Patriots cheerleader tryouts draw 200-plus

By Adva Saldinger
GateHouse News Service
Mar 02, 2009

Photo Gallery

FOXBORO — More than 200 women jumped, clapped and body-rolled to Britney Spears’ song “Circus”’ Saturday in hopes of winning a spot as a New England Patriots cheerleader.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Patriots cheerleader,” said Alana Hicks, 19, of Weymouth. “Every dance teacher I’ve ever had has been one, so it’s just something I’ve always looked up to and wanted to do since I was just a little kid.”

The judges, said Julie Warner, a Patriots cheerleader captain, were looking for confidence.

Warner, 28, who works full time in addition to being a Patriots cheerleader, will have to try out again herself in the final rounds to keep her position. On Saturday, her role was to help the women learn the routine.

Sara Caldeira, 19, of Taunton said the cheerleaders “are very friendly. They teach you one by one; if you need help, they’re free to help you. It’s an awesome experience.”

Some women failed to make the cut after the first round. Those who remained performed a dance, choreographed to “Circus,” that Patriots cheerleading director Tracy Sormanti taught them at break-neck speed.

The routine was easier to pick up for Danielle Bailey, 20, of Easton, than she thought it would be. She wants to join the squad because she loves to entertain and perform but also because she has always done community service.

“I just want to do something for other people while I’m having fun doing my job,” said Bailey.

Meghan Bossa, 20, of Braintree said the cheerleaders are role models and get to represent the team abroad.

“I think it’s amazing they have that kind of influence,” she said.

Rebecca Kennedy of Bridgewater, who made it to the finals several years ago, said she wants the stature that comes with the job.

“People don’t just come to the games to watch the players; they come to watch the cheerleaders, and you can tell from all the apparel and calendars they buy that they are a huge icon in New England sports,” she said.

Near the end of the day, the judges made another cut and the remaining group of approximately 60 women stayed to learn another routine for another round of auditioning next weekend.

The ones who get through that will be interviewed and go through a two-week trial period, after which the team of up to 24 will be selected.

Once the team is picked, it’s straight to work gearing up for next season on the sidelines.

Los Gatos women on Raiderettes squad visit the troops in Iraq and Kuwait

By Marianne L. Hamilton
Los Gatos Weekly-Times
03/02/2009

When Meena Shams and Ariel Ogilvie make public appearances, they’re almost always in uniform. As members of the Raiderettes, cheerleading squad for the Oakland Raiders, the Los Gatos residents are typically decked out in their familiar silver and black costumes.

Recently, though, the pair found themselves attired in bulletproof vests and Kevlar helmets. But to the soldiers they were visiting at military bases in Iraq and Kuwait, it was just business as usual.

On Jan. 28, Shams and Ogilvie — accompanied by fellow cheerleader Jovann Canada from Pleasanton — boarded a plane for Kuwait. The three were chosen to represent the squad by Raiderettes director Karen Kovac, who felt the trio brought a unique set of talents and life experiences to the task.

“Going on these trips is a huge honor, and the slots are highly coveted,” Kovac says. “Meena and Jovann are line captains, and have been with us for several seasons. They have plenty of experience with being in charge, being dropped into different situations at various events, and having to figure it out. They’re both very adaptable and knowledgeable.”

Ogilvie’s impending marriage to Marine 1st Lt. Mike Lamb also carried weight in the decision-making process, Kovac adds. “Having gone through tours to Bosnia and Kosovo myself, I knew that these types of trips really open your eyes in wonderful ways. I imagined this shared experience would help tie Ariel and Mike together. Also, being able to tell the soldiers in Iraq that her fiancÂŽ was in the Marines would be a nice connection.”

The Raiders organization has had a lengthy history of supporting the military. Kovac often sends members of the cheerleading team to disabled veterans’ events and to VA hospitals throughout the state, and the football team regularly hosts active and retired military on the sidelines at games. Just prior to the Iraq trip, Shams joined four other Raiderettes at Camp Pendleton, where they performed for 1,000 soldiers about to be deployed to the Middle East.

“We all get hooked on these events,” Kovac says. “Once you do something with the service personnel, you just want to do more.”

This year’s Iraq tour was orchestrated by the marketing firm Pro Sports MVP, which stages promotional programs and events featuring entertainment and sports celebrities. Along with the Raiderettes, members of several NFL teams made the journey to Iraq. For nine days, the players and cheerleaders toured bases and points of interest in the Middle Eastern war zone, doing a number of meet-and-greets and participating in several special events. Shams says their reception was enthusiastic, from the highest-ranking brass on down.

“We met with Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, who’s in charge of the 4th Infantry Division in Baghdad; he reports directly to Gen. Petraeus, and was appointed by the President. He took the time to thank us for coming,” Shams notes.

Odierno also presented each visitor with a special commemorative coin, a fact that Shams says will come in handy should she ever happen to share an adult beverage with a member of the military. “The custom is that if someone pulls out a coin and challenges you, and you don’t have a coin or theirs outranks yours, you have to buy everyone a round,” explains Shams. “But if yours outranks theirs, they have to buy a round. I think each of us now has a coin that outranks 99 percent of all coins.”

Shams adds that it was a heady experience to leaf through the guest book the cheerleaders were asked to sign in Basra. Following tea with Maj. Gen. Andy Salmon, commander of British forces in the city, she and Ogilvie inscribed their signatures in the book. “Then we turned the page back and saw that [British Prime Minister] Gordon Brown had just signed. That was definitely one of the highlights of the tour,” says Shams.

The Los Gatans’ arrival “in-country” coincided with Iraq’s recent elections. Though the event went off peacefully, the Raiderettes’ military escort opted to keep them out of the way of any potential unrest.

“After we landed in Kuwait, we stayed at Camp Arifjan for three days during the election,” Shams says. “From then on, our itinerary was sort of decided upon on a daily basis.”

That schedule included daily meals and many hours spent chatting with the troops about their experiences. Shams and Ogilvie also took part in a re-enlistment ceremony, holding the American flag while military personnel signed on for additional tours of duty. Traveling between bases, their modes of transportation included Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, as well as a C-130 transport plane. They also went for a spin in an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protection) vehicle, which is designed to survive roadside bombs.

Super Bowl Sunday found the Raiderettes watching the game with the men and women in uniform in Kuwait. Given the time difference, the game’s live telecast presented some logistical challenges. “We slept until 10 p.m., then got dressed and went out to the base,” says Shams. “The game started at 2 a.m. Kuwait time; it was over about 6:30, then we had breakfast and caught a helicopter for Camp Bucca in Iraq … and we were up until 10 p.m. that night. We were pretty exhausted. But the excitement of being on the trip, and knowing we were there to increase the soldiers’ morale, really kept us going.”

Once at Camp Bucca, where the cheerleaders were outfitted with the protective vests and helmets, Ogilvie says she was surprised at the friendliness of the environment. Located on the Iraq-Kuwait border, the facility serves as a prison for some 18,000 military detainees.

“It’s a very simple setting, but it’s very intimate,” says Ogilvie. “The group that took us around was very close-knit; we could tell by how they interacted with each other. We got a great feeling from them and really bonded with them. I actually cried when we flew away.”

Out of respect for the conventions of Middle Eastern culture, Shams and her colleagues left their regular cheerleading costumes at home. “We dressed very conservatively the whole time we were there, mostly in jeans,” Ogilvie says. “We also wore long-sleeved under-armor shirts, and T-shirts provided by Pro MVP.”

Despite the presence of uniformed troops — both American and Iraqi — carrying weapons of various descriptions, neither Ogilvie nor Shams say they felt afraid. Both were happy to entrust their safety to their escorts, and report that they were protected quite rigorously. Still, there were a few instances that reminded the pair that they weren’t exactly in Kansas anymore.

“At one point I felt a little jittery: We were out on the Green Zone, in an area that’s run by the Iraqi military, and we were swarmed by their troops,” Ogilvie says. “Another time we were staying in a hotel in Baghdad, right across from Saddam Hussein’s Al Faw Palace. I sat in a chair that was given to him by [late Palestinian President] Yasser Arafat. I definitely got a creepy feeling, being around things that used to belong to Hussein. But our escorts knew the best ways to keep us safe, and we basically did what they told us to do and we were fine.”

What led the Los Gatans to trade comfort zone for war zone? Says Ogilvie, a Los Gatos native and graduate of Los Gatos High School: “We’re in this beautiful`bubble’ in this town. I wanted to have a more authentic idea of what the world is like. When we got there, the military really took the time to educate us about their mission, they gave us the history of the bases, and helped us to understand why they’re there. I feel like I have a much clearer idea of what’s going on now.”

Adds Shams, “The soldiers were so appreciative of us taking the time to visit them. A lot of the time they think that no one remembers they’re there.”

Given their cover-girl looks and figures (not to mention the outfits they wear on game day), it would be far too simple to dismiss “Football’s Fabulous Females” as stereotypically vapid vessels. Not so fast: Shams, a graduate of Murray State University in her home state of Kentucky, is a sales and marketing executive for a line of skin-care products and antioxidant supplements, is a former member of the Northern California Women’s Hockey League and is active in several organizations dedicated to fighting breast cancer. Her personal life is active as well, as wife to Saratoga native and Sereno Group sales executive Ryan Iwanaga and stepmom to Iwanaga’s 11-year-daughter.

Ogilvie, a graduate of UC-Santa Barbara, where she was on the dean’s list, is pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology at Argosy University in San Francisco. After earning her Ph.D., Ogilvie hopes to work with underserved children in the Bay Area. For the near term she’ll be enjoying some welcome time with her future husband: After 12 years with the Marines and several tours of duty throughout the Middle East, including Afghanistan and Kosovo, Lamb will receive a medical discharge next month.

The cheerleaders’ achievements come as little surprise to Kovac, who herself holds a master’s degree in international business. As the Raiderettes’ chief choreographer for the past 13 years, and having served as the squad’s director since 2004, Kovac is never satisfied with merely adding another pretty face to the lineup.

“When a young woman auditions, which everyone has to do every year — even those who are currently on the squad — I look carefully at every application,” says Kovac. “I insist that a Raiderette must either be in school full time or hold down a full-time job. A few are moms, and if they’re doing that, more power to them. I want everyone to be fully engaged in some way, because they have to be strong role models for youths.

“Anyone can put on makeup and do their hair. What’s important is what’s on the inside.”

While they consider where their travels will lead them next, Shams and Ogilvie will both be taking part in the Raiderettes’ April 19 tryouts. Shams says the process is stressful for Iwanaga each season.

“He’ll call me on the day we’re supposed to hear whether we made it or not, and tell me that he’s pacing up and down and can’t focus,” Shams laughs. “He’s a huge football fan, and he also knows how hard I’ve worked to get here. I didn’t make it onto the team until my third try.”

Ogilvie, who says she rarely feels fear, admits that the process of auditioning is always daunting. But if she were asked to retire her pom-poms after this season, it appears that the Sunday afternoon lineup wouldn’t be the biggest thing she’d miss.

“It’s definitely cool being a cheerleader, because you have opportunities to travel and do things you’d never do otherwise,” she says. “But having the chance to support our troops was really an incredible experience.”

Raiderette auditions will be held April 19 at Club One in Oakland. Interested candidates can visit www.raiders.com/Raiderettes.

PCB Field Trip: ChivaGirl Preliminary Auditions

ChivaGirl auditions started on Sunday Feb 15th at the Home Depot Center in Carson, which is a bit south of Los Angeles. I took tons of photos for you all so you can see how the process went. If you haven’t had a chance to look at them, you can do that right here




I was so excited to be invited because I was really really really looking forward to it. I love going to auditions. LOVE it.

(I’d love it even more if there were no cuts, but alas, that is the nature of the beast…)

One thing about auditions is they are crazy repetitive, but that’s actually one of the best things about the process. It’s a great opportunity to see new choreography, to see what the dancers are made of, to see familiar faces from other auditions and see how they’ve progressed, to see which dancers rise to the top of the pack, and of course it gives me a chance to work on my photography skills (such as they are).

I was particularly excited for these auditions because firstly, I (heart) the ChivaGirls and their director Aimee Edmundson. Secondly, I was hoping that Mr. John Peters would do the choreography, because Mr. John Peters is super-cool. And thirdly, the auditions were scheduled to take place in a building called the Velodrome. What’s a velodrome? Heck if I knew, but once I became aware of its existence, I was compelled to know what goes on inside.

Velodrome…It sounds like a place where mysterious and exciting things happen. As in “Welcome to the Velodrome, where cheerful elves make fairy dust out of rainbows and happy thoughts!”

On the other hand, the Velodrome could also be a place where dark, sinister things happen. Dancers check in, but they don’t check out. As in “Welcome to the Velodrome. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. (Kindly ignore the screams from the basement)”

Continued…

So on Sunday morning, I motored over to the Home Depot Center campus. There are several different venues on the premises, but some helpful person had posted arrows to guide cars in the right direction. When I got there, the nervous-looking girls standing around in track suits were also a good indication that I was in the right place.

I was heading inside, when veteran ChivaGirl Alana, drove into the lot.

When you see a veteran first thing in the morning on audition day, it is NEVER good news.

Alana, it seems, is planning to study abroad this year. And since you can’t be a ChivaGirl whilst living in another country, she is “taking a year off.” WhatEVER. That is no different from when your boyfriend says he wants to “take a break.” Shyeah. You know you’re never gonna see that dude again. We all know what happened when Ross and Rachel took a “break.”

I went inside and woohoo! Harris sister spotting! I love me some Harris sisters. But then, I looked a little farther down the table, and there’s Linette, another ChivaGirl veteran. That did not bode well.

On the one hand, she was wearing dance clothes. On the other hand, she was standing BEHIND the table. Linette retiring too? I told her this was completely unacceptable. She gave me the big old twinkly Linette smile with the dimples and everything. Like that was going to make it ok. I told her to talk to the hand, because the face ain’t listenin’.

So now I was in a MOOD. Because now I had to do a headcount and figure out who all else was flaking out on me.

Yeah, I take it personal when people retire on me. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: you veterans really need to tell me ahead of time if you’re not going to re-audition. You can’t just spring it on me. I’m a very sensitive person and I find this kind of surprise very upsetting. (Clippers Girls, this goes for you too especially. Consider yourselves warned.)

Thankfully, I didn’t see anymore veterans, so I opened the double doors and got my first look at…


The Velodrome

(Imagine the NFL theme music playing in the background.
Wrong sport, but whatever)

The Velodrome is a place where people in spandex, who take biking very seriously, go around and around and around in circles. It’s a big oval track that curves up in some places like the walls in a skate park. Picture a big wooden bowl with twisty sides and a flat bottom.

Random thought: I’ve never been to a roller derby, but this looked like a place where a roller derby might go down. That could be interesting.

You enter the Velodrome at the top, and step downward through the stands to the track. Barriers are in place to keep rowdy fans from jumping down on the track. Another set of barriers separate the track from the floor at the bottom. (I guess those barriers are meant to keep rowdy cyclists from jumping down on the floor…?)

The ChivaGirls audition would of course take place down on the floor. Duh. But there didn’t seem to be a direct path to get down there. This looked to be a serious problem. I was prepared to jump over the barrier if I had to, but that seemed a little extreme.

Then I heard someone call my name and saw my girl Kelley waving from the floor. She then explained to me that – get this – in order to get down there where she was, I’d have to walk down the hall and go through a secret door the ladies room.

THROUGH the ladies room, you say?

Riiiiight. That doesn’t sound shady at all.

I thought we were friends, Kelley, but you know what? You can talk to the hand too. I’ll find my own way down there.

Turns out I owe Kelley an apology for all the uncomplimentary things I said about her under my breath. She was right. You do have to go into the little girls room, where there’s a door that leads to a set of stairs. Those stairs end at another door that takes you outside of the building. Then you have to go along the sidewalk to another door, where you go back inside the building and down another set of stairs, and then up a little ramp and out onto the floor.

I’m not saying the person who designed this building was high at the time. I’m just saying that I do not understand the thought process behind it at all.

If nothing else, the design is horribly inefficient.

Down on the floor, the judges were chatting, and many of the aspiring ChivaGirls were warming up. The veterans were there, which I wasn’t expecting. I eyeballed them and came out with 9 veterans re-auditioning for a team of 17 to 20 dancers. If I were a newbie, I’d consider those pretty good odds.

Best part – two former Clippers girls were auditioning, Tiffany and Laura. Yesss! The two teams I (heart) most are ChivaGirls and Clippers Spirit. When they overlap, it makes me happy. Especially since Laura was one of the girls, and she was, is, and will always be, a freakin’ rock star.



Laura and Tiffany

Meanwhile, I had to find Aimee right away, because I had a little gift for her.

Sidebar: At some point during my formative years, I can’t remember exactly when – somebody, somewhere produced an obscure made-for-tv movie about the Laker Girls. All I remembered was that Tina Yothers was in it and she could not dance at all. Like, not even a little bit. And there was another girl who auditioned who was supposed to be a ballet dancer and she couldn’t dance either. Ballet or otherwise.

Anyway, at a Chivas USA Game last summer, I’d mentioned the movie to Aimee, and she’d revealed that she not only knew about the movie, she was in it.

She was IN the movie.
With Tina Yothers.
And the ballet chick.
Wearing MC Hammer pants.

We were in the ChivaGirls locker room at the time, and Ashley, one of the ChivaGirls, overheard our conversation. Ashley had recently been selected to the 2008-09 Laker Girls, so when she heard us discussing the Laker Girls, her ears perked up. (Not literally, of course). Ashley had never heard of the Laker Girls movie.

Ohmigawd, I had to fix that situation right away.

That night, I went home and scoured the internet for that movie. I really wanted to see Aimee doing the running man in purple and gold harem pants. I also thought it would be educational for Ashley to learn a little about the history of her new team. (I can’t believe they don’t sit all the Laker Girls down and force them to watch this movie as part of their initiation.)

I didn’t find anything on youtube or any of the other video sites, but shockingly, I DID find it on DVD on Amazon. It was only $6 y’all! I immediately ordered three copies. One for Aimee, one for Ashley, and one for myself. (You can get one right here.)

You have GOT to see this movie. It is so awesomely bad. Tina Yothers starts out as a rollerskating carhop somewhere in the Midwest. From there it just gets better and better.

All the major themes for cinematic excellence are represented here. A hero. A villain. Sibling rivalry. Adventure. Dance. Glamour. Romance. Ambition. Deceipt. Forgiveness. Fame and fortune. What it lacks in explosions and high speed chase scenes, it makes up for in big hair and belted leotards.

I could not wait to give the DVD to Aimee, so when I found her I presented it with a flourish. As if I’d done something extremely clever.

Mr. John Peters came over while I was talking to Aimee. Mr. John Peters is THE MAN when it comes to this type of choreography. Nobody can touch him. He knows right where the line is with this kind of dance. Big, but not too big. Sassy, but not trashy. Cute but not cutsie. The man knows the value of a well-placed kick or turn.



So he came over, cool hair and all, and revealed a deep dark secret: Not only was Aimee in the Laker Girl movie, but she was also in the movie Teen Witch.

Shut. Up. Teen Witch???

This is totally off-topic, but I have to reminisce for a moment. You HAVE seen Teen Witch, right? Not “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” I’m talking about the original, the first, the OG movie. Dorky girl finds out she’s a witch and uses her magical powers to transform herself into the most popular girl in school and snag the hunky captain of the football team.

That’s not even the best thing about this movie. The best thing is ….

…wait for it…

….it is a MUSICAL. Featured songs include “I like boys” and “I’m gonna be the most popular girl.”

“I like boys” features the cool girls who rule the school dancing around in the girls locker room. The lyrics go something like this: “I’m turning in my teddy bear for a leather mini skirt because I. LIKE. BOYS.”




There is also a rap number.

So. Awesome.

I have a whoooole new level of respect for Aimee. And for Mr. John Peters, who actually sang part of the chorus for me.

(I don’t know why I call him Mr. John Peters. I just do. I’m sure his pals call him John, or Peters, or Johnny P., or something.)

Still reeling after that revelation, I trotted off to get my camera stuff together. I was skipping along happily, when WHAM! Next thing I know, I’m on the floor. Had I been paying attention, I might have noticed the five-inch drop from the wooden layer to the concrete floor beneath it.

I landed on my hands and knees, which you might think is no big deal, except it made a really loud noise when my palms slapped down on the wooden floor. THWAP! So of course Aimee and Mr. John Peters, and God knows who else turned around, and I’m trying to jump up like “I’m okay, I’m okay, nothing to see here folks.” Only I can’t jump right up because my ankle kind of hurts, and the only thing worse than falling in the first place, is trying to get up and then falling again.



A sign would’ve been helpful.

I don’t know how it did it, but I managed to get up, all casual-like, and stroll over to a seat, where I took a few minutes to break into a nervous sweat, calm down, cool down, and evaluate myself for broken body parts.

All of my limbs were intact, so it was time to get to work. First order of business: get photos of all the dancers before the auditions. This has always been the hardest part for me, walking up to a total stranger like “hey, what’s up, can I take a picture?” So here’s how I handled it: I’d mosey on up to a group of girls and ask if any of them saw me fall on my face just now.




After that, it was time to start the auditions. Aimee welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, and then Mr. John Peters began teaching the choreography. He had some helpers to assist him in demonstrating the dance: Linette, of course. Summer from the Charger Girls, and Laker Girls Jeri-Faye and Nicole.

FYI: there were Laker Girls, past and present, throughout this whole ChivaGirls experience. It was a bit shocking, as I have been scheming to ingratiate myself with the Laker Girls for several years now – with zero progress. But I will not give up. Some of my Clippers girls and ChivaGirls are over there, and I demand to know what they’re up to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m obsessed with the Laker Girls, it just that the harder they make it for me, the more determined I am to infiltrate the entire organization. Um…on second thought, I probably shouldn’t be writing this in a public forum.

My point, anyway, is that this pro dance stuff is a small world. I’m starting to see a lot of familiar faces.

By the way, I’ve decided that I would also like to have a hyphenated name. Sasha-Faye? Sasha-Lee? Sasha-Lynn, maybe? Perhaps I’ll change my name to Sasha-Lynn and pursue a career in country music.



Jeri-Faye and Nicole.
FYI: Jeri-Faye was a ChivaGirl in 2007


Summer

Wow, do I know how to veer off topic, or what?
Back to the ChivaGirls audition…

While the teaching and learning was going on, I circled around to find the best angle for photos. See, the first thing you gotta do in this situation is figure out which way everyone will be facing for the money shots – the kicks, the leaps, the moments in the dance when they slow down for half a second. There were 2 or 3 professional photographers there, so I tried to watch and imitate.

For a while, I sat on the floor in front of the judges table, but then I noticed a short set of stairs leading up to a small platform above the judges. A couple of the photographers were up there and I thought to myself “hmmm…this looks promising.” So up I went. It was a good spot for capturing the action. (In a minute, you’ll understand why this is relevant.)

The music was a song called “Krazy” by Pitbull (feat. Lil Jon). I hadn’t heard this song before. It goes like this: “…(la la la la) KRAZY, (la la la la ) Krazy, (la la la la) Krazy.” (The “la la la’s” being the part I didn’t know.) I’m pretty sure one of the lines is “Yo mama, she gets Krazy.” Here’s a link, so’s you can hear the song.

One of the things that makes Mr. John Peters fun is the way he teaches. The way he describes everything not only makes it easier to do, but also easier to remember. There’s the “karate,” the “kick the cat,” (I forgive you Mr. John Peters for being a cat hater,) the “hand on the shelf,” the “single hootchie,” the “double hootchie,” and my favorite, the “Disney.” He had to help some of the girls figure out the vibe of the dance. It wasn’t supposed to be all “pretty pretty princess,” you know? But don’t go too far in the other direction – this isn’t a 50 Cent video. This is a dance team, ok? It’s family entertainment, not the nudie bar.

Not that I know what goes on at the nudie bar.




They were about halfway through the choreography when I managed to make a jackass of myself all over again. Only this time it wasn’t just a few people who saw me. Everyone saw me. EVERYONE. I am not exaggerating in any way, shape, or form. I actually hid afterward.

Remember that I mentioned I was sitting up on the platform behind the judges? Everything was fine – until I decided to get up. Somehow, in the process of standing up, I managed to crack my head on a metal sign attached to nearby pole.

It is very important to me that you understand that this sign was attached to a free-standing metal stand. I don’t just go around knocking into stationary objects. This sign had been moved to a place where I did not expect it to be. I’m not saying someone was out to get me. I’m just saying that thing was NOT there when I sat down.

I didn’t knock it over or fall on it or anything, if that’s what you’re thinking. No no, that would be too simple. Let me tell you about this sign. This sign had a bell on it. I’m not talking about cute little jingle bells, or sleigh bells, or door bells. I’m talking about a big “have you been to Philadelphia and seen the Liberty Bell?” kind of bell. I hit the sign, and the bell went “BONG.” It wasn’t a little “bong” either. It was an enormous “Hey everybody, stop what you’re doing and look at me!!!” BOOOOONG.


Why me, God?
Why me all the time?

Aimee looked up and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was working on a concussion, and she was like “geez, I can’t take you anywhere.”

One of the other photographers just looked at me and shook his head.



Stupid bleeping sign.

Oh well. It wasn’t the most embarrassing moment of my life, and it for sure won’t be the last.

I waited for everyone to go back to what they were doing, then gingerly made my way back down to the floor, where I stayed put and did not move one inch until Round One started. My head hurt. My ankle hurt, and my dignity was in tatters. I was thinking, Aimee’s going to make me sign a waiver before she lets me into finals. If she lets me into finals.

First my ankle and then my skull. Things tend to happen in threes, you know. I spent the rest of the day expecting an anvil to fall from the sky and flatten me like a pancake, Wile E. Coyote-style.

After teaching the combination, the DJ put the song on a continuous loop so the dancers could practice. I noticed that they all scooted off to one side, out of the judges’ direct line of vision.

I scurried over to my bag, pausing to warn the Harris sisters to be careful, as it was obvious the whole entire building was booby trapped.

The time between learning the choreography and the actual audition, is one of the most interesting parts of the day. This is the part when you look around and start picking your favorites. (You don’t discuss any of this with the judges of course.) Some girls sat down and looked rather relaxed. Some marked the choreography along with the music. A few danced full out.


Don’t forget, there are loads more photos right here


It warmed the cockles of my heart to see the veterans helping some of the other girls. I noticed Amy and Marie in particular, walking through the counts with a couple of girls who seemed unsure about the steps.

If Dr. Laura was here, she would point at Marie and Amy and say (in her grand Dr. Laura way) “those two are women of character!” (That’s a complement, by the way. Dr. Laura is sometimes right about things.)

Speaking of Marie, I forgot to mention one other thing. The ChivaGirls 2009 calendar has just been released. Marie made me remember, because she’s on the cover (with Alana and Jessica.)

That calendar came out gore-juss. I’ll tell you lots more about the calendar some other time, but I assure you, it’s a fine piece of work. I spotted a stack of calendars, helped myself to one, and took it around the room for everyone to oooh and ahhh with me.



(This crappy photo I took doesn’t do justice to the cover at all.)

I am awfully proud of that calendar, which makes no sense, since I had nothing to do with the making of it.

Meanwhile, this was a good time to check out the outfits. Most of the girls were wearing the standard bright-colored two-piece ensemble. There were a few notable exceptions, though. One girl was wearing a teeny yellow skirt, which was super cute. Another girl was wearing a sparkly bra-top under a black mesh top. A third girl was wearing silver hot pants and matching silver shoes.

Nothing says “confidence” like silver hot pants.

My favorite top was red with a bow in the middle and red paillettes all over. (Pailettes are big fancy sequins with the hole at the top instead of in the middle.)

(Why am I explaining this? There is not one person reading this, thinking “Wow, I always wondered what pailettes are, and now I know. Thanks Sasha!”)

The bow is what put it over the top for me. Not as cute in the photo as in real life, but still super cute, right?

I’ve seen this girl at a few different auditions now. I wish I knew her name, so I could be all “hey, there’s Cindy.” (Or whatever her name is.) Instead of “hey, there’s that blonde girl I’ve seen before.”




Right. So after some rehearsal, it was time to start the auditions. There they went, three at a time. It was not easy. They had to freestyle for a few counts and then jump right into the choreography at a place that wasn’t completely obvious. I thought they all did a good job, and a few really sparkled. It went really fast.

La la la la Krazy. La la la la Krazy. La la la la Krazy.

I found out later that Silver Hot Pants messed up the choreography and instead of freaking out, she did a couple back flips. I can’t believe I missed it. Let that be a lesson to all. If you screw up, it’s not about how bad you look, it’s about how well you recover. Seems to me like a pretty good way to get the judges’ attention – if you’re willing to risk it. The judges don’t remember her as “the girl who messed up.” They remember her as “the girl who did a back flip.” (And made it to finals, by the way.)

In silver hot pants.

After everyone had a turn to perform, there was a break for the judges to deliberate. (I try to tune out during that part. Otherwise, I might offer my advice at a time when nobody’s looking for it.)



Spying on the judges. Mwahahahaha…

I think this is when the bikers started to show up. Not “Hell’s Angels” bikers. Bicycle bikers. Going around and around, like there was nothing else going on in the room.



If I were a professional bike rider, I’d put some cool tassels on my handle bars.

It wasn’t too long before the judges announced the first cut. One of the girls I was particularly rooting for didn’t make it, leaving me with some very upset feelings, in addition to the throbbing in my ankle and the dent in the top of my head.

After the cut, we took a group photo of all the girls who made it to the next round.




Then it was time to learn the rest. Rather than teaching a different combination for the second round, Mr. John Peters added on to the choreography they’d already learned. The new stuff included a calypso leap, (anything with the word “calypso” in it is bound to be fun), and ended with a dramatic, Flashdancy kind of pose.


calypso!


The big finish


I can’t remember if the new stuff was longer than the old stuff. It seemed to take less time to learn it though. And then it was time for the second cut.



Each group of 3 performed the dance. After that, they were called up to the judges’ table to say their name and a little about their dance history.

The first few groups had to answer off the cuff. Later groups found out what the questions were, and had a moment or two to prepare. Unfair, I say!

Each girl was asked if she speaks Spanish. Woe unto to those who lied about it, though because then one of the judges would ask a couple of questions in Spanish. It wasn’t difficult stuff – what do you like to do in your free time, what’s your favorite food, where are your parents from, etc. But it was enough to tell a native speaker from a poser. There were no posers in the house though. Those who couldn’t speak Spanish admitted it, and several volunteered to purchase Rosetta Stone. That’s not to say that you have to speak Spanish to be a ChivaGirl. Many of the veterans do not speak Spanish. But they do like to have at least a few Spanish-speakers on the team.




After that, there were more deliberations, and then another cut. I took the opportunity to go out to my car to fetch Ashley’s copy of the Laker Girls movie. I don’t have Ashley’s contact info, so I wasn’t sure how to get it to her, but as luck would have it, Jeri-Faye agreed to pass it on. (After giving me the “you are a very strange person” look, which was understandable. If I weren’t me, I’d wonder what I was doing running around with an obscure Laker Girls DVD like it was secret footage of the aliens crashing at Roswell.)

By this time, I was feeling some pain. I managed to play it off and walk normally while inside the Thunderdome. Er… I mean the Velodrome. But as soon as those double doors closed behind me, it was like “OOOOOOW, ow, ow, ow, ow!” It seemed to take forever to get up those stairs, shuffle out to my car, grab the movie, and shuffle back inside and down the stairs.

(FYI: going down the stairs actually hurts waaaaay more than going up them. That was a nasty little surprise.)

I handed the DVD to Jeri-Faye. She wanted to watch the movie too, and I told her she absolutely should. I think they should pass it around and all the Laker Girls should watch it. If for no other reason than to see their director Lisa Estrada, in the role of “Beth” the choreographer. Tee hee.

I made it back inside just in time for the final cut. All of the veterans made it. A couple of my other favorites also made it. All in all, 30 girls were left standing. I had them all gather together for another group photo, and then it was time to go.


Day 1 was over.


Candidate interviews were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, leading up to Wednesday’s finals. (I’ll tell you about finals in a few days.)

Incidentally, for those who care, that night my ankle blew up to the size of a small grapefruit. I couldn’t walk on it at all, but I needed an ice pack and some Advil in the worst way so I had to find a way to get to the kitchen. Unfortunately, my knees were horribly bruised too, so I couldn’t even crawl there. I wound up using my vacuum cleaner as a crutch. (By the way, I do NOT recommend that, as most vacuum cleaners have wheels on the bottom and sometimes move when you do not expect them to.)


Stupid Velodrome.

Read on…


Raiderette Travel Diary: Japan

Raiderette Cole’s Visit to Japan
February 24, 2009
Raiders.com

* Video interview with Raiderette Cole *

Recently, veteran Raiderette Cole had the opportunity, along with seven other NFL cheerleaders, to visit Japan and work with NFL Japan on several initiatives and awareness campaigns with regard to NFL football. Cole took time out to chronicle her experiences. Also, Raiders.com’s Jeanette Thompson had a chance to sit down with Cole for a one-on-one video interview upon Cole’s return from Japan.

By Raiderette Cole

This is my very first time traveling to Japan, and I am so honored to be representing the NFL, and the Oakland Raiders on this tour. Thank you for inviting me to share my experience with the Raider Nation.

I met with all the team representatives that will be participating in the tour, and Maria Giannini, the director of E2k entertainment production company, at San Francisco International Airport. The ladies I went on tour with included Lauren – San Francisco 49ers; Lindsay – New England Patriots; Melanie – Seattle Seahawks; Fabiola – Miami Dolphins; Kazuyo – NY Jets; Marisa – San Diego Chargers; and Lauren – Philadelphia Eagles. Lauren, from the Eagles however, arrived later than the rest of us due to the playoffs.

I was very fortunate to sit next to such a great couple on my flight over to Japan. Americans Mary and Mark have lived in Japan for over 25 years. They were so generous to share details about the Japanese culture. They explained the currency, or the “yen” rather. I’ve never seen such a more beautiful currency than the Yen.

The 13-hour flight flew by because I was in such great company. We deplaned, hopped on a charter bus and headed to our hotel, The New Otani, which is gorgeous! We checked into our rooms and walked to a nearby local restaurant to eat our first Japanese-style meal. We had to take off our shoes to enter, and they gave us lockers to store our things. Kazuio, with the Jets, is originally from Tokyo, Japan. So she is very familiar with the area and more importantly she was able to communicate for all of us because she speaks fluent Japanese. We are all so grateful she is here because she is teaching us so much. We couldn’t have asked for better hands-on education. We have such a busy agenda coming up, so we went back to our rooms to get some sleep.

Day 1:
We all met at the top of The New Otani Tower for breakfast, and a kick off meeting with the team from NFL Japan. We learned, in more detail, about what is to be expected of us on this trip and the messages they really want us to communicate to gain a larger fan base here in Japan. Basically our mission was to communicate in our interviews key points about NFL football as if we were explaining the sport to someone for the very first time. We are introducing the sport and motivating them to tune in [to NFL football].

After our meeting we went straight to the studio and got to work. I led the team through a group stretch and then we practiced three sideline routines together. We had already learned the material via DVD prior to our departure. So when we got together it was basically cleaning the routines, formations, and just learning to dance together, as we all come from different teams, with different styles. Everyone was so professional, and prepared that practice went by quickly. We broke for lunch and then traveled by subway into the city where we were able to explore and sightsee a bit. When we returned to the hotel Lauren from the Eagles had arrived. She was my roommate for the remainder of the trip. We all went to Trader Vics for dinner, and quickly got ready for our first performance together. “Sporto” is the highest rated sports program on Fuji TV. It was a LIVE appearance, and it airs at midnight, which seems late for the most popular sports show, and is really late for us because we are still adjusting to the time difference, and have jet lag. However we managed to put on a great show, which consisted of one dance performance to Christina Aguilera’s “Keeps getting Better,” and an interview session with us as a group. We got back to the hotel around 1:00 a.m. to get some sleep.

Day 2:
Up at 6:30 a.m., and at 8 a.m. we had a quick group breakfast at the hotel then we got on our official NFL Japan Tour bus. We headed to the “Star Maker Studios” in Shiba, for a photo shoot. This was an extra special shoot because we were all posing in our team identified uniforms together for our “Team Photo Card.” This photo card will be used to sign autographs, and is given to the fans at our appearances.

Immediately after the shoot we went back to the hotel to practice. From practice we went to the Yokota Air Base. At this appearance we had to perform our solo introduction, all three sideline dance routines, and a trivia session with the audience. Each cheerleader made up two questions to ask the audience, one question was to be a difficult question, and the second to be easy. My difficult trivia question was a historical one, what is the name of the first Raider player ever to be inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame? Answer, my favorite, Jim Otto. My easy trivia question was who is the owner of The Oakland Raiders? Answer, Al Davis, of course (too easy). We then followed up this event with an autograph session and photo session. Then we went back to the hotel to change and we went to Zen in Roppongi for an amazing sushi dinner.

Day 3:
022409 Cole performs with NFL cheerleadersUp at 6 a.m., 8 a.m. group breakfast at the New Otani, immediately followed by a dance rehearsal for about an hour. Then we loaded up our tour bus and headed to Venus Fort, Odaiba for the event I have been looking forward to most, The NFL Cheer Challenge 2009. This event was such a special event because the Japanese dance teams were to compete, and we were to judge the competition. Over 200 fans showed up for this event. The competition consisted of teams with ages that range from 4 to 19. The performances were amazing, high energy, and great choreography, and technique. I especially enjoyed the younger girls, they were so cute, and we all were so impressed with how they managed to retain all the material for their dance routines. There were two awards given out, and the competition was fierce. We then performed with Q and A session and interview to follow.

Then we walked back to Fuji TV for “Mezamashi,” another TV appearance, this a morning show. We were all interviewed regarding our experience in Japan, our experience as NFL cheerleaders, and of course the Super Bowl. From there we went NTV which stands for Nittelle Television. NTV is the #1 watch network in Japan. The program we were on is “Urugusa” which is the #1 sports program in Japan, and we performed again LIVE at midnight. On this show we performed “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga, followed by an interview. This was a long, fun and productive day.

Day 4:
022409 Cole performs on Japanese TVOur first event was a viewing party at a western-style restaurant, where we mingled with the 100 plus fans that showed, signed autographs on our photo cards, and met with the executives for Coors Light Japan. This event ended with follow up interview for a behind-the-scenes segment they will be using for NFL Japan.com.

After this event we freshened up and went to Dentsu, Japan’s #1 Advertising Agency. This was not on our original Itinerary, this was an added special meeting because of all our exposure, the Dentsu executives invited us for a round-table meeting, Very intense. We introduced ourselves, answered questions regarding our respective teams, the Super Bowl, and our experience in Japan. This was a very exciting meeting, intense, but exciting because Dentsu is a very powerful company and can give NFL Japan top exposure.

After our meeting we walked to NTV studios for another LIVE performance on “Real Time.” Then we went to the TV shooting of “NFL Club.” We filmed this segment on location at “Ukaitei” restaurant. The setting was a traditional Japanese-style dinning and featured real authentic Japanese cuisine. We were to eat and enjoy the meal that is prepared for us, as we are being interviewed as guests on the show. Rather unusual setting, however delicious and fun. Nachi Abe joined us as a surprise guest. He is an ex-NFL football player with experience with NFL Europa and is now in broadcasting in Japan.

Then we went back to NTV studios for our usual midnight LIVE appearance but this time on “News Zero.” Were we a featured on the sports corner of the program. We performed our solo routines, followed by interviews. Then we went right back to the hotel to rest a bit before our next appearance.

Day 5:
022409 Cole and cheerleaders gets ready for video shootUp at 4:00 a.m., call time 5 a.m. We headed back to NTV studios for an early morning show called “Zoom-In Super.” This show is equal to “Good Morning America” in the United States.

IT WAS FREEZING! They had us perform outside. They gave us huge down jackets and coffee to stay warm. We took our coats off literally seconds before our performance. Immediately after our performances the hosts of the show interviewed us as we shivered in our uniforms. At least I have sleeves, if you watch the clip Fabiola from Miami is shivering uncontrollably. We then wrapped up the show, joining the hosts say their famous catch phrase, “Zoom-In”

We went back to the hotel to rest for a bit, because we only had three hours sleep the night before. After resting we jumped on our tour bus, with our NFL entourage and went to Asakusa, Harajuku for some sightseeing and shopping on the Takeshita Dori street. This is where we were able to get our friends, family, and teammates souvenir gifts. We visited the Temple, and were blessed by the smoke with health, wealth and happiness.

Later that day we arrived in Shibuya for a quick dance rehearsal, and changed for our next performance, which was actually my favorite performance of our tour. This event was called “The NFL Night Special.” This was a talk show/ performance/ Super Bowl trivia/ Live event. The venue had a nightclub feel with great lighting, and was sold out with a capacity of 200. We performed all three dance routines. We had a Q and A segment. Then the award-winning dancers form the Cheer Challenge performed. We did a raffle drawing for prizes (team autographed footballs and t-shirts). Then we had our challenge, The Super Bowl Trivia Challenge. Audience members were selected at random to form a team and they were to compete with us! It was a close match. However they won by only one point, they were very knowledgeable. We ended this event with a photo session. After the event we shot a quick commercial teaser for “Sporto Ladies Day.” Then we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe Tokyo, for well-deserved American-style burgers!

Day 6:
022409 Cole in JapanUp at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. group breakfast. It was starting to sink in that our trip was coming to an end. We all started to get a little sad because this was our final day, and final performance. We got on our tour bus and went to J-POP cafe in Shibuya. The TV shooting for NHK’s “Best Sports” show. We performed one final dance routine, to “Keeps Getting Better,” which was so fitting because we had all gotten better, and each of us had grown so much from this experience. From traveling to Japan, to celebrating our NFL, to sharing what we are a part of in our individual organizations, and celebrating our communities. It made me feel so proud to be an NFL cheerleader, and justified my role as a role model within our community and as an ambassador for our organization.

That evening we had a farewell dinner at the famous restaurant Nobo. NFL Japan presented us with a very special necklace which I found to be so generous and thoughtful. If there is one thing I could expose to you all about the Japanese culture, it is that the people are so polite, kind, and generous. We went out that evening and explored the night club scene in Tokyo. Interestingly enough, they all play American music!

Day 7:
We said our goodbye’s to the NFL Japan crew, which took such great care of us. We exchanged email addresses and contact information with all the members of the tour, and I slept the entire plane ride home.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank The Oakland Raiders, Karen Kovac, Maria Giannini, E2k entertainment, Jiro San, NFL Japan, and the NFL for this opportunity. I feel so blessed to be able to live out my dream of being an NFL cheerleader. This is an experience I will cherish because it validated my purpose in this great sport we are all so passionate about, and my contribution as an ambassador for our organization.

Many Cheers!
Cole

Cheering with the Force: Shannon McClattie

From the Website of the South Carolina Force:

Shannon McClattie was named Director and Choreographer of your South Carolina Force Cheerleaders.

She comes to the organization with a wealth of experience in dance and professional cheerleader knowledge. An 11-year professional cheerleading veteran with the Panthers, she has assisted in choreographing show team shows, the 2000 millennium halftime show, and performed in St. John’s, Newfoundland at the 2001 Bud Bowl. In 2005 she represented the Panthers at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii and in 2006 in a nationally televised show competing with other professional cheerleading teams.

Shannon is no stranger to hard work and works full time as a Forensic Social Work Investigator for the Department of Social Services.

She earned a BA in Criminal Justice from Fort Valley State University where she served 3 years as Captain of the Blue Machine Marching Band Dance team, The Dancing Dolls. After graduating college, she choreographed dance routines for high schools in Georgia and Florida.

“My goal is to have a great season with this organization and bring my professionalism to the cheerleading team so that the finished product is one the city and surrounding area can be proud of. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with the Force and look forward to a winning season” says McClattie. Shannon also states “My motto has always been ‘Don’t watch the show, be the show’ and I plan to incorporate my enthusiasm and love for dance and football together to bring to the fans the best cheerleading team in the AIFA”

The South Carolina Force gladly welcomes Shannon McClattie into its organization.

Auditions for the South Carolina Force Cheerleaders are Sunday, March 8th in Greeneville. Complete details here.

Eagles seek new cheerleaders

By Peter Mucha, Staff Writer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Feb. 17, 2009

[Last] weekend’s combine isn’t the only talent search gearing up in the NFL.

During the next nine weeks, the Eagles will host a series of events to restock their cheerleading squad.

Every year, about 15 rookies earn spots, along with about two dozen returning vets.

“We have a really busy couple of months planned,” said Barbara Zaun, director of cheerleading.

And that’s not including late April’s NFL draft party, the yearly May calendar shoot, or the July visit by six cheerleaders to Iraq to entertain troops.

Regular Eagles fans should know that only two of these events are open to the public, the draft party and the April 21 cheerleader audition finals.

This year, the finale will be at a smaller venue, the Prince Music Theater in Center City. So the tickets – $22.50 each – are likely to disappear quickly when they go on sale later this month, Zaun said.

Here are the dates that rah-rah wannabes, who must be 18 and a high school graduate, will want to know:

Pre-Audition Workshop, Feb. 25. Optional event at Lincoln Financial Field. Experts, including team choreographer Suzy Zucker, will advise about dancing, hair and makeup, and health and fitness. Includes mock tryout, plus question-and-answer session with current cheerleaders. No judging. Cost is $45.

Open Call Tryouts, March 28. Lincoln Financial Field. Required for would-be rookies. Hundreds of women learn a dance routine, then take turns performing in groups of five before two panels of judges.

Audition Semifinals, March 30 and April 1: About 130 invitees, including squad members seeking to return, will be given a dance routine to learn at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia. The following day, they’ll perform in groups of three, and talk with judges about themselves.

Audition Finals, April 21: Sixty finalists will compete in a variety of categories, including dance, fitness and beauty at Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St.

Next week’s workshop will be limited to 250 contestants, who will automatically be registered for the open-call auditions, Zaun said.

The workshop helps women who might be worried about their confidence, and can improve prospects’ chances, Zaun said. They get how-to tips on everything from fitness (“to firm up your abs, exactly”) to beauty (“to help them understand the glamorous aspect of being an Eagles cheerleader”) to proper nutrition.

Improve your diet, she said, and “your body’s going to look much better in just a month’s time.”

For sign-up information, go to www.philadelphiaeagles.com and click “Cheerleaders.”

Once the squad is set, following the finals, members quickly prepare for the new squad’s debut at the annual draft day party.

Then comes the calendar shoot.

“We are looking for a tropical destination again, and most likely it would early to mid May,” Zaun said.

The cheerleaders, who are paid an hourly rate, make $400 to $1,000 a month and usually hold other jobs.

KC dancers – are you ready to go pro?

Fluid Dance Convention is coming to Kansas City, featuring former Nuggets dancer and director Sarah Schachterle and Jabbawockeez choreographer Ken Jiminez.

Going Pro Entertainment will feature a special one-day program for college and professional dance audition prep, with special guests Mandy Pruett, the University of Kansas Dance Team Coach; Gretchen Bretz, the former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and Kansas City Brigade Girls Coach; and choreography by Jenni Hanson from the local Best Dance Crew Nu Swagger. Take advantage of several partner discounts for skin care, fitness, photography, dance training, attire and more.
Fluid Dance Convention – Going Pro Agenda
Westin Crown Center Hotel – Kansas City, Missouri
Saturday, March 7, 2009 8am-5pm

$99.00 for one day, $160.00 for full weekend
Register at www.fluiddance.com
Download the official flyer at www.goingproentertainment.com/events

Gilbert woman finds fame in swimsuit issue

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.

Oberg panicked.

“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.