From The Archives – Raiderette Michelle Budano

In this installment of From The Archives, we focus our attention on Raiderette Michelle Budano. Michelle and her sister Melissa were Raiderettes in the mid 1990’s when the Raiders played their games in the venerable Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

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You can tell how old these photos are by the track on the field, a legacy from the 1984 Olympics and beyond.

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I mentioned in a previous From The Archives article that back in the day, the Raiderettes were very accessible and had their own following in the community.  Many of them were local models that made the Southern California Photo Days circuit and were regularly featured in magazines such as HotRodder and other such lifestyle magazines.  Many of us remember these girls from these events and if I recall correctly, one enterprising Raiderette sponsored her own photo day shoot with the Raiderettes…regretfully, I missed that one.

Baby News!

Former Charger Girl Summer (’04-’09), one of my all time favorites, is expecting a baby boy in November! Let us all wish Summer, her husband Lennie and the new baby to be health, happiness and good fortune.

And just in case you’ve forgotten what Summer looks like, here are a few photos of her “back in the day”.

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To see more photos of Summer, please check out my new blog, The Hottest Dance Team in the NFL.

Another Year, Another Season of NFL Football

Ah, preseason football!  It’s what a football fan eagerly awaits, the start of another year of football.  Well, not exactly for me.  Preseason football is, in a word, terrible.  But as a season ticket holder, I pay full price for these less than NFL caliber football games.  So, I was more interested in checking out the new Charger Girl squad than the Charger’s third and fourth stringers.  Let’s see how the new squad shapes up.

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As a new season is upon us, let me introduce the 2009 Charger Girl Line Captains, Ashlie, Marlina, Marisa, and Tonya.

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Last year, I introduced a new feature, the Charger Girl of the Day.  And this year, we will continue to recognize the Charger Girl who provided the most memorable photograph of the day.  Though I had a few to choose from, one image stood out.  Presenting this week’s CGOTD, rookie Amanda.

Author’s note:  a kindly reader pointed out that this lovely Charger Girl is actually named Victoria.  Unfortunately, I based my information on the Chargers.com original audition finals photo identification, as the organization has not updated their website with up to date Charger Girl bios.  Please forgive the confusion.

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Let’s begin the introductions with the returning Veterans: Brittany W, Heather, Giselle, Jacquelyn, Nicole L., Nicole M., Ashley, Michelle, and Vanesa.

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This year, there are thirteen rookie Charger Girls.  They are: Katherine, Lauren, Carly S., Belinda, Melanie, Tiffany, Amanda, Natalie, Kimberly, Andrea, Brittany R., Emily, and Kate.  Unfortunately, I did not see Kate on the sidelines, so there is no photo of her.

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And we have two former Charger Girls making a return appearance on the squad, Carly N. and Casie.

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You may remember Casie from the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs a few years ago.  She and Shantel won the whole darn thing!  Glad to see her back in the uniform.

Well, a new NFL season is upon us and I am eagerly awaiting the start of the regular season, when we get to see some real football.  But for now, I’ll have to content myself and pass the preseason by watching some real cheerleading.  Go Charger Girls!

For more Charger Girl articles and photos, check out my new Charger Girls blog, The Hottest Dance Team in the NFL.

From The Archives – Charger Girl Danielle Ditonto

In this installment of From The Archives, I introduce one of my all time favorite Charger Girls, Danielle Ditonto. Photographically speaking, cheerleaders with great smiles always make for an interesting and compelling photograph and Danielle always had a smile on her face.

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This photo of Danielle shows her in the Charger Girl throwback uniform, worn when the Charger players wore their throwback uniforms.  I don’t think the Charger Girls ever wore uniforms like these officially and I was never a fan of this college style uniform.  But I included it here since they don’t wear these outfits anymore and we should have a visual record of such things.

And continuing our theme of beautiful and intelligent cheerleaders, Danielle Ditonto became an accountant after she hung up the pom poms.  Wow.  And I always thought accounting was boring.

From The Archives – USC Song Girl Erin Gielow

I have been photographing cheerleaders since my college days at UCLA.  Through the years, I have attended many USC vs UCLA football games and have had the honor to photograph several of these titanic struggles between the Good and the Evil. I have to say that USC has arguably the finest cheerleaders/dance team in college football.  Certainly the USC Song Girls are the most renown.  And in this installment of From The Archives, we take a look back to 1996 and 1998 and feature one of the most memorable USC Song Girls, Erin Gielow.

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Why was she so memorable?  Well, she had a certain flair and personality that shined through her dancing, a special quality that all exceptional cheerleaders possess.  She was one of those cheerleaders that just demanded your attention. (And yes, I know they are called Song Girls!)

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Beauty and brains.  I did a search on the internet before writing this article and discovered that Erin is currently employed as a lawyer, which reinforces the perception of cheerleaders as being very motivated and achievement oriented.

And on a footnote, unfortunately for Song Girl Erin…UCLA beat USC those two years that these photographs were taken.  GO BRUINS!

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From The Archives – Raiderette Kelly Morris

In this installment of From The Archives, I introduce my all time favorite Raiderette, Kelly Morris.  These photographs were taken in the mid 1990’s with my old film camera and a 300 2.8 super telephoto lens (you know those big white lenses, the sports photographers use to shoot football games).  Back in the “good ol’ days” before 9/11, you could take in pretty much any camera equipment that you wanted…at least that was the case at the Los Angeles Coliseum.  Though Raiders fans have a rather surly reputation, safety and security were never a problem in the Coliseum because of the number of uniformed LAPD officers that patrolled the sidelines.  In fact, the season ticket holders in the row in front of me, were LAPD.  So, I never felt unsafe at the Coliseum, though there was once incident where those off duty LAPD officers spotted a Raider fan with a handgun in his pants…he was promptly escorted out by the uniformed LAPD.

But enough of my Raider anecdotes and on to the photos of my all time favorite Raiderette Kelly Morris.

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The great thing about a Raiders home game was that the Raiderettes mingled with the fans before the game, signing autographs and posing for photos.  They were accessible, friendly, and very good looking.   You could really get up close and get to know them; it was a very close knit experience.  The Raiderettes and their fans were family.   Those were the days, back in the 90’s…it was a different time and place.

From The Archives – College Edition

In this installment of From The Archives, I share a few photographs from a post-college days road trip to Norman, Oklahoma.  In 1986, UCLA traveled to Oklahoma to play the Sooners and a friend in UCLA’s Sports Information Department secured a media credential for me to photograph the game.  It was early September and the weather was very hot and very humid, typical for that part of the country.  Jamelle Holieway, a local boy from Carson, CA, was the starting QB for the Sooners.  The Bruins fans who made the trek to Norman, Oklahoma were optimistic that we could put up a good fight against the perennial college football powerhouse Sooners, but we were to be disappointed.

UCLA scored the first three points of the game and then surrendered the next 38 points to the better conditioned Sooners.  It was quite apparent after the first quarter, that the day was going to be long, so I turned my attention to the OU Pom squad.  One girl in particular caught my eye.  Blonde and beautiful, she was as photogenic as they come.  So, the day was not a total loss.

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I would later discover that she was the daughter of OU Basketball Coach Billy Tubbs.  Her name, Taylor Tubbs.  Oh, to be young and in college again.

From The Archives – Charger Girl Shelby C.

In the early 90’s, I was a Los Angeles Raiders season ticket holder and when Al Davis packed his bags and went back north to Oakland, I decided to check out a few San Diego Charger games to get my fill of NFL football.  In this installment of From the Archives, I present one of my earliest photographs of the Charger Girls, taken with my old Canon film camera.

The environment at old Jack Murphy Stadium was much more family friendly than the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the excitement and pagentry of the NFL was so compelling that I soon became a San Diego Charger season ticket holder.  Of course, the Charger Girls were also one of the reasons for becoming a Charger fan, as you can tell from this photograph of Shelby C. from the mid 90’s.

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Check out how high the waist is on this version of the venerable Charger Girl skirt!  It’s almost Victorian by modern day standards, but still, perhaps, my favorite version of the uniform.

Coming To A Beach Near You – The AVP Dancers

Owing to the success of the 2004 Athens Olympics beach volleyball cheerleaders, the AVP has added a professional dance team to their beach volleyball tour.  Featuring a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, a former San Diego Charger Girl and a former Laker Girl, the AVP Dancers will premiere at the 2009 AVP Crocs Slam Bud Light Manhattan Beach Open this week.

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AVP Dancer Kortney
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AVP Dancer Nancy
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AVP Dancer Makenzi

Coincidentially, I have had the good fortune to photograph three of the AVP Dancers over the course of my photographic travels.

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Kortney as a Charger Girl

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Makenzi as a DCC

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Nancy as a Laker Girl

So, if you are in Southern California this weekend, head on over to Manhattan Beach and check out the AVP Dancers.

From the Archives – Raiderette Anjanette Ayabari

This installment of From the Archives features one of my favorite Raiderettes, Anjanette Ayabari.  Like many Raiderettes, her exotic good looks led to a career in the entertainment field, most notably in the Philippines.

The Raiderette uniform has undergone minor changes throughout the years, but this version from the early 1990s is what comes to my mind when I think of the Raiderettes.  Like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders uniform, the Raiderette uniform is a cheerleading classic.