Ultimate Cheerleaders

On Saturday, March 18th I attended the Chiller Convention  in Parsippany, New Jersey.  While at the convention I was able to catch up with  former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader (and SF 49ers Gold Rush and Golden State Warrior Girl – james) and current Los Angles Lakers scout Bonnie-Jill Laflin.  Bonnie-Jill was on hand throughout the weekend convention meeting fans, signing autographs, and posing for pictures.

Bonnie-Jill has been very busy since her days with the Cowboys Cheerleaders.  She is an actress, model, sports broadcaster, and made history by becoming the first female scout in the history of the NBA.  Bonnie-Jill currently is a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and owns three NBA Championship rings.  She is also the Assistant General Manager for the Lakers developmental team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

While talking with Bonnie-Jill I just had to get her insight into the NBA Playoffs.  When I asked her how she felt about the upcoming playoffs she replied, “I’m anxious for the up coming playoffs and hoping for a successful championship run for the Lakers.”

It was great to catch up with Bonnie-Jill and her fans can rest assured that she is still the same beautiful woman with a great personality that loves her fans.  Fans can to find out more about Bonnie-Jill by checking her website at:  www.bonnie-jill.com


It has been a while since I was in college, but I still have a recurring dream that it is finals week, and somehow I find out that I forgot to drop a class that I had stopped attending way at the beginning of the semester. Feverishly, I try to figure out what I should do: talk to the school?; cram and take the final to try and save an F?; oh no!! And then I wake up, breathing a deep sigh of relief that school is long completed, and my degrees are still intact.


These kinds of recurring dreams made me wonder if the pro cheerleaders and dancers had dreams about their high profile activity. Certainly, if I was in their dancing shoes, I think I would dream about things like ending up in center court with the wrong outfit (I used to have a recurring dream about walking into high school in my pajamas), stuck in the locker room feverishly trying to change with a bad zipper as the squad is announced for their performance, or being pelted by an out of control t-shirt cannon.

Jarin and Seazun

So that was my question of the night for the Pacemates prior to the Pacers game against Toronto on April 9th, “Have you ever had any dreams about being a Pacemate while you slept?” Jarin and Seazun were signing autographs on the lower level concourse. Jarin said she has definitely had dreams where she messed up if she was nervous about a new dance. Seazun also concurred that if she ever has a dream, it’s about an upcoming dance because she is usually nervous about the those she doesn’t know yet.

Erin and Brittany D.

Erin and Brittany D were signing autographs on the upper level concourse. Erin said she can never remember her dreams because so is so tired by the end of the day between work and practice that she sleeps pretty soundly and blocks it all out. Brittany agreed that she has not had dreams about being on the court. I told Erin and Brittany that they must be very secure in their dancing.

But my BIG question of the night as the season neared an end for the Pacemates was whether they would try out again next year or whether these were the last games for some great performers. Seazun, Jarin, Erin, and Brittany all reported that they will be back at try-outs for next season (fill in the sound of me pumping my fist and exclaiming a Marv Albert-ish- YES!), and the word on the street was 6-year veteran and captain Melanie would be back too (double YES!). Forget about those nasty dreams, it appears there will be another Pacemate Dream Team in the making!

As usual, the Pacemates did an excellent job on the court, and I have to give Center Court standout of the game to Jessica P. Besides her great dancing and charming demeanor, during the Pacemates’ third quarter routine, they wore masks, but Jessica’s smile was immediately detectable, proving no disguise can hide that.

And remember, the Pacemates have some cool stories of their own on their blog, Pacemates Confidential:

[Pacemates Confidential]

[Indiana Pacemates]

Fort Wayne experienced some of its basketball past and its basketball present during a game in February at the Wayne County War Memorial Coliseum. Fort Wayne is home for one the NBA-D League franchises, the Mad Ants. Now, frankly, I had no idea why Fort Wayne would be known for ants and what would make them so mad.

Is Fort Wayne known for tidy picnics? Turns out, Fort Wayne (both the city and the actual fort) is named for General Anthony Wayne, who was known as “Mad Anthony.” I guess he was known for having a bit of a temper. See, sports can entertain AND inform. So, the team is named for him, in a fun, kinda, sorta way, as the “Mad Ants.” So the Mad Ants are Fort Wayne’s basketball present, and we hope are the future, because they seem like a really cool organization.


Each NBA-D teams is affiliated with one or more NBA teams, and that’s where Fort Wayne’s basketball “past” comes in. One of the teams that the Mad Ants are affiliated with is the Detroit Pistons. However, they weren’t always the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons began life as the Fort Wayne Pistons, from 1941 until they moved to Detroit in 1957. The Pistons had a colorful history in Fort Wayne of enthusiastic fans, winning teams, and rumors of point shaving and throwing games.

One of the great things about many of the NBA-D franchises is that they often host “affiliate nights,” when the entertainment squads of their parent NBA franchises come for a visit. The Mad Ants had the Bucks entertainment groups, including the Energee, visiting in January; the Pistons night, including the Automotion dance squad, was in February; and Pacers affiliate night with their mascots is in March. So the Pistons affiliate night was a great opportunity to see the home town dance squad, the Madame Ants, and the visiting Automotion.


The Madame Ants are lead by dance team coach Sheenah Johnson, who IS dance in Fort Wayne. Sheenah is a former Indiana Pacemate, the coach of the squads at Snider High School and Indiana Tech at the college level, and is one of the co-owners of a family owned innovative dance studio. But, in the tradition of great player-coaches like Bill Russell, she is not just coach, she is dancer-coach, out there performing with her Madame Ants squad.


On this night, fans entering the arena were greeted by the Madame Ants, who were handing out free stuff to fans, like Mad Ants towels and other stuff to wave and bother free throw shooters. There was live music also, to which the talented Madame Ants couldn’t help but move to the beat as they greeted fans.

As the starting line-ups were introduced, the lights went down, and the Madame Ants were joined by the Automotion, and the spot lights hit both squads. The Automotion is an impressive group, and I would think, certainly the best of the best dancers in Detroit. I cannot think of another city with all of the “Big 4” sports that only has one dance squad, other than the Automotion being THE dance squad in Detroit. Director Rebecca Girrard has put together a wonderful squad of talented, personable, friendly, outgoing, and classy dancers, who represent their team and city brilliantly.

At my first NBA-D game, I soon learned it was not a laid back affair. Sitting behind the scorer’s table, we all jumped when the Mad Ant’s coach slammed his fist on the table in reaction to a referee’s call. A little of the Mad Anthony’s demeanor was in the house.

It was double the fun, double the talent, double the beauty, having both the Automotion and Madame Ants performing on the court. The Automotion really put on a show, not only performing their routines, but serving as competitors against fans during game breaks. Pairs of dancers participated in both a piggyback race and a race where they had carry basketballs between their mid-sections and race sideways. At halftime, the Automotion signed autographs on the concourse to the pleasure and appreciation of the Fort Wayne locals.

My Center Court Standout of the game for the Madame Ants was Carly, who not only is a fun and excellent performer on the court, but was grooving to the live music in the concourse before the game, showing her dancer’s soul. But the entire Madame Ants squad is great, and it was a pleasure to get to see them.

Selecting the Center Court Standout of the game for the Automotion was equally tough, so I have to go with co-Standouts. Three year vet Megan shines on the court and was full of smiles as she participated in the races against fans. Also, one is immediately struck by Rene, a tall beautiful dancer, who also is a native of Indiana. Rene was “back home again in Indiana,” and, along with her squad and the Madame Ants, made it a true celebration of great dance squads.