The latest edition of Aubrey Aquino’s On The Flipside covers NBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, Michael Jordan’s golf tournament in The Bahamas, and the Florida Marlins Mermaids Auditions.
Click through to watch an HD version of the show.
by Katherine Greene
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 24, 2009
Fame hit Gilbert’s Kayla Oberg when she least expected it.
The “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit model was at the grocery store with no make-up on, wet hair and glasses. She was putting the contents of her cart on the conveyor belt to check out when the older man in front of her asked when the new “Sports Illustrated” was coming out.
“I was like, ‘Please, don’t look this way!'” she said.
She turned her face away and forgot to take all of the items out of her cart.
“I’ve never stolen anything in my entire life and here I was about to jack a Valentine’s Day card,” she said, giggling. “I was so nervous.”
Oberg, a Phoenix Suns dancer, is one of ten NBA dancers featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. It hit newsstands Feb. 11.
Oberg said she got a wave of text messages the day before that, when the photos went online.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” she said.
The Time Inc.-owned magazine chose Oberg after seeing photos of her published on the NBA Web site, she said. Last year, the magazine featured 10 NFL cheerleaders.
The shyness Oberg experienced in the grocery store isn’t normal for her, she said. Four years of work as a NBA dancer helped her get comfortable in front of the Sports Illustrated cameras during the 13-hour shoot, even in her skivvies.
“When you dance for the Suns you have to have 100 percent confidence. Otherwise, you couldn’t get out there,” she said.
The toughest part of the photo shoot wasn’t getting in front of the cameras, she said; it was waiting to see the photos afterward.
The magazine’s representative showed Oberg only one photo two days before the photos went online.
“I’m actually more nervous that it’s out, knowing everyone can see it,” she said.
Oberg was born in Mesa and grew up in Gilbert, attending Gilbert High School and enrolling in Arizona State University for a short time. Her husband of 10 months owns the Stax Burger Bistro in Scottsdale.
Her husband and father were a little wary of Oberg having the photos taken, but they’ve both been supportive, she said.
“They’re just so proud of me,” she said.
Oberg has wanted to be a performer almost all her life. The passion started when she was 4, in a dance class taught by Amy Mickelson, golfer Phil’s wife.
Amy Mickelson was a dancer for the Suns at the time, Oberg said, and it inspired her to perform. As soon as Oberg was old enough to audition, she did – and made it. The first year she was part of the team, the Mickelsons attended a game.
“I was so excited,” she said. “I don’t even think she recognized me.”
Oberg has made the team every year since.
She doesn’t see much of a future for herself in modeling, Oberg said. Her 5’2″ frame limits where she can apply. Most modeling agencies ask that you not send in photos unless you’re 5’9″, she said.
And her addiction to the food at her husband’s restaurant has her a little worried about the future of her figure, she said. To stay in shape, she walks her two puppies every other day. But she also has dance practice twice a week and performances during games that help her stay slim.
If any modeling jobs come her way, she’d jump at the chance, she said.
And she hopes to have kids in the next few years, she said.
Meanwhile, she’ll stick with dancing.
Click here to see her Sports Illustrated video.
By Phil Friedman, Correspondent
The Daily Breeze
As you look out on the court at Staples Center Friday night, you will see Laker Girl Stefanie. She embodies what Laker Girls director Lisa Estrada and the Laker Girls are all about. Beautiful young ladies, who put in endless hours on their routines to entertain throngs of Laker fans.
The Laker Girls are dedicated to making a difference in their communities, participating in everything from events encouraging youngsters to read to Christmas fishing trips for homeless children. The Laker Girls are smart, beautiful, hard-working and civic-minded ladies.
It’s hard to believe when you watch Stefanie perform her routines or help a child to read that deep down she is also a hard-core angler.
Stefanie grew up in Alaska, where fishing is second nature.
“Everyone, men and women, fish and hunt in Alaska,” Stefanie said.
Her father, Lewis, loved fishing more than anything and the fact he could do it with his daughter made these angling excursions even more special. Lewis had a plane that transported them to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of our 49th state.
Stefanie was 6 months old when her father took her on her first fishing trip. With that first trip with her father, she was hooked. Fishing became the activity the two could do together. Sometimes they would make a day of it and other times the adventure would last several days camping out in the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness.
“My dad would fish all night long,” she said. “It’s as if he just couldn’t get enough.”
Stefanie even had a favorite spot.
“I don’t even remember exactly where it was but it was like an enchanted garden with clear water with beautiful boulders,” she said. “I just loved being there, and my dad knew it.
“If I didn’t feel like going fishing, all my dad would have to say is, `I’ll take you to your favorite spot.’ The next thing I knew, we were in the plane.”
She has compiled a great list catches that include numerous king salmon to 30 pounds, halibut to 70 pounds, a 30-pound lingcod, trout, even a shark.
“I just love to be on the water,” she said. “There is nothing more beautiful and peaceful than a day on the water,” the Laker Girl said.
But for the 23-year-old beauty , the best thing about fishing is the time she spent with her father.
“It (fishing) gave us something to do together,” she said. “Fishing made us and has kept us close through today and beyond.”
Although Stefanie says her heart is still in Alaska, it’s only there for the summer.
“It’s just too cold for me now,” she said. “My dad said I was made for Southern California.”
Fish talk: “Sportfishing Saturday” with Philip Friedman airs at 9 a.m. on KLAC (570 AM) and will have Bart Hall and Mike Lum as guests from the Fred Hall Fishing, Tackle and Boat Show this week. They will be discussing all the great sights and sounds of what many call the greatest fishing show on earth, set to open March 4 at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Matt Simmons also will be part of the show to talk about a memorial fishing trip for his father, SWAT officer Randall Simmons. The trip is scheduled for Feb.28 out of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach.
The Detroit News
February 24, 2009
What’s it like to be in the glamorous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition? Ask Rochester’s own Chelsey Buhler.
Buhler is a member of the Pistons’ dance team Automotion and is featured along with nine other NBA dancers inside the pages of the popular publication, currently on newsstands. This is the first time SI has featured NBA dancers in its swimsuit edition. In the past, the magazine has featured NFL cheerleaders.
“I am really happy and honored,” says 21-year-old Buhler.
Rebecca Girard, Automotion’s dance team director, chose Buhler because of her commitment to the organization. And while being genetically gifted helped, Girard says Buhler is more than a pretty face. “She is just an amazing ambassador for us. She is well-spoken, a business woman who has gone on countless appearances for us, and helps to give us the voice that we need.”
When not helping the 19-member dance team hype-up Pistons fans in the stands, Buhler attends Oakland University, where she is a junior majoring in communications. She also works as a dance teacher and works as an administrative assistant at her father’s company.
“Right now, I just focus on each moment, going to school and getting good grades,” says Buhler.
She says family and friends are proud of her but it was a little odd for at least one person. “My dad wasn’t too happy at first, but he got over it and he was the first one to go out and find the issue,” says Buhler.
Since news has spread that she is not only in Sports Illustrated and on the publication’s Web site, sportsillustrated.cnn .com, people are giving her more than the second and third looks that she is probably used to.
“People are coming up to me at Pistons games,” she says. “I have had 800 friend requests on Facebook.”
Friday the 13th was unlucky for the Wings as they lost a defensive struggle to the visiting Boston Blazers 8-4.
In the tunnel before the game
The Angels signature move
Captain Stephanie takes the field at the end of the 1st quarter.
At halftime fans lined up for Angels autogrpahs
Stopping by to visit was former Angel Amy, who last danced for the team in 2007.
Marie and Mad Dog
The rest of the photos here.
On February 22bd fans and members of the Axe Maidens boarded a big red double-decker bus for their first Pub Crawl around Jacksonville. Riding on the bus was a lot of fun even though it was windy in the upper deck, and made for some funny pictures. Axe Maidens, Erinn, Amy and Keana took advantage of the scenery along the St Johns River to take some beautiful photos.
Along the way there was raffles with prizes that included a hat owned by Russell Crowe, Jacksonville Axemen season tickets and the opportunity to be a guest judge at the Axe Maidens auditions. In addition, everyone on the bus was given a special Axe Maidens Pub Crawl t-shirt thanks to our sponsors Vivid Images USA Inc. (Screen printing, embroidered apparel & hats)
Former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Emily Kuchar and Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke are engaged.
For 7 1/2 years, since high school at Apopka (Fla.) High, Greinke has been in a relationship with Emily Kuchar. She’s a bright, energetic former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, a dancer and a model, and Miss Daytona Beach USA 2008. Emily even has her own
And now, at last, Zack and Emily are going to be married.
“Sometime this offseason,” he said. “She tried to make it Oct. 10. I told her, ‘That’s probably not going to work out, Emily. You know how much trouble I could get in if you do that? Please push it back.'”
Clearly, in the world of Zack, that part of the calendar is marked “Playoffs.”
This week’s Sports Illustrated NBA Dance Team gallery features the New Jersey Nets Dancers. Go there now to check out the game day action!
Stacie Gazonas has cheered for the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers and performed in the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl. In a Professional Cheerleader Blog exclusive, Stacie discusses her experiences as an NFL cheerleader and answers the question, “is there life after cheerleading?”
Early Dance Background
Stacie Gazonas grew up in Lenexa, Kansas about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City. She started taking dance classes at the young age of 3 and began designing leotards for her dance studio at age 13. After being crowned Miss Dance Heart America, Stacie went on to dance on a cruise ship at the age of 19, performing in Las Vegas style productions. She accepted a dance scholarship to the University of Arizona, but quickly realized that she didn’t need a degree in dance to perform in front of a live audience, and changed her major to fashion design, her second love.
While in college, a friend suggested that she tryout for the Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders, a squad that she made at the ripe old age of 18. It was the start of a long and distinguished career in professional cheerleading. Stacie has said that being a professional cheerleader has really shaped who she is today and has blessed her with the ability to combine her passion for dance and fashion design into a lifelong career.
PCB: Why did you become an NFL cheerleader?
SG: I became an NFL cheerleader because I really missed dancing when I was in college and my passion was always in performing, not necessarily in taking ballet classes. My dream came true when I stepped onto the field at Arrowhead stadium for the first time as a Chiefs cheerleader and performed before 80,000 people. I had chills up and down my spine.
My favorite part about cheerleading was the friendships I made on the squad and dancing in front of such a huge crowd. I loved every minute of it! It was all very glamorous too. At the age of 18, not a lot of women are able to have their hair and make up done for them or have a total makeover to really polish their look. The Chiefs cheerleaders always set a standard of being a classy cheerleading team and not to portray themselves like the many stereotypes of professional cheerleaders.
PCB: For many girls, tryouts can be daunting. Please tell us about your tryout experiences and what it was like to make the Charger Girls
SG: It was crazy! There were approximately 400 girls at tryouts and I believe there was a handful that had cheered for other NFL teams. I was so nervous and anxious…the waiting process almost killed me. In my case, I was in a different position than a lot of girls because I knew what it was like to be on an NFL team, so I knew exactly what I was going for and what I had to lose if I didn’t make it. I knew how my life was going to change if I made the squad and I missed it (professional cheerleading) so much I couldn’t wait to be on a team again.
PCB: How competitive was the audition process and what do you think led to your selection?
SG: The audition was very competitive. Some of these girls try out year after year and know the exact process. I made sure that I looked like a Charger Girl with my hair, make-up, fitness, and attire. I wanted the judges to look at me and say, “she looks like a Charger Girl”. I definitely think my dance ability helped me stand out, along with having the “NFL look”. I get nervous during interviews, so that was the area I felt weakest going into tryouts. As funny as it sounds, I would have rather done a solo in front of ten judges than have an interview.
PCB: As with many challenges in life, it is often preparation that is the key to success. How did you prepare for tryouts?
SG: I am not much of a “go to the gym girl”, so I told myself if I go everyday for a month then I can’t be too disappointed with how I looked at tryouts. I made sure my hair was long so I could flip it around and I had the perfect outfit to make a statement. Preparation and knowing what the judges are looking for is the key to any tryout or job interview. It also shows how much you care and want it!
PCB: I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t realize how involved it is to be a professional cheerleader. What can a person expect if they make the squad?
SG: We practiced Monday and Wednesday from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm and on Saturdays. You also have, maybe, one or two promotions a week along with other events and junior Charger Girl programs. We do a lot of appearances throughout the San Diego area and even some international appearances. It is a lot of work, but it is so much fun to be able to get out into the community and meet the fans.
PCB: How many routines do you learn in a week?
SG: At the beginning of the season you learn the majority of your material, so it can be a lot at first. Then as the season starts you add a routine here and there. You always need to practice and make sure you stay on top of your routines!
PCB: What’s your game day schedule like?
SG: It’s crazy! Arrive at 7:30 am, have meetings, a full practice on the field, time to get ready, promotions in the parking lot and even a pregame routine on occasion…and that is all before the game even starts. It is such a long day, but I can’t tell you how excited I was to wake up and get Big Sunday started! Probably my favorite day of the week!
PCB: Life is complicated, particularly when balancing work, school and the obligations of being a professional cheerleader. Is it difficult to maintain all these responsibilities, be a cheerleader and maintain an active social life?
SG: It is definitely a balancing act when it comes to handling work, school, family, and cheerleading. A lot of the times, these organizations want women that have great careers or own their own companies, but then they expect you to be at an event in the middle of the day or take off work to go do a promo. You really have to be flexible and find a way to make it all work.
A lot of times you go…go…go…and the season flashes by because you were so busy. I would always tell the rookies to make sure to take in every moment because it is over so quickly and you never know if you will be back on the team the following year. I will say…it is all worth it!
PCB: I am sure that many of our readers have seen the CMT television series on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and are familiar with their emphasis on being physically fit and trim. Are there concerns regarding weight or body image in professional cheerleading?
SG: I definitely think you can have a healthy lifestyle as a professional cheerleader. You just need to balance it out. I do think sometimes women put a lot of pressure on themselves and get into bad situations or gain weight after tryouts. Everyone needs to work hard to stay fit and make sure and do it in a healthy way or it will come back to haunt them later. I make sure I work extra hard in practice because I do enjoy eating out and having French fries, calamari and pasta. I know those kind of foods would definitely catch up with me if I didn’t burn those extra calories.
PCB: Have you had any embarrassing moments you’d like to share with our readers?
SG: I have never had a wardrobe malfunction or fell on the field, but my last year on the team, every time we came to a stop after a transition, Alicia, now a Raiderette, would run into the back of me. And it would always crack me up when she tried to cover it up by acting as if she had to tell me something…lol…sorry Alicia!
PCB: So, what’s the best thing about being an NFL cheerleader?
SG: The friendships, hands down. I have made a handful of lifelong friends on this team and I am blessed everyday to have them in my life!
PCB: I’ve been attending Charger games for many years and from a fan’s perspective, I think the two most anticipated games of the season are the Halloween game and the Christmas game. It’s those sexy costumes and the blue velvet Christmas uniforms that the fans love. I am sure you have some interesting thoughts on the topic.
SG: I loved dressing up for the Halloween game. It’s so much fun to show the crowd a different side of you. The Christmas game is always fun. The fans love the uniforms; however, the girls aren’t so fond of them. Maybe it’s because the uniforms are older than some of the girls.
PCB: Are there any special considerations when performing in these two outfits?
SG: You definitely have to make sure the Halloween costume you choose will stay on. We do not change choreography for this game, so making it work is the key. As for the Christmas uniforms, the girls usually eat a little more than usual before the game since our midriff is covered for once!
PCB: Some might say that they are too sexy and revealing. Your thoughts?
SG: All of the Halloween costumes are approved, so we never wear anything more revealing than our official uniform. We always try to stay family friendly and keep it sexy, but classy.
PCB: While in San Diego, you were a Line Captain for two years. For those of us that don’t know, what are the responsibilities of a Line Captain and how do they differ from that of being a cheerleader?
SG: A line captain is someone who is there for their whole team. They have to know the material inside and out and pay attention to the details in meetings, so they can answer any question at any time. It is a big responsibility and a little more weight on your shoulders, but I love helping out people, so it felt pretty natural for me to step into that position.
PCB: Now, turning to life after cheerleading. You have started your own fashion design company. Please tell us a little about your business and why you started Zonas Designs.
SG: I started my own company, Zonas Designs, officially in November of 2007. I did not originally plan to start one, but after producing uniforms and outfits for friends, demand for my designs grew. I had reached a point that I needed photos of my past uniforms posted somewhere for people to view and have a forum where they could contact me with their requests, so I created a website. Once the website was done, it only was natural to form a company.
Zonas Designs offers three different categories of clothing: dance/cheer attire, jersey attire for women, and swimsuits. Everything we produce is custom made to your specifications. We will help you choose a style, color, detail and then make it to your measurements. Each piece is a unique creation.
PCB: I read that you recently designed new uniforms for the Clippers Spirit. How did that come about and what was the process in custom designing a uniform for the Clippers Spirit?
SG: This season I had the honor of designing a hot outfit for the Clippers Spirit dance team. A lot of times, team directors will see my creations on girls that are auditioning and contact me about my designs and what I can do for them. And that was what happened in this case. A great friend of mine, Harmony, auditioned for her 4th year on the Clippers Spirit dance team wearing one of my designs. That outfit was amazing…it was made from a jersey, but totally reconstructed to get all the great details in the form of a small, sexy top. And that was the inspiration for the Clipper Spirit uniform.
Team directors will email me with their ideas and then I will create 4-6 design sketches. We will tweak the design until they are 100% satisfied with the concept. Then Zonas Designs will produce a sample for approval before proceeding with the final order.
PCB: I seem to recall that you designed some of the swimwear worn by the Charger Girls in their past swimsuit calendar.
SG: The swimwear that I make for calendars, such as the Charger Girls, Redskins, and Chiefs, are a little more detailed and unique than my line of ready to wear swimwear I sell to the public. I specifically design suits that represent the team’s overall image and make it sexy and flattering to get that perfect shot for the calendar.
PCB: Some swimwear is not meant to be worn while swimming and are more for lounging poolside. Are your designs functional as well? Can a girl wear them while swimming in the surf or jet skiing?
SG: My ready to wear swimwear line is definitely functional and has tie sides, neck and back to get the perfect fit and to ensure that you won’t lose anything while jet skiing! As for the calendar shoots, a lot of time the suits have strings or hardware that may not stay in place…so I always find out what my client wants before constructing and designing their suit.
PCB: Your Jersey line seems to be quite popular, certainly among the fans that saw you model one of them during the 2007 Halloween game against the Texans. How popular are these jersey with your customers.
SG: This is probably my #1 selling outfit, yet each is customized for the team, amount of detail and stones wanted. I believe I have made at least one for every team in the NFL!
PCB: Are they individually customized designs or can people purchase them ready to wear?
SG: The jerseys are all customized. Customers send me the jersey they would like to use, that way they get the color, player name and team that they want before customization begins. Then we cut it to specifications and add all the details that make it special and unique.
PCB: Personally, I think these jerseys would be hot sellers, but I can’t seem to find one anywhere. Where can people buy one?
SG: You just order it online at my website, ZonasDesigns.com. Jerseys can be completed in just one week due to our great turn around time. We just need the jersey and your measurements in order to get started.
PCB: Have you considered selling them at online at the NFL Team stores or popular retail outlets?
SG: Yes, that’s definitely a future plan of mine. There are licensing issues and other legal aspects that I do not have in place yet…but I know they would sell out in a second!
PCB: I’ve seen photos of some veteran Charger Girls wearing your dance wear at tryouts. What makes your dance wear designs unique?
SG: I think I have a huge advantage when it comes to designing audition wear. As a former NFL cheerleader, I was in these girl’s shoes many times and know exactly what they want and what the judges want to see. I make sure the fit is flattering, comfortable and will compliment each girl’s skin color.
PCB: Many of our readers are young women who aspire to become professional cheerleaders. How important is it to wear the right dance wear when auditioning?
SG: If you feel great about what you are wearing and feel confident, it will definitely show on the outside and show through your audition. You want an outfit that will accentuate your strong body parts and a color that compliments your skin tone. Choosing the wrong color can definitely affect the whole mood the judges get from your audition. Zonas Designs works closely with our customers to recommend a style and color that will compliment their figure to maximize their chances of making their dance dreams come true.
PCB: Does more stylish and sexy dance wear really get the judges attention?
SG: Definitely…I know a lot of times the judges will refer to a girl as the “yellow top girl” or whatever particular color that girl was wearing. After seeing 400 girls, it is hard for them to remember names or numbers, but it’s much easier for them to remember individual girls by describing the outfits they wore.
PCB: Is it important to stand out in a good way and does the right outfit make that happen?
SG: Most definitely. That is the number one way to catch a judge’s attention before they even see you dance or speak. First impressions always stick!
PCB: In closing, what does the future hold for you? Is there truly life after cheerleading?
SG: I am so happy with everything I have accomplished. I still have a lot I want to do in life and sometimes I think that I will cheer one more time…for whom, I am not sure. But I still have that itch and passion. The great thing about my job is that I am in contact with dancers and girls on teams, so I am still a part of that world. Even though I am not performing in the spotlight, my outfits definitely are!
PCB: And what advice do you have for those readers who want to become a professional cheerleader or business owner.
SG: I think you should follow your dreams. Sometimes I wake up and think how did I get here and then I realize something my Dad had instilled in me when I was young. He said to always believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything you want to in life.
Short look at Fly Khicks (former Miami Heat Dancers) from our good friend Aubrey Aquino. They’ve made it to the final three on this season’s America’s Best Dance Crew.
Aubrey has also been busy at the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game. See what else she’s been up to at AubreyAquino.com.