Woman becomes 1st Japanese to do cheerleading for NHL, NBA, NFL

The Mainichi Daily News
June 6, 2011

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese professional cheerleader Emi Koike won a final audition in May and became one of the 40-member 2011-2012 New York Jets “Flight Crew,” the cheerleaders for the National Football League team for the upcoming season.

Since the 27-year-old has already worked as cheerleader for the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, her latest success makes her the first Japanese ever to dance for the three major U.S. professional sport organizations.

“It has been my dream to become an NFL cheerleader since doing competitive cheerleading in high school in Japan,” said Koike in a statement released by NFL Japan.

“There has been little bright news in Japan so far this year due to the earthquake and tsunami. Cheerleading is the only thing I can do and I hope my performance and efforts in the United States will help encourage and raise the motivation, even if only slightly, of the people affected by the disaster and the NFL fans in rebuilding” Japan, she said.

According to the Japanese unit of the NFL, more than 300 people, including applicants from Japan, took part in the audition for the Flight Crew.

The final audition, held on May 7, was a competition between the 39 people, including Koike, who had been selected through interviews and skill tests from among all applicants, plus 25 members of the 2010-2011 Flight Crew. Koike and the 39 other successful applicants will dance and root for the New York Jets in the season starting in early September.

In the United States, Koike has been cheerleader for the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators, as well as for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.

2010-11 Blue Crew

The NHL Atlanta Thrashers have updated the pages for the Blue Crew Ice Crew. Click here to check it out!

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SI.com: Atlanta Thrashers Blue Crew

Sports Illustrated has a new set of photos of the Thrashers Blue Crew clearing the ice on game day. Click here to go there now.

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NHL Ice Girls Gallery

NBC Sports has lots of photos of NHL Ice Girls on the ice this season. The gallery includes ice crews from the Blackhawks, Ducks, Flyers, Hurricanes, Islanders, Kings, Lightning, Oilers, Penguins, Predators, Stars, and Thrashers. (Mostly the Islanders Ice Girls and Thrashers Blue Crew.) Click here to check it out.

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The Blue Crew’s Game Day Face

Pür Minerals makeup Blue Crew
By Rachel Tobin Ramos
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, July 1, 2010
[Photos]

“The dark eye shadow has to stay low and outside,” instructed Tamara Compton, the Southeast marketing coordinator for Pür Minerals makeup. “And the bronzer goes where the sun naturally hits your face. But bronzer does not equate blush.”

So went several hours of instruction on their “game day look” for the Blue Crew, the women who clean the ice, dance on the sidelines and help promote the Thrashers hockey team.

Fans may not realize the behind-the-scenes sponsorships that go into the look of the Thrashers’ Blue Crew or the Hawks’ A-Town Dancers.

Donni Frazier, the teams’ talent coordinator, said basically she is looking for any sponsors that “help them look pretty.”

Last season’s sponsors included Palm Beach Tan, Turner Athletic Club, Jamison Shaw Hairdressers and the Green Room Agency.

Kadijah Johnson, 26, who dances for the Hawks and Thrashers, said she gets her hair done about every two weeks and a spray tan because she likes the “healthy glow.”

Pür, the Atlanta-based brand of mineral makeup and skin care products, is a new sponsor for the coming season.

Julie Campbell, company spokeswoman, said Pür cold-called the dance teams about becoming the makeup sponsor, which previously was national makeup brand MAC Cosmetics.

Though Frazier wanted to use the local company, she and her dancers first tested Pür to see whether it would stand up to bright lights and heavy activity.

“I was making sure it wouldn’t irritate the skin, it could be worn everyday and was thick enough for games and practice,” Frazier said.

The biggest concerns of the dancers on a recent Monday night? Were their lips red enough?

“It’s part of their contract to wear red lipstick on game day,” Frazier said.

That’s a fact that doesn’t sit well with the team members who don’t normally wear a crimson red lip.

“Do you think Donni will say this is red enough?” 23-year-old Shea Allen asked.

“Probably not,” said Christina Zangas, 22, as she grinned with a deep red smile after applying Pür’s Red Ruby lipstick. “It feels clownish.”

Frazier just smiled.

2010-11 Blue Crew Announced

What? Auditions are over already?? Click here for photos and click here for videos of this year’s tryouts.

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Auditions in Atlanta: Blue Crew & A-Town Dancers

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[Complete Blue Crew Audition Information]

[Complete A-Town Dancer Audition Information]

Ice Girls of the NHL

NBC Sports has added a ton of new photos to their NHL Ice Girl galleries. Click here to check ’em out!

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Thrashers Photo Shoot

The Blue Crew, the ice crew for the NHL Atlanta Thrashers recently completed their team photo shoot. There were lots of costume changes involved. The team was photographed in their game day uniforms, of course, but they also wore hockey pads, swimsuits, holiday dresses, and snow bunny outfits. (Not all at the same time, of course. Although that would’ve been interesting, and maybe they should consider it next year.)

These videos take you behind the scenes. Day 1 and Day 2

SI Gallery Update – NHL

Heads-up, the most recent NHL gallery on SportsIllustrated.com features the Atlanta Thrashers Blue Crew. Click here to see what the team is up to on game day, and then go to the Thrashers website to check out their new and improved Blue Crew pages.


The Blue Crew is wearing red.
Yeah, I don’t get it either.