game and I’m very low sleep and I haven’t even eaten that day or been home to collect myself, but I go to the game, and I have to go up and greet the fans and give them a good experience,” said Duesing, who also has a part-time engineering internship in addition to holding an undergrad research position. She’s also the vice president in two organizations—the OSU material and science club and the Engineer’s Council. “You have to come in and look like you’re having the best day of your life even if you just failed an exam or you’ve been in the lab for 10 hours. Some days get very crazy and stressful and you just have to remove yourself from that and focus on the game and the fans.”

But for most of the Ice Crew, the fans and the game give them the energy to get through a day. This social bunch said one of the top reasons they joined the Crew in the first place was the chance to spend time with like-minded fans.

“I’m such a people person,” said 22-year-old rookie Ice Crew member Sarah Lawson. “My grandma calls me a social butterfly.”

Lawson, who will graduate next year from OSU with a Speech and Hearing degree, said that the Blue Jackets ticket holders have taught her a great deal about what it means to be a true fan this season.

“The Blue Jackets haven’t had their best season, but I’ve loved how loyal the fans have been,” she said. “I’ve really fed off their enthusiasm and energy for the team. It really helps motivate me to always keep that enthusiasm.”

Lawson said she’ll definitely try out again for next year’s squad, and not just for the comradery, but also because she loves to skate. The job, she said, gives the once-competitive figure skater—and current ice skating instructor at the various Chiller locations—an opportunity to get paid to do something she loves. Oh—and it also helps her learn more about hockey.

“I’ve been a fan but I’ve never really played too much. I played intramural and I was the goalie,” Lawson laughed, saying she wasn’t sure how she ended up in that role on the ice. “You learn how much harder it is and how to appreciate the skills behind hockey once you do it yourself.”

That’s something 19-year-old Saundrine Lanouette can speak to from personal experience. Lanouette, a student at Columbus State Community College, is a goalie for the Ohio State University women’s hockey club — on one condition.

“I’m only allowed to play non-league games,” said Lanouette, who practices with the OSU squad and plays less than 10 games a season.

“I started skating when I was 3-years-old with my parents,” said Lanouette. “My mom told me she broke her back teaching me how to skate.”

Lanouette grew up in Maine. Until her freshman year of high school, she was required to play hockey on the boys teams because there were no women’s teams in the lower grades.

“Growing up there was always that one guy who was like, ‘Get off the ice,’” she said. “Being a girl in a male dominated sport, as a goalie, you get more respect from them; your name gets around.”

Being able to play the sport and then represent the NHL club in Columbus as an Ice Crew member is an opportunity Lanouette is thrilled to have.

“How much is fun is this job? You get to watch hockey, and you get paid for it,” she smiled. “It’s not really a job; it’s fun.”

For engineering student Duesing, representing the Columbus Blue Jackets is a dream come true that started with her father.

“I grew up around the sport; my Dad coached hockey, a traveling team, and so I was kind of the rink rat that got drug around to all my Dad’s games,” laughed Duesing. “I grew up playing with him in the driveway and would watch games and burn his ear off with all the questions I had to ask. I just really gained a high level of respect for people who made it to the NHL and that level of play. It’s been a dream come true to be able to stand down by the ice and watch the guys warm up and actually skate out on to the ice with some of the best names in the league. There are people who don’t even get to go to an NHL game and I get to work at them. I just love it.”

That enthusiasm for the sport, as well as a desire to work with fans and be good ambassadors for the club, is what Truitt said makes this team so special.

“The number one thing I would say about the teams in general, they are here because they love the Blue Jackets,” she said. “They love being a part of the game atmosphere. They love to interact with the fans as part of the organization. They love having it be their home away from home. This is a lifestyle for them; not just a side job. They really do commit themselves to the team, whether they’re a veteran of five years or it’s their first year. They just love being here.”

The Columbus Blue Jackets are now accepting applications for the Kia Ice Crew, the Pepsi Power Patrol or the Cannon Crew. Submit your photo and information at bluejackets.com/promoteams before Monday, May 14, to be considered for a tryout.

LA Kings Ice Crew Profile – Brooke

Kings Vision was on hand for the 11-12 Ice Crew calendar photo shoot! Check out this profile featuring the Ms. September, Brooke.

[Brooke at the LA Kings Website]

“Unofficials” Rebranded

The unofficial dance team of the New York Giants has a new name for the 2012-2013 season. Previously called the “UnOfficials,” the group is now the Gotham’s Team Blue Army Dancers. Gotham, obviously because it’s New York. They refer to it as the G-Team for short, which is a pretty clever way of referring to the Giants without actually saying “Giants”. The group’s name is a real mouthful. Even the acronym GTBAD is a mouthful, so my guess is they’ll be using a shortened form of that. Probably something along the lines of G-Team Dancers or Blue Army Dancers. In any case, whatever they call themselves, they will be offering workshops starting next month, in advance of their June 3 auditions. Click here for details.

Passion for the Pats

Cheerleader tries out for third season
By Jesse Roman Staff writer
Salem News
March 30, 2012

SALEM — Salem native Siobhan O’Keefe will learn tomorrow whether she is one of 25 women chosen to be a New England Patriots cheerleader for the upcoming season.

It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds. O’Keefe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been on the squad for the last two years and might seem like a shoo-in for another season.

“But every year, you have to retry out for your position,” O’Keefe said, sounding confident, but still a little anxious. “I’ve been practicing a lot and working very, very hard. I wanted to come in prepared.”

She’s up against 327 other determined women, so anything could happen.

As a Pats cheerleader, O’Keefe has already had experiences she will remember all her life.

She has been on the field in front of 70,000 fans for every Patriots home game during the last two years and was even on the turf in February at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

“It was breathtaking,” she said. “I was speechless, standing on the field next to the players tunnel and taking it all in.”

She has made television appearances and traveled the world, visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Qatar and Kyrgyzstan, and has been whisked away to exotic locales for annual calendar shoots.

Understandably, O’Keefe likes being a cheerleader for perhaps the most successful franchise in the National Football League; the position is the perfect synergy of her two passions.

“I love dancing, and I love the Patriots,” she said.

O’Keefe has danced most of her life at Dance Enthusiasm in Salem, and she captained the Salem High School cheerleading squad her senior year. She joined the UMass dance team almost immediately after arriving on campus and, on a whim, went with a few of her dance teammates to an open Patriots cheerleader tryout. After showing off her dancing for the coaches, she passed public-speaking tests, kick tests, fitness tests and other measures of ability. Then she had to get through the four-page written test all about football.

That was not a problem. Some of O’Keefe’s fondest memories are of Sunday afternoons with her family gathered around the television to watch the Pats.

“My family is really close, and we all love the Patriots,” she said. “My uncle would make a big family dinner every Sunday, and we’d get together and watch the game.”

Soon, she will be back with her family in front of the TV watching those games because even if O’Keefe does make the team tomorrow, the upcoming season will be her last. On the Patriots, there is a three-year limit for cheerleaders.

“It’s bittersweet. It will be good because it’s such a huge time commitment,” said O’Keefe, who has already signed on to be an accountant in Boston after she graduates in May. “It will be nice to have some time again, but there’s nothing like it.”

The benefits are great, but being a Patriots cheerleader is no cakewalk.

Cheerleaders must attend three-hour practices twice a week, every week. On practice days, O’Keefe spends most of the day in class at UMass, hits the gym, then drives two hours to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. When she arrives at 6 p.m., she has an hour to warm up before the rigorous three-hour practice that finishes by 10 p.m. Her day is finally over when she gets back to school at midnight.

On game days, O’Keefe gets to the stadium five hours early to go over the routines the squad has been working on through the week.

It’s that dedication, and all that time with her teammates, that will also be the hardest to let go of, she said.

“I’ll miss all the girls there. You’re working so hard in practice and sweating next to the best ladies in New England,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be surrounded by such great personalities. People who are just like you, striving for the same goals.”

And during Patriots home games, she admits, “I’m not even going to know what to do with myself.”

SI.com: Philadelphia Flyers Ice Girls

Click here to check out photos of the Flyers ice crew in action.

Worth The Wait – The 2012 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders Auditions

01 We Can Make the World Stop

For me, one of the highlights of the year is the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader auditions. It is an event that I look forward to not only because I get to photograph some of the most beautiful girls in Arizona, but I enjoy the whole vibe that Phoenix has to offer. It’s youthful, hip and a heck of a lot more friendly than my hometown, Los Angeles. And Director Heather Karberg and her staff of Cardinals Cheerleaders always make me feel welcome, so you can say their annual auditions are something that I eagerly anticipate.

And this year, it was worth the wait.

Continue reading Worth The Wait – The 2012 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders Auditions

2012 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders Announced!

The Arizona Cardinals have selected their 2012 squad.  To see who made it, click here.

And to see photos from their auditions, stay tuned…because the only place to see photos of the 2012 Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader auditions is right here!

Eagles fans help pick cheerleading finalists

By Peter Mucha

[Photo Gallery]

No way the front office would let Eagles fans help pick players.

But more than 100 season ticket holders voted Wednesday night on prospective cheerleaders.

Each of 101 young women – including a pair of identical twins and 30 members of last season’s squad – had to introduce herself and perform a dance routine at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia.

“This is the most competitive group that we’ve seen at the semifinals,” said cheerleading director Barbara Zaun, part of the panel of seven judges.

“In addition to being very beautiful and very talented dancers, they are very accomplished women in terms of their education and their careers,” she said.

The 101 were chosen from about 500 wannabes at Saturday’s Open Call auditions at Lincoln Financial Field.

Only the 2005 post-Super Bowl auditions saw more applicants.

The season ticket holders, who cast their own ballots, were quite impressed with the semifinalists, Zaun said.

The sixty finalists selected included the twins (both Drexel students) and all 30 squad members seeking to return.

They’ll compete April 24 at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. The $24 tickets for the 7:30 p.m. event are on sale through www.kimmelcenter.org.

Another fan opportunity is annual calendar shoot, scheduled tentatively for May 10 to 14 in Nassau, the Bahamas.

“This is a going to be a friends and family package, so fans who want to come along on the trip would be welcome,” Zaun said.

Details should be available soon on www.philadelphiaeagles.com, she said.

Last season, the squad debuted the NFL’s first cheerleader calendar app, and the response was great, Zaun said.

“It was incredibly popular with our fans, and we did receive a lot of recognition,” she said.

It made a Top 10 list for sports-related apps, and is up next month for a Webby award, she said.

Watch the Colts Cheerleaders Open Call Live!

Indianapolis Colts
Mar 23, 2012

New this year: your chance to get an inside look at cheerleader auditions!

Join us for the first round of the Colts Cheerleaders’ 2012 auditions—will your favorites have what it takes to become a Sweetheart of the Horseshoe? Tune in live at colts.com/live on Saturday, March 31st starting at 9:30 a.m.!

2011-12 Detroit Pistons Dancers

I was beginning to wonder if the Pistons were ever going to update their website with the 2011-12 dance team. At last, they finally have. Click here to check the Detroit Pistons Dancers.

2012 Eagles cheerleader tryouts: Round 2

Philly.com: The second round of auditions for the 2012 Eagles cheerleaders was held on Wednesday, March 24 at the NovaCare Complex. The field of 120 contestants was narrowed down to 60. [Watch the video]

Scenes from Eagles Cheerleader Tryouts

Click here to check out Delaware Online’s gallery of photos from last Saturday’s open call audition.

Photos: Houston Dynamo Girls tryouts

March 10, 2012

Dancers from all over the Houston area gathered at the University of Houston-Downtown Student Life Center Saturday to try out for the 2012 Dynamo Girls squad.

[photo gallery]

Houston Dynamo host annual “Dynamo Girls” auditions

News Fix Houston
March 12, 2012

[Watch the video]

HOUSTON, TX—The annual Houston Dynamo Girls auditions took center stage on Saturday, March 10 at the University of Houston downtown campus.

The Dynamo finalized their roster on the soccer field, now it’s the ladies turn to complete their line-up on the dance floor.

“When you start going you’re like, ‘am I getting it? Oh my God.’ You kind of like freak out,” Alejandra Leal, a Dynamo Girls hopeful, said with a smile.

It would be easy to freak out, especially since there’s “a lot of choreography that they’re actually learning [on the spot],” Luisa Baquero, a Dynamo Girls co-captain, said.

They’re learning fast in hopes of earning their spot to perform at Dynamo home games.

The Dynamo Girls roster isn’t finalized just yet.

“We’ll have two weeks of interviews and after that we’ll hold our final auditions on March 24, and we’ll make our selection the following day,” Marilu Harman, a Houston Dynamo dance team director and former Dallas Mavericks dancer, said.

OK ladies when is the last time the Dynamo won the MLS Cup?

“Now you’re putting me on the spot,” said Leal smiling when asked by the Fix.

Tabitha Fuller, a Dynamo Girls hopeful, responded with “2007”. That’s correct. In fact, the Dynamo won back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007.

“If you’re going into a Houston soccer team, you need to know something about it,” Lithia Garcia, a Dynamo Girls hopeful and student at University of Houston, said.

Garcia is right, too.

Best of luck to the ladies, and, hey, if things don’t work out, “You’ve got to keep getting out auditioning, taking classes. The more you try it, the closer you get to your goal. And you can be a professional cheer leader if that’s what you ultimately want to be,” said Harman.
To whoever ultimately makes the cut, congratulations from the Fix.

2012 Dynamo Girls Tryouts presented by Palais Royal

Last Saturday, the Houston Dynamo held their annual Dynamo Girls Tryouts, presented by Palais Royal for the 2012 season. More than 100 girls attended the tryouts, but only 40 were selected for the final audition to be held on March 24.