This Laker Girl is a reel artist

By Phil Friedman, Correspondent
The Daily Breeze
02/19/2009

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.

SI coverage suits Pistons dancer just fine

Ursula Watson
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.”

Fly Khicks

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.

Harmony Hunt in Muscle and Fitness Magazine

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Harmony Hunt, veteran member of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team (and all around cool chick) is featured in the newest edition of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. Woo! Go Harmony!

You need to go out right now and buy a copy of the magazine. It’s the April 2009 mag with Bruce Lee on the cover. April, not March. I emphasize this because the store I went to only had March and there is a decided lack ‘o Harmony in that edition. (I know this because I spent a good 15 minutes flipping through the magazine trying to find the article, all the time thinking “If Harmony is messing with me, I will not hesitate to let the air out of all four of her tires.”)

Harmony, I apologize. Your tires are perfectly safe.
(From me, anyway.)

Right, so anyway, go get the mag, and read up on our girl. In the meantime, check out a few bonus photos on the M&F website.

(You won’t believe me, but that is what the girl actually looks like in real life. Crazy, ain’t it?)

Local Woman Enjoying Time with New Orleans Hornets Honeybees

By Thad Angelloz
The Daily Comet

You wouldn’t think cheerleading would bring an already close family closer.

But according to Krista Neal, that’s exactly what happened after she was chosen to become a New Orleans Hornets Honeybee in July of 2007.

Neal, who has four sisters and one brother, said her family loves to watch her perform at games.

“My mom has always supported me, but because of work my dad missed a lot of my recitals and dances when I was younger,” Neal said. “Since I’ve become a Honeybee he’s had more opportunities to see me dance. My brother and sisters also like to see me dance. It’s a blast for me to have my own fan club.”

KristaStrangely enough, the 20-year-old Honeybee never thought of herself as an NBA cheerleader when she graduated from Hahnville High School.

Despite dancing since the age of 5 and attending American All-Stars dance camp in high school, Neal didn’t give cheerleading much thought as she prepared to enter her freshman year at Nicholls State University.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be doing this right now,” she said.

But after hearing about a Honeybee audition through the Internet, Neal decided to give it a shot.

Surprisingly, Neal soon became a finalist after making her way through two cuts and a thorough interview.

She estimates more than 100 women attended the tryouts.

The dance team ended up keeping 21 women.

“My first plan was to try and be a Saintsation,” Neal said. “After I found out I had missed the tryouts I decided to go to the Honeybee tryouts. I’m a big basketball fan so I thought it would be a good fit for me.”

Former Honeybee and current manager and dance team choreographer, Ashley Deaton, said she knew Neal was right for the job the moment she met her.

“Krista may look like the girl next door off the court, but she really turns it on when she performs,” Deaton said. “You can tell she loves it and that she’s having the time of her life. Because of that you can’t take your eyes off her. She’s the kind of girl we need on the court. This was obvious to us at auditions, so we had to select her for our team.”

Neal doesn’t believe there’s any down side to being a Honeybee.

Her favorite things about being a representative of an NBA franchise are getting to meet different people and having the chance to be a role model for younger girls.

“I know they (young girls) look up to me,” Neal said. “I always think about that in everything that I do.”

After holding down an outside job, dancing and attending Nicholls last year, Neal decided to take a semester off this spring to manage her schedule better.

“It got to be where it was too much,” the elementary education major said. “I’m going to go back to school this summer, but with the way things were for me I thought I needed to drop something for now.”

Although she calls Luling home, Neal’s originally from Houma and still has family members who live in Terrebonne Parish.

Her love of dancing and her so-called “Honeybee family” has made her strongly consider a future beyond the Honeybees.

“I could see myself starting up a dance studio or something,” Neal said. “I really enjoy dancing, and getting the chance to share that with others would be nice.”

Neal credits the New Orleans Hornets organization for making her feel at ease whenever she steps on the court to perform.

“They (team’s administration) genuinely care about us,” Neal said. “They don’t ever put us in an uncomfortable situation and this opportunity has allowed me to do a lot of things out in the community.”

[New Orleans Honeybees]

Christian Naven, Head Coach Sixers Dancers

It’s been a exciting half year for Christian Naven.

Sixers Dancers

At end of last June, she to came from Illinois to Philadelphia to be the new Sixers Dancers Head Coach. She barely had time to catch her breath before auditions started. Two rounds of cuts and a final audition at Chickie’s Pete’s produced a squad of 10 veterans and 6 rookies, a team of great dancers that will connect with the fans.

But Christian was busy with a lot more than selecting her new squad. Lining up sponsorships, new uniforms, preparations for the new Sixers Dancers Calendar (which has been a huge success) were all tasks that she normally would have been working on when the basketball season ended in the spring. Add on twice-weekly three-hour rehearsals on top her already compressed schedule and you can see why Christian might need to catch up on her sleep.

But she’s no stranger to multitasking. Back when she was a student at Illinois State University, she was the coach of the dance team, The Redline Express. While she was running the squad she had to come up with new composition and routines for her classes (she was a dance major) and at the same time she needed to create new choreography for for classes she taught at a local dance studio.br /br /Christian stayed at ISU has been coaching The Redline Express for the past 7 years. In that time she’s had dancers go to the NBA and NFL as well as perform in music videos and at local concerts.

And she has lots of big plans. For game night she says, “The Dancer’s routines will be sharp and innovative. My goal is to continue to see that they perform with charisma in front of the most loyal fans in the league.” While she describes her style as “Hot Jazz” a fusion of Hip Hop and Technical Jazz, the Dancers will be performing all styles of dance this season. Christian says she wants the fans at the Wachovia Center to be constantly thinking, “What will the Sixers Dancers be doing next?”

And so once Christian gets some free time, what does she plan to do? Actually she’s going to dance some more. She has always wanted to learn Salsa and Ballroom Dance and she’s looking forward to taking advantage of some of the great dance studios that Philadelphia has to offer. Aside from dance Christian love watching movies and reading. A self-described bookwork she lists Push Comes to Shove, the autobiography of Twyla Tharp, as her favorite book.

[Philadelphia Sixers Dancers]