$templateURI = get_template_directory_uri(); $homeURL = get_home_url(); if ( isset($bfa_ata_preview) OR $bfa_ata['css_external'] == "Inline" OR ( isset($bfa_ata_debug) AND $bfa_ata['allow_debug'] == "Yes" ) ) { echo '

Nicole is the Dream Team Rep for the Chicago Rush

Congrats to Nicole of the Chicago Rush Adrenaline Dancers on being named to the Arena Bowl XXVI Dream Team. Nicole is a Developmental Therapist and is in her 2nd year with the squad.


[Nicole at the Chicago Rush website]

Esposito Named AFL Dream Team Director

Chicago Rush Dance Coach and Choreographer Gloria Esposito has been named the 2013 NET10 Wireless Dream Team Director and Choreographer, the League office announced today.

The “NET10 Wireless Dream Team” is composed of one dancer from each AFL team who will perform at ArenaBowl XXVI in Orlando. The Dream Team will also make a variety of event appearances during ArenaBowl Championship Week.

Esposito served as the 2012 NET10 Dream Team Director and Choreographer for ArenaBowl XXV in New Orleans as well.

“I felt that we were really prepared last year and the total experience was super exciting and the girls did a really great job,” Esposito said. “I think that this year we can do that as well.”

Esposito began dancing with the Chicago Rush in their inaugural season in 2001. She was named Captain of the squad in 2002 and spent 2004-2006 as the Head Captain. In 2007, Esposito was promoted to Assistant Director and in 2009, she became the team’s Coach and Choreographer. She also spent four seasons (1999-2003) with the Chicago Luvabulls, the Chicago Bulls dance team.

Esposito also has experience as a Dream Team dancer, having been selected to the squad during her time as a dancer for the Rush. The opportunity has been a contributing factor to her knowledge and success as a director.

“I’ve danced on the Dream Team so I kind of knew what to expect but at the same time I knew going into it that it was going to be a whole new adventure as a director,” Esposito said. “I think it’s important to allow the girls to form a bond through this experience because even though we are not on the same team, we are still a part of the same AFL family.”

As both a director and former dancer, Esposito recognizes the important role the Dream Team provides to the ArenaBowl experience.

“What would a football game be without cheerleaders and dancers on the sidelines?” Esposito said. “I think it’s a part of sports in American culture to have them there and I think they provide an added boost to the overall game day experience.”

ArenaBowl XXVI is set to be played at the Amway Center in Orlando on Saturday, August 17. The game will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 1 p.m. ET.

Adrenaline Rush Dancers: The Face Behind the Team


Being involved in a professional dance environment can be challenging both physically and mentally. Without much pay, dancers sacrifice financial stability because of a love and passion for performing. For one woman, the opportunity to blend her extensive dance background and work for the Rush has provided an outlet for her to continue living her dream.

As a former Luvabull and Adrenaline Rush Dancer, team coach and choreographer Gloria Esposito certainly doesn’t lack the experience. She began dancing at the age of five, but it wasn’t always her strong suit.

“During my first dance recital I ran off the stage and my mom told me she would never let me do that again, so I had to convince her to let me do cheerleading and pom in high school and I just fell in love with it.”

Gloria finds it exciting to try new things and says that nobody should be afraid that they aren’t skilled enough to pursue doing what they love. She says there is much more to dancing professionally than just technical skills and that it should never hold someone back.

As for being the coach of Adrenaline Rush Dancers, Gloria says she never would have dreamt it when she was younger. But being the leader of the team now, she finds inspiration for dance in almost everything she does.

Gloria was a Luvabull from 2001 to 2003

“Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. I can hear a song when I’m driving, or I could be watching a movie, but I am a very visual person and a lot of times at practice I’ll teach something and then watch them do it and get other ideas from there.”

She also mentions watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and other dance teams to help get ideas flowing. What she says she finds most interesting about watching other dances is how one song can be interpreted in many different ways and used for different styles of dance. Aside from music and movies, Gloria says she will often go to her team captain Mekial for some help.

Gloria was a member of the Adrenaline Rush Dance team from 2004 to 2007

“I used to be the go to person for our old coach Wynne, so I felt when I took over I needed someone who I trusted and that person is Mekial. I know that if I am not there, she’ll make sure everything that needs to get done will get done. I lean on her and I’m very thankful that I have her to help me.”

She welcomes ideas from all of her girls and appreciates their input on song choices and choreography. In order for the music to make the cut, she says that it needs to excite her and it should be able to touch an audience. While she likes to remain open minded, it can be difficult to choreograph a dance that doesn’t have a clear vision so she’ll sometimes have to reluctantly decline.

“We can try anything, but I did have someone ask us to do a Maringa routine and I said ‘no’. Typically the routines the fans like are the ones with head whips, kicks, and jump splits.”

Despite the long hours Gloria puts into brainstorming and choreographing dances, she still manages to find time to dance on her own.

“My neighbors think I’m crazy. I live on the first floor and have a big screen door and I am always dancing. But seriously, I will take some classes here and there, it is always good to go and learn from someone else.”

Whether or not she’s dancing, her mind is always on bettering the team. With the prep classes and auditions approaching, one thing is certain: she remains very busy solidifying the team’s reputation as one of the best in the league.

Adrenaline Rush Dancer Audition Dates Announced

An UltimateCheerleaders favorite, and recent coach of the AFL Dream Team, Gloria Esposito informs us that Chicago’s AFL try-outs are around the corner!

The Chicago Rush Adrenaline Dancers have announced that they will be holding auditions for the 2013 team starting in November.

Led by Team Coordinator Gloria Esposito, the Adrenaline Rush Dancers have annually been regarded as one of the top dance troupes in the Arena Football League. Open auditions will give all Chicagoland dancers an opportunity to take their passion to a new level. Esposito noted the ideal girl they’re seeking out. “We’re looking for the overall package. A girl who is beautiful inside and out, with a great personality, and dance or cheer background,” said Esposito. “They don’t have to be technically trained, but anything they can add to the team is always a plus.”

The process will open up with a pair of prep classes that will give attendees a chance to polish their skills before the official auditions begin.

While the prep classes are not mandatory, Esposito made it known that they will go a long way in preparing attendees for auditions. “Our prep classes are geared towards giving the girls a chance to see what a practice will be like. We go over all the necessary items that they will need to know for auditions as well as the season.” said Esposito. All other audition dates are mandatory.

From November 25th to December 1st, the field will be narrowed down from the initial pool of applicants to the final 18. Three days of auditions and mini camps will be followed by the finals, which will feature the last cuts and showcase the official 2013 squad. All rounds of auditions (with the exception of the finals) will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, and are closed to the public.

In addition to their duties performing before, during, and after Chicago Rush home games, the dancers make their presence known at a variety of special appearances and team events. Just this past summer, they were featured at a few area concerts. “We were lucky enough to be asked to perform with Big Kenny and Cowboy Troy of Big and Rich at Country Thunder this year,” Esposito explained. “It was a huge opportunity for us and a great experience for the girls. You always dream of being a backup dancer when you are younger and to actually get to do it makes you realize if you work hard enough you will get noticed.”

You can download the application at the bottom of this page. If you have any questions or if you’re having problems downloading the application, email Gloria Esposito at dancers@arenarush.com or call the Rush front office at 855-787-4946.

Prep Class 1: Jazz/Pom Tuesday, November 6 from 7:30-9:30 pm. (Check-in starts at 7:00)
Prep Class 2: Hip Hop Tuesday, November 20 from 7:30-9:30 pm. (Check-in starts at 7:00)

First Round of Auditions: Sunday, November 25 from 9am-5pm. (Check-in starts at 8:00)
Mini Camp Day 1: Tuesday, November 27 from 7-10 pm. (Check-in starts at 6:45)
Mini Camp Day 2: Thursday, November 29 from 7-10pm. (Check-in starts at 6:45)

The fee to audition is only $40 if registered in advance; it goes up to $50 if you register the day of. Prep classes are $20 per session, however if you register for auditions and prep classes in advance, the cost is reduced to $70 for everything

Libertyville High School alum dances for Rush after surviving leukemia

The Mundelein Review
July 16, 2012

LIBERTYVILLE — Dancing comes naturally to Corina Harwood.

While growing up in Libertyville, she learned different types of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and pointe at the Dance Academy of Libertyville and Dancenter North. She joined the cheerleading team while at Oak Grove School and later was on the pom pons team for three years at Libertyville High School.

“I danced all through my childhood and then in high school and was on my college dance team,” she said.

But after graduating from college she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009. Because the leukemia was in her bone marrow, Harwood had to undergo an aggressive program of oral chemotherapy, and her dancing was put temporarily on hold.

After undergoing several months of treatment, Harwood started feeling better and her cancer went into remission. She began thinking about getting back into dance again after seeing a YouTube video of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers for the Chicago Rush arena football team. “They were so impressive I just wanted to try out,” he said.

Harwood tried out and was chosen to be a member of the 16-women Adrenalin Rush Dance team last year and was again selected this year’s team. She plans to be on the dance team again next year.

‘Elite team’

“We don’t just do cheerleading,” Harwood said. “We’re expected to have a high level of technique. A lot of girls return year after year because they enjoy it so much. We’re a pretty elite team.”

Harwood said joining the dance team for the Chicago Rush fulfills a childhood dream of dancing for a professional sports team.

“It’s something I always wanted to do since I was very, very young,” she said. “I think I’ve always really enjoyed being part of a team. It’s not just the dance. I have a great relationship with the other girls, the staff, the fans, the front office and the players. It’s like a big family.”

Harwood believes her instructors at the Dance Academy of Libertyville and Dancenter North and being on the dance teams in middle school and high school teams prepared her for being on the Adrenaline Rush Dancers.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have been as competitive as I now,” she said. “I think I had excellent training and experience that allowed me to make this team,”

Originally from England, Harwood’s family moved to the United States when she was just four years old. The family moved to Libertyville in 1998 and she spent her middle school and high school years before attending college in Louisiana. She currently lives in Winnetka and is working toward a doctoral degree in psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Her parents, Sue and Graham Harwood, still live in Libertyville.

Photo of the Day – June 25th

Adrenaline Rush Dancer Emily at Sunday's Going Pro Expo - Chicago

North Central Grad Relishes Role as Rush Arena Football Dance Captain

By Vickie Jurkowski
Naperville Patch
May 17, 2012

Mekial Singleton learned at a young age that if she wanted to accomplish her dreams she had to toughen up and work hard.

In fourth grade, she attended her older brother John’s meet-the-football-players event at Downers Grove South High School.

“I saw the Phillies on stage and I was star struck,” Singleton said of the school dance team and the moment she knew what she wanted to pursue. “I was very determined and diligent.”

Singleton, who was born and raised in Bolingbrook and moved with her family to Plainfield in 2008, made the Phillies varsity team as a freshman and served as captain junior and senior years.

After graduation in 2004, she heard a radio commercial that would change her life.

She had started summer drills with the Cardettes dance team at North Central College in Naperville, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s in leadership studies with a focus on futuristic terrorism.

“I was listening to B96 on a Friday and heard about Chicago Rush Adrenaline Rush Dancers auditions that Saturday,” Singleton, 26, said. “I told my mom about it, printed the application at the library and the next day at 7 a.m. went in to auditions in a basic black sports bra and dance pants and there was a line of 200 decked-out women in glitter and makeup and all.”

After morning routines and lunch, Singleton said she was so intimidated she wanted to go home. But her mom Edna encouraged her to return. “And she was driving,” she said with a laugh.

After an afternoon of more routines, cuts and callbacks, Singleton was one of two 18-year-olds who made the team.

“It wound up being the best experience and best choice I’ve made in my life and I owe it to my mom for telling me to believe in myself,” Singleton said.

“We were taking a chance as that was the first year we lowered our age limit from 21 to 18,” dance coach Gloria Esposito said. “We knew right away that Mekial was a great person inside and out. To this day she has never swayed that decision for me. She continues to be extremely dedicated to the Rush, her fellow teammates and me.”

Singleton served three years as a co-captain of the dance team before being promoted to captain this season, which finds the Chicago Rush leading the Arena Football League national conference central division with a record of 6-2. Remaining home games at Allstate Arena in Rosemont are June 3, 16 and 30 and July 8.

As dance captain, Mekial is responsible for contributing choreography for auditions and the feature dances, which are performed after the third quarter. A different feature is performed at each of the nine home games.

“She is my right-hand girl when I am not around,” Esposito said. “I know that I can count on her to help me no matter what is needed. Every year she comes back eager as ever to get the new team under way.”

Being an Adrenaline Rush dancer and captain involves more than showing off hip-hop moves for diehard fans.

“It teaches you how to work with other people and be patient when learning new things, how to approach team members with friendly, constructive criticism and respect,” said Singleton, especially when mastering new choreography, which can be frustrating. “It teaches you how to take things one at a time and apply that to life to pace yourself.”

In addition to home games and practice two nights a week, the dancers appear at corporate, community and charity events throughout the season.

“We visit sick patients at hospitals, go to nursing homes and go to local cheer competitions and junior football games all over Illinois, from Huntley to Dixon to Bloomington,” she said. “It’s nice to step into a child’s shoes and see girls whose dreams are to dance and boys who want to play football. It opens you up to a lot of people and experiences.”

Dancers often tailgate with fans and sign autographs after games. Fans treat the dancers, who are only paid for home games, to food and drink at restaurants to watch away games, and host various events, such as a recent sold-out fan night at Brunswick Zone in Woodridge.

“We do it because we love it, love to dance, for the love of football and love of our fans,” Singleton said. “We get paid through friendships and that’s the best compensation.”

Dancers are expected to juggle the demands of the Chicago Rush season around college and careers.

For Singleton, that means interning in a secretarial position at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago in hopes of one day working in national security, and helping at John’s Rib House in Lisle. Her parents Edna and John opened the restaurant after retiring from, respectively, teaching and Chicago Carbon. Co. and Unocal oil refinery in Lemont.

“I love to cook with my mom,” Singleton said. “She always pulled me into the kitchen at a young age and I’d have flour on my face and dough in my hair.”

Her mom also enrolled her in gymnastics at a young age and then in ballet, jazz and hip-hop classes at the YMCA. Singleton cheered and danced with the Downers Grove Panther Youth Football and Cheer organization in fourth through eighth grades.

“I definitely credit my dad and my mom because they have been there with me through everything to teach me life lessons and to stand my ground,” Singleton said.

She also credits her brother John for being a role model. He earned a track scholarship from Lewis University in Romeoville and was ranked 13th in the nation for hurdles.

Singleton, who is single, said she hopes her internship will eventually lead into a career with the CIA or FBI. For now, she’s content to cook ribs and bake peach cobbler, travel the state meeting fans, do choreography and dance.

“I have no intentions of stopping. As long as the good Lord lets me keep dancing, I will,” she said. “I love dancing with my girls and I love the fans, who are some of the most diehard fans in Chicago. I thank Gloria for bringing me back every year.”

Adrenaline Rush Dance Team Set for 2012 Season

Mekial will be back for year seven with the ARD

CHICAGO – The 2012 Adrenaline Rush Dance Team was announced in December at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine, Ill. The team was trimmed from 36 finalists to the top 18 dancers who will represent the team throughout the 2012 season.

Rush fans will recognize numerous faces on the 2012 team as 11 veterans will be returning from the 2011 season. Most notably, Adrenaline Rush Dance Team Captain Mekial will be entering her seventh season with the squad.

“There was a tremendous amount of talent in this year’s group of dancers,” said Adrenaline Rush Dance Team Coordinator Gloria Esposito. “I am thrilled with our selections for our 2012 team. We are so eager to welcome back 11 veterans who will be sure to lead the talented rookies we have added for this year.”

Below is a list of the ladies who made the final cut, and will be representing the Chicago Rush in the upcoming season:

Mekial (7 Years), Michelle (2 Years), Nicole B. (Rookie), Andrea (Rookie), Ashley C. (2 Years), Daniella (Rookie), Nicole C. (2 Years), Caitlin (2 Years), Corina (2 Years), Christy L. (Rookie), Ashley F. (4 Years), Chrissy M. (Rookie), Brittanie (3 Years), Lauren (Rookie), Emily (2 Years), Jenna (Rookie), Racquel (3 Years), Courtnie (4 Years)

2012 Adrenaline Rush Dancer Auditions Set For November 27

The Chicago Rush is excited to announce that the audition process for the 2012 Adrenaline Rush Dance Team is set to begin on Sunday, November 27th. The Rush is looking for 16 multi-talented dancers to represent the team as members of the Adrenaline Rush Dance squad.

“We are extremely eager to begin our search for the 2012 Adrenaline Rush dancers,” said Dance Coordinator Gloria Esposito. “It is always exciting to see these women striving to achieve their dreams. There were so many talented women who auditioned last year, we are anxious to see what this year brings.”

There will be three rounds of auditions before the final squad is named. Dancers who wish to auditions for the 2012 team must be at least 18 years old by January 1, 2012.

Dancers are encouraged to attend the audition prep classes prior to the first round of auditions. The class will review technique and will provide the opportunity to learn a new routine as well as speak with the dance team’s personal trainer. Each class will cost $20 to attend. However, if the dancer attends both prep classes they will receive a $10 discount off the audition fee. The classes will be held on Tuesday, November 15th and Thursday, November 17th from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Applications for the prep class are due on Monday, November 14th and can be found at Arenarush.com.

The first round of auditions will take place on November 27th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. All choreography will be taught throughout the day of the audition. The audition fee is $50. Applications along with the audition fee, a completed waiver and release form and a recent photo are due by Friday, November 25th. The top 30 or 40 dancers will move on to participate in Mini Camp.

Mini Camp is mandatory and will be held on Tuesday, December 6th and Thursday, December 8th from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. This camp will prepare dancers for the final round of auditions.

The final round of auditions will be held on Saturday, December 10th from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The location will be announced at a later date and will be open to the public.

For questions regarding the 2012 Adrenaline Rush Dancer auditions please call 855-RUSH-WIN or email dancers@arenarush.com.

Six Year Veteran Mekial Feels the Actual Adrenaline Rush of Dancing for Chicago’s AFL Team

Mekial, left, performs during the 10-year Adrenaline Rush re-union

Mekial has been a member of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers for six seasons, but it only took one game for her to understand the true meaning of the squad’s name. “My first memorable moment dancing with the Adrenaline Rush Dancers was my very first game,” Mekial explains. “No matter how many games I perform and participate in, nothing can replace the feeling or experience of your first performance. During the opener, the lights were turned off, there were fireworks, sparks, flashing lights, and smoke. To hear the announcer introduce us over the speaker, and to hear the fans cheer for our team was the best feeling I have ever had. When I first became a member of this dance team, I couldn’t understand why we were called the Adrenaline Rush Dancers. It became apparent during the opener of my first game when my adrenaline literally rushed throughout my entire body.”

And luckily for Chicago Rush fans, Mekial has not been in a rush to leave, having the longest tenure on the squad that just completed their 2011 AFL season. UltimateCheerleaders had the wonderful opportunity to learn about multi-talented dancer Mekial, who also plays four musical instruments and wrote a Master’s thesis on the terrorism threat. And once a year, Mekial leaves her mark on the Mall of America’s inventory.

Mekial was born and raised in the Chicago area, within a close-knit family. Mekial’s parents and brother played an influential role. “Some of my favorite childhood memories definitely revolve around my family,” Mekial shares. “My family means the world to me and I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Mekial’s father taught her to stretch her boundaries. “During my childhood, my father always took me fishing or I would sit in the garage on the ground and watch him work on cars,” Mekial recalls. “My father would teach me the difference between a screwdriver and a wrench. As a child, I would fetch his tools whenever he needed them. My daddy always taught me that even though I am a girl, I still needed to become familiar with certain activities that were male dominant.”

Mekial’s mom created special memories during the important seasons of the year. “My mother always made my holidays special,” Mekial describes. “If it was Easter, she ordered a life-size Easter Bunny to visit my house for an hour, and if it was Christmas, she always taught me how to make gingerbread houses. No matter what kind of group or function I was a part of, cheerleading, school plays, dancing, graduations, piano recitals, et cetera, my mother made my childhood special and unique because of one contribution: support.”

Mekial’s brother provided an example path for her to follow as needed. “Having an older brother always had its perks during my childhood, “Mekial recounts. “No matter what my brother did, I wanted to be just like him. I would follow everything he did. As I got older, I continued in my brother’s footsteps in life, and he is the main reason why I earned my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in the field of sociology and criminology.”

Mekial (right) during pre-game

Mekial’s academic path lead her to a degree in MALS Futuristic Methods. “MALS was my major for my graduate degree,” Mekial explains. “It stands for Master of Arts in Leadership Studies with an emphasis on Futuristic Methods. Futuristic Methods concentrates on the driving forces, factors, and variables of the past and present to determine and forecast the most logical outcome in the future. I completed a 60-page thesis dealing with ‘The Alternative Futures of Fighting Terrorism in the United States.’ Since the interest has heightened at an alarming rate in the past several years, as the result of the 2001 terrorist attacks on our U.S. Soil, our United States Government has been implementing a short term view on the war of terror. This thesis forecasted three alternative future scenarios of the role the United States and Homeland Security could possibly utilize to help fight terrorism. Some futurists foresee that America must field its own counter-terrorist army of trained, experienced, and open-minded personnel who can understand terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda. In this thesis, I felt that there was a slim chance of terrorist attacks decreasing over the next seven years’ my forecast covered and focused on the future up till the year 2015.”

Mekial’s well-balanced canvas of diverse interests also includes a lifelong devotion to music, as both a performer of music and dancer. “I play four musical instruments,” describes Mekial, whose musical heroes include Jackie Wilson, Michael Jackson, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Ray Charles, and Elton John. “I started playing the piano at the age of four. I was enrolled in the Wheaton College Suzuki Prep Program for the piano. This is where my classical music training began. I graduated from the Suzuki prep program at the age of seventeen. I started the saxophone at the age of eight and became first chair in my junior high and high school bands. I began playing the flute at the age of twelve. And I became intrigued with the violin at the age of thirteen at the Suzuki Prep Program.”

Mekial leads the way on to the field

Continue reading Six Year Veteran Mekial Feels the Actual Adrenaline Rush of Dancing for Chicago’s AFL Team

Emily is in her Element with the Adrenaline Rush Dancers

Emily signs the Adrenaline Rush Dansers poster for a young fan after the last regular season home game

“Emily loves applause.”

That was the first line in a newspaper story about Emily of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers back when she was in elementary school. Her local paper did a piece about Emily’s fourth/fifth grade holiday season program back home in the Bay Area of northern California, and Emily was quoted in the article saying, “Hearing the applause makes me feel like I’ve done a good job. (Our teacher) cries when we do a good job, and she cried at this one, which means we did a really, really good job.” Emily was quoted about one of the holiday dances that she performed, “The dance had lots of steps and kicks.”

Well, I hope Emily still loves applause, because she hears a lot of it as she performs with her ARD sisters at Chicago Rush AFL games. The Rush made it to the final four of the AFL, but Arizona sidelined their ArenaBowl plans for this year. But around the time of the season’s final regular season home game, Emily graciously participated in an interview with UltimateCheerleaders. We will learn about Emily’s path from Cali to Chicago, her love of both dance and chemistry, including Emily’s favorite element. And not her favorite dance element, but the elements in that big periodic table of chemical fun.

Emily was born and raised in Sunnyvale, California, not too far from where the AFL’s Saberkittens perform now for games in San Jose. Family time was a precious time for Emily growing up, as she explains, “My favorite childhood memories definitely involve family gatherings. Every summer we would go down to Carmel Valley and spend the month with my Dad’s whole side of the family. Holidays were also some of my favorite times because we would get to spend time with the entire extended family, including relatives that lived across the country. I love my family and they are a big part of who I am so most of my favorite memories involve them.”

Emily and Amber after the game

During these formative years, Emily developed two keen interests, dance and chemistry. Emily says, “I have been dancing ever since I can remember. When I was little I used to put on Disney movies and act them out in my living room, including dancing and singing during all the songs. I didn’t start formal classes until I was older, but the passion has always been there. My parents were always supportive of me in whatever I wanted to do, so dance was no exception. My dad always said I didn’t seem complete unless I was dancing, and he was right!”

The other side of Emily’s brain was also finding a source of interest in other topics. “I have always enjoyed the math and science subjects,” Emily explains, “But my high school chemistry teacher was the first person to spark my passion for chemistry. He taught it in such an engaging way and I took to it right away. I just find the subject so interesting and exciting, and there is always something more to learn.”

Emily soon would be on the move to SoCal, to become a student at USC. “After high school, I went to the University of Southern California for school where I met the best friends anyone could ever have, and had probably four of the best years of my life,” Emily recalls. “I double majored in Chemistry and Psychology and was involved in a myriad of clubs and leadership activities.”

Emily’s next steps would soon send her to the Midwest, and she explains, “After graduation, I spent another year in Los Angeles working as a pharmaceutical sales representative, but I always knew I wanted to go back to school. I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan to get my Ph.D. in Chemistry, so I could one day teach at a university. During my time there, I fell even more in love with teaching, but realized the research aspect of the program just wasn’t for me. I left the program with my Master’s Degree and moved to Chicago to start the next chapter of my life. And here I am!”

When asked about her ‘dream job,’ Emily responds, “My dream job would be to teach organic chemistry at a University. I really enjoy working with college students, and I would want to share my passion of the subject with others and potentially influence them to think of the subject differently.”

But in all those years of chemistry, did any experiments ever not go as planned? Did any ever go ‘ker-blew-y’? Not all experiments go ‘swimmingly,’ as Emily explains, “Chemistry experiments go wrong all the time, so I have had plenty that have not worked. I have never had an experiment blow up or anything, but I have flooded the lab with water before!”

So, in that big periodic chart that hangs in chemistry classroom walls, full of noble gases, metals, no-metals, and halogens, what is Emily’s most favorite element? “I have never really thought about having a favorite element, but since I like organic chemistry I would say Carbon,” answers Emily. “It is such an important element that is involved in making up so many things in this world, which is just incredible. The same element makes up the human body, charcoal, and diamonds!”

Continue reading Emily is in her Element with the Adrenaline Rush Dancers

Ashley Fashions a Dance Career with the AFL’s Chicago Rush

Ashley F. is one of three “Ashleys” on the Adrenaline Rush Dancers (wonder if they lead the league in Ashleys?), and the “F” must stand for fashion. After all, how many people have kept a “fashion journal” so they don’t repeat outfits within a few months (listed by Ashley as her “Worst Habit” on her on-line bio at the Chicago Rush website)?

For Ashley, fashion has been a lifelong love, as she says, “I was always into fashion! I was the little girl that dressed up for any and every occasion! Although, I must say I went thru many trends and fads.” Ashley continued, when asked when she recalled first insisting on dressing herself, “I can recall being in 4th grade when my mom told me she had picked out an outfit for me, but I insisted that I could put something together myself. I clearly thought it was a ‘cooler’ outfit of course, too.”

When asked if she remembered any outfits that she thought particularly “rocked,” Ashley recalls, “As far as an outfit I thought rocked, it just depended on the grade and style I was going thru. If you asked my mom she would take it back to 3rd grade when I had my striped Unionbay t-shirt with my tan corduroy shorts that I wouldn’t want to take off. I had a pleather black skirt and a red Minnie sweater that I thought was adorable when I was four! In 6th grade I went thru an Adidas stage, 8th grade consisted of poncho sweaters, and high school I went thru a creative unique stage and slowly transitioned into business attire consisting of dress pants and skirts. Usually whatever I was wearing, I felt I rocked because I was so in love with keeping up with fashion.”

So, Ashley, if you were on “Project Runway,” would you prefer to be a designer, model, or judge? “If I were on ‘Project Runway,’” responds Ashley, “I would want to be a part of every aspect of the show; designer, model, and judge! I’ve taken sewing classes in high school and I loved it so much I retook the class! Being creative and brainstorming on how you could influence others by designing something a customer could essentially fall in love with is just amazing to me so designing would be such an honor. Modeling would be just as fun; being involved with fashion shows, walking the runway, being involved with designers, et cetera, how could it get any better? Lastly, is the power you would have as a judge. You’re able to give your feedback and explain why you may or may not see that outfit or product sell or be beneficial to a designer’s collection. Every part of that show is full of excitement!”

Ashley’s love of both fashion and dance are reflected in her college studies, “I went to Purdue University Calumet and graduated this past May with a major in Business Retail and a minor in fitness.”

“My love of dance started when I was three,” Ashley, who was born and raised in the Northwest Indiana section of the Chicago Metro area, recalls. “My mom put me in a dance class at our local community center for a session or two. I quickly moved into a studio in which I like to say I ‘grew up’ in and took tap, ballet, and jazz until I was 18. I also belonged to a singing and dance troupe where we performed at various places around the community, Sea World, Universal Studios Orlando, and ended at Disney World for the 4th of July. I also was on my middle and high school team, and then also on my college team.”

Continue reading Ashley Fashions a Dance Career with the AFL’s Chicago Rush

For Brittanie of the AFL’s Dream Team, Sweet Home Chicago is the Perfect Location for the ArenaBowl

Born and raised in Chicago, it should be no surprise where Brittanie would like the AFL’s ArenaBowl to be held. See, Brittanie is the Adrenaline Rush Dancers’ (who entertain during Chicago Rush games at Allstate Arena) representative on the Dream Team of 18 dancers that will perform at the ArenaBowl this year. When asked, if not Chicago, what AFL cities would Brittanie like to visit for the ArenaBowl, she responded, “Hands down, I want it in Chicago. There really is nowhere else I would rather be than my hometown. I’d love for my team and family there to support me out there, and best of all, Chicago’s fans are the best; they would definitely be on their feet cheering the entire game. With that all in mind, I can’t even think of a better place to have the Arena Bowl!”

Well, the Rush still have a chance, one of four teams left in the AFL playoffs, so maybe Brittanie will be able to be a “stay at home” dancer, although Phoenix, Jacksonville, and Atlanta would all be nice places for her all-star appearance.

The Dream Team was selected by on-line voting, with two members of each cheer squad on the ballot. Brittanie found out she was a candidate when, “My coach had pulled me aside one practice and told me about the great news, and honestly I was at a loss for words. I know that sounds corny but in a dancer’s eyes this is a huge accomplishment. It was rough going against my fellow teammate since we all are so close, like sisters. However to just be nominated for something like this is amazing, so even if I wasn’t picked I’d still feel honored!“

Brittanie (left) during the July 23rd home game

As we also learned from about her ARD coach, Gloria Esposito, Brittanie was a bit shy when she was young, but dancing helped her show her true spirit. “I was actually very quiet and shy growing up, but when I was on the dance floor it was a whole different world,” explains Brittany. “I could take center stage without being shy at all, and I loved all eyes upon me. Thank you to my parents for starting me off in dance, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Brittanie is studying to be a teacher, and in the meantime works as a bartender, which can be quite an interesting study of human behavior. “Being a bartender has its ups and downs, as do all jobs,” says Brittanie. “I love it very much because I get to talk with people all day long, and meet new people every day! Bartending definitely helped me come out of my shell and really learn more about myself and others.”

Through work, Brittanie was encouraged to try out for the Adrenaline Rush Dancers. “It was my manager, Heather,” Brittanie recalls, now in her second season with the Rush. “She is the one who told me about Rush and encouraged me to tryout! Once I got there I was extremely intimidated by all of the talented girls.”

But now Brittanie is amongst the elite of those talented girls. There are some interesting notes about Brittanie in her biography Q & A on the Rush web site. One interesting on-line answer was,

Q: Five years ago I was? A: Learning how to drive…unsuccessfully

Hmm, please explain Brittanie. “Well, needless to say I am not the greatest driver; I hit curbs a lot and I am the WORST at parking,” Brittanie smiles. “My motto: ‘On the line is in the line.’”

Continue reading For Brittanie of the AFL’s Dream Team, Sweet Home Chicago is the Perfect Location for the ArenaBowl

Take a Glimpse Within the “Open Book” of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers Coach, Gloria Esposito

Pro cheerleading can launch someone on a path from extremely shy child, refusing to dance on stage, to shooting off machine guns with the troops in Kosovo. This has been part of the journey of Gloria Esposito, now the Coach/Choreographer of the AFL’s Adrenaline Rush Dancers, and a former NBA Luvabull and Adrenaline Rush Dancer herself. Cheer and dance have been so impactful, as Gloria says, “No one thought I would make (the squads) because they said I was shy, but I honestly think that because of the Luvabulls and the situations I had to deal with, I came out of my shell and am the person I am today.” Recently, the Adrenaline Rush Dancers took time to reflect on their own history with a ten year reunion during the last regular season game of the Chicago Rush, and Gloria also took time out to share with UltimateCheerleaders her story of going from reluctant dancer to leading an entire squad.

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Gloria shares her last name with some notable Chicagoans, from news anchors to athletes, most noteworthy, the Chicago Blackhawks’ legendary goalie Tony Esposito. “No, I am not related to anyone famous, although I could use it to my advantage if I was that type of person,” Gloria shares, “Because everyone’s first question is ‘Are you related to Tony Esposito?’ Nope, I am not, but my dad does have a signed hockey stick!”

Gloria (right) as the ten-year reunion performance gets ready to hit it

Gloria’s dance career started with, well, not really a start at all. “Well, believe it or not, I was EXTREMELY shy growing up,” Gloria recalls. “I mean, we would visit family and I would hide behind my mom. She put me in dance class when I was six because my friend was doing it, and they thought it would help me. Well, it came to my first recital and everyone paid to come see me. I took one step out on stage, and turned around and would not go out there. So my mom said I could never do it again. Then in Junior High, I wanted to be on the pom squad for our junior football team in town, and she said no, the only way would be if my sister would do it with me. So I convinced her to do it and we did it for a few years. When I got into high school, I wanted to try out gymnastics did that for two years and found myself back on the pom squad my junior and senior year. I went to college and continued.”

With the goal of making the NBA’s Luvabulls one day, Gloria’s first venture into pro dance was trying out for Chicago Condors dance team of the ABA basketball league. “Well, I tried out for the Condors because I wasn’t 21 yet, and I knew the girls running it used to be on the Luvabulls so I thought I could use it as a networking experience,” says Gloria. “One of the girls who made the Condors had tried out for the Luvabulls numerous times and didn’t make it, so that made me double-think it, but I thought, nope, this is what I want. I am going to do it.” The Condors ended up folding less than a year later, so the dancing for the Bulls was the obvious next step.

“I tried out for the Luvabulls because it was something I always wanted, and seeing them when the Bulls were winning made me want to do it even more,” recalls Gloria. “So when tryouts came around, I signed up, and on the first day I was nervous, and I am not someone who gets nervous. I do remember being one of the first girls there that day, and meeting four of my future best friends that morning! None of us knew each other, or knew if we would make it, but we clicked. We went through the audition process, and on that last day, we saw the five of us standing there together, looking shocked that we all just made the new team! To this day we are all still friends!”
Continue reading Take a Glimpse Within the “Open Book” of the Adrenaline Rush Dancers Coach, Gloria Esposito

The Adrenaline Rush Dancers’ Reunion Celebrates a Decade of Cheer

Neither searing heat nor flood producing rains could prevent the ten-year reunion of over fifty Adrenaline Rush Dancers. The ARD have been part of the entertainment at AFL Chicago Rush games since 2001, and their current Director Gloria Esposito celebrated the event with a ten-year reunion featuring a halftime performance and the participation of the alumni in the game break entertainment. The July 23rd game against Milwaukee was also Adrenaline Rush Dancer poster night.

Outside the Allstate Arena, the combination of heat and sudden rains left some roads impassable and about 70% of the traffic lights were not functioning. The Chicago Tribune’s front page headline read, “Sweltering heat, then rain. Repeat.” But inside the Arena, the current and former ARD were focused on performance and reuniting. When asked if the returning alumni would be more or less nervous than during their days on the squad, Gloria speculated that they might be more nervous performing for the reunion, since some had not danced in this type of setting since 2001.

Gloria performs at halftime

But prior to halftime, alumni Wynne (in the red ball) and Dee (in the blue ball) participated in the “Hamster Ball” race. Wynne was also an NBA dancer and captain in both Chicago (four years) and Milwaukee (one year), and now is the director of the NHL Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew and the IFL Chicago Slaughter Dancers, and Dee also danced for the Luvabulls. Wynne jumped out to a big lead, and in Tortoise and Hare fashion, became a little cocky, running backwards in the hamster ball. But with mascots and event staff around, Wynne was blocked in her tracks and Dee caught up. Mascot Grabowski then gave Dee a little hold back, which gave Wynne a small lead to plunge to victory at the goal line.

Continue reading The Adrenaline Rush Dancers’ Reunion Celebrates a Decade of Cheer