UCLA’s March Madness

It’s that time of year again, college basketball annual hoops fest formally known as March Madness. Sixty four of the nation’s best college basketball teams competing for the elusive NCAA Championship trophy. March Madness is also a showcase of the some of the nation’s best college cheerleading and dance teams. Throughout the years, one squad has garnered perhaps the most attention on the court, UCLA’s Dance Team.

Once the subject of a 1981 Sports Illustrated article entitled, Eight Beauties and a Beat, the UCLA Dance Team, then called Song Girls, popularized the more glamorous, NBA style uniforms that are de rigueur today. That squad featured a future Miss USA and Miss Universe Runner Up, in Julie Hayek. It was also a squad that was very popular amongst opposing fans and sportswriters who increasingly began to take notice during the Bruins 1980 Final Four run in Indianapolis .

And though UCLA’s basketball fortunes have waxed and waned since then, one constant remains…the glamour and beauty of the UCLA Dance Team. Here are a few photos of the current UCLA Dance Team.



Building for the Future

By Frank Jolley
The Daily Commerical

Deanna Clover has been a performer for as long as she can remember.

She has performed in dinner theaters, danced on cruise ships and as a member of the dance teams for the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League and the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

Clover’s lifetime on stage has allowed her to travel the world as a promotional tool for the NBA and the Magic, and reached a peak this year when she was chosen to represent the team in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition.

Feeling the aches and pains from years of performing and realizing she had likely accomplished as much as she could as a dancer, Clover decided that this year, her fifth with the Magic, would be her final season.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Clover is leaving a business she has devoted most of her life to. Instead of dancing in the limelight, Clover is looking to move into the wings as the dance-team coordinator for the fledgling Leesburg Thundercats professional basketball team.

Clover accepted an offer from Thundercats’ owner Kevin Simmons in December to become the franchise’s first dance-team coordinator. She held tryouts throughout the county and the seven-dancer team was unveiled recently during Eustis’ Georgefest parade.


“Part of my job is to get the Thundercats name out in the public and let them know we’re bringing professional basketball to Lake County,” Clover said. “We’re going to do that by performing at games and by giving dance clinics in the community. We want to be an active part of the community and become a positive influence for young people.

“This team is going to help develop the image people have of the Thundercats, so we want to make a very good impression and be a staple in the community.”

Clover said she decided to make this season her final year as a Magic dancer after suffering a torn labrum and assessing the amount of wear and tear her body has endured over the years. She recently turned 30, and while there is no age limit to be a Magic dancer, the grueling annual auditions to make the team were taking their toll.

Also, because of her commitments to the Magic, Clover was not spending as much time with her family. She has been married for nine years to her husband, Cliff, who she met when she danced on a cruise ship.

In addition to her dancing duties, Clover works part-time at her husband’s real estate business in Kissimmee and she also has taught dance classes at a studio in in Kissimmee.

“The commitment with the Thundercats will not be as big at the Magic,” Clover said. “Outside of the public relations functions, such as giving clinics or taking part in parades, there will be only 15 home games with the Thundercats as opposed to the 41 home games for the Magic. I’m really excited about the possibility of being able to spend more time with my family.”

VODEC Squad Jumps into Iowa State Games

From NonPareilOnline.com

The Vocational Development Center in Council Bluffs will have a cheerleading squad competing in the Iowa State Games of the Special Olympics for the first time ever.

This year’s games will be held Saturday in Iowa City.

Even though this will be its first time competing in the event, the team has an edge. One of the coaches is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Tami Barker was part of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad from 1977 to 1980 and performed at two Superbowls.

“I was born with pom-poms in my hand,” said Barker, who also ran a cheerleading school for elementary students for 11 years. “I didn’t know much about special needs individuals when my friend (residential services assistant), Rheanna Webber, asked me to help with the team, so we set up a meet and greet,” she said. “Instantly, I saw this was going to be the most amazing thing in my life.”

The squad consists of VODEC clients Sarah Arnold, Lori Brandenburg, Elise Collins, Maurice Haywood, Noah Judkins, Trisha McPartland, Marlo Spencer and Sharon Vaughn. Ashlie Autera, residential services assistant, is helping Barker with the coaching duties.

“This is the first time we’ve participated in cheerleading,” Autera said. “They’re all excited and doing really well. We practice the routine every week. We’re thrilled to have Tami as a volunteer coach. She’s absolutely outstanding, and she knows what she’s doing. On top of that, she’s very dedicated to our clients – and they just love her!”

Barker believes she is getting just as much, if not more, from this experience as the athletes.

“I had no idea how good this was going to make me feel,” she said. “I had some stereotypes in my mind, and they’ve all been smashed. They are eight over-the-top personalities. They make me laugh, and their love is unconditional.”

VODEC is a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with disabilities so that those individuals may live, work and participate in the community to achieve their fullest potential.


Axe Maiden Auditions

By Tracy Collins
Florida Times-Union

With the first batch of ROAR auditions behind them, dozens of Jaguars cheerleader hopefuls have visions of black and teal pom-poms dancing in their heads. Unfortunately, come Saturday, some will wake up to realize it was just a dream. Fortunately, starting Monday, these same women – and others – can start a new dream … Axe Maiden auditions.


It’s not a step back, it’s just a step

I first met Barracuda-Ice-Girl-turned-Jaguars-cheerleader-turned-Axe-Maiden-director Darlene Clancy (far right in the photo) years ago when she related her story to me about how she would have never tried out for the ROAR had it not been for the Ice Girls. It was just the right mix of relationships, practices, confidence boost and street cred she needed to excel in her audition later that landed her in the coveted spotted uniform on Alltel field. Now, she’s helping others reach their goals, whether that means just fulfilling the dream of becoming a cheerleader or using it as a stepping stone to the NFL squad.

Semi-pro has advantages

Let’s be honest, becoming a cheerleader for the Jacksonville Axemen Rugby Team has its privileges: Cute players, outrageous fans, and I got two words for owner Spinner Howard’s Aussie accent … yum and yum. It’s like Keith Urban on steroids. The whole organization is just sweet, pure, feel-good fun.

Better hurry if you want in

Do not delay if you want to jump on this dance train, workshops start Monday … yes, Monday, as in March 23! Email JaxAxeMaidens@hotmail.com for audition application and information and check out the AUDITION FLYER on the Axemen web site!



Baltimore Blast Cheerleaders


Back when Ken Martin directed the Baltimore Blast Cheerleaders, he was responsible for my first invitation to cover a game as a member of the “media”.  Ken now runs The USA Cheerleaders.


Kixx Dancers

The KiXX were the first team to allow me behind the scenes access for audition coverage and the first team to give me a full season media pass.


Jillian and Liz

And current Director of the Blast Cheerleaders Elizabeth Guaraldo made the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders at the first NFL Cheerleader Audition I ever attended.

So it’s kind of fitting that my first post at UltimateCheerleaders.com is on the Baltimore Blast Cheerleaders with a bonus appearance by the Philadelphia KiXX Dance Team.

Back on March 7th, I made the trip down I-95 to Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena to see the Blast take on their NISL rivals the Philadelphia KiXX. Also making the trip were members of the Philadelphia KiXX Dance Team, who cheered on their team from the stands.

[Balitmore Blast Cheerleaders]

[Philadelpha KiXX Dance Team]