One of my good girlfriends in Arizona coaches the Sidewinders aka the Arizona Rattlers Dance Team and last night she shared a beyond awesome video with me of a performance during one of their arena football games. I started watching the video thinking her girls looked GREAT, dancing so clean and sharp…and then out of nowhere a “football player” – IN UNIFORM, jumps in and breaks it down…easily outshining the ladies! I told her this is too awesome not to share and she replied by telling me he was responsible for choreographing the whole routine too!! LOVE IT! Press play, you won’t regret it!
One of the things that people always like to “remember” about me is that I am a former Oakland Raiderette…and I am. However, before I ever stepped foot on an NFL sideline, I had the honor of dancing among some of the most beautiful dancers I have ever shared the stage with…as a member of the Sacramento Kings FastBreak Dance Team. It was the first professional (sports) dance team I had ever been part of, and it was a very memorable experience, from the great friends I made, to the the excitement of dancing on an NBA court and being part of the Sacramento Kings community.
Well, this past weekend we had a “reunion,” where the Kings invited back FastBreak Alumni to once again hit the hardwood and dance for the crowd during its game versus the Washington Wizards. Not all the ladies made it back, but there was about 30 alumni who were able to make it for the performance. It was such good times…a real sisterhood and pleasure for me to stand among the same beautiful dancers.
We did a minute and a half dance routine to “Uptown Funk,” during a second quarter timeout and overall, we all still “got it!” 🙂 And — one of the things that made this extra special for me was to have my family by my side, because for me, there’s no point in doing what you love if you can’t share it with the ones you love! <3
Watch a video of our performance, and see some pictures from the event below…
I had a whirlwind weekend in Atlanta this past weekend, and while I would’ve loved to have been able to have been there a little longer, it was an unforgettable 24 hours in the ATL. The reason that brought me there was to attend the 2014 national Football Cheerleaders Reunion. The event is still in it’s baby stages, this only being the 2nd reunion ever to include all Alumni from NFL teams across the map. I missed the 1st reunion in 2012, as I had just had my first child, but I knew I wasn’t going to miss this one! The Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders Alumni hosted this event, and did an absolutely amazing job putting it all together. I’m so glad my limited time did not deter me from attending, it was so totally worth it to be there for the Saturday night gala and stand among some 250+ women, all Alumni of the various NFL Cheers teams…even the ones that don’t exist anymore!
There is nothing like being in a room full of women who have gone through the auditions, practices, workouts and game days you love and cherish. It’s an amazing almost indescribable experience, an instant bond, like being in a sorority, a real sisterhood where you KNOW these women KNOW exactly what it’s like to stand and cheer on the NFL sidelines.
All in all, 24 teams spanning 50 years of NFL Cheerleading, were represented, some that don’t even exist anymore. So if you didn’t know…now you do. The Pittsburgh Steelerettes, Chicago Honey Bears and Houston Oilers Derrick Dolls all had alumni in attendance. And –while I was the lone Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader alumni, there was also a former St. Louis Cardinals cheerleader in the building!
In the photo above are current and former directors of NFL Cheer Teams…and in the center is Suzanne Mitchell, the original director for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, a legendary woman, who spoke to us about how it all came to be…it was such an emotional moment feeling the deep love and appreciation everyone in the room has for her, knowing she was a huge part in paving the way for what the opportunity has become today.
I had a great time meeting A Raiderette sister, Elaine, who was an LA Raiderette before moving to Indy where she danced for the Pacers and Colts. I met the very sweet Lisa Guerrero who is a fellow broadcaster and former LA Rams Cheerleader…her resume also includes directing the Falcons and Patriots Cheerleaders. My roomie for the weekend is a fellow AFC West Alumni Cheerleader, Shannon Oleen who was a Chiefs Cheerleader. She is also an amazing public speaker who delivers inspirational messages and impressed at the Alumni Gala with her “10 Reasons You KNOW You’re an NFL Cheerleader.” All of them, so much fun!!!
There is nothing like line dancing and doing the “Wobble” with 200 plus former cheerleaders or busting out with game day choreography with your sisters on the dance floor. Cheers go out to Mickey Crawford who runs the Atlanta Alumni group and made this reunion happen, along with Terri Lamb who is the head of the Redskins Cheer Alumni group. I have had the pleasure of knowing them both for a few years now and I see their vision for uniting all the talented and amazing women who all share the distinction of being NFL Cheerleaders. I feel so blessed to have made so many new friends and just to be part of this elite network of women who are my sisters. I can’t wait for our next shin dig in 2016! Buffalo or bust!!!
Yes, I was an Oakland Raiderette…and am still a proud alumni! So news of a lawsuit by a current – on her way out former Raiderette from the most recent season has hit the media, and I couldn’t resist giving my 2 cents, okay it’s more like a lot of SENSE!! And this all comes on the heels of a new petition on behalf of ALL NFL Cheerleaders (completely unrelated) to get MORE PAY!
Check these links for background:
Busted Coverage – Cheerleader Sues Raiders for Withholding Pay & Not Paying Minimum Wage **this article contains a copy of the actual lawsuit paperwork filed**
ESPN – Cheerleader Files Suit Against Raiders
Pay Petition – for all NFL Teams Cheerleaders
But seriously, this is sparking so much debate among Raiderette Alumni and people in general, that I just had to put my thoughts down and share…so here goes…
YES…being a PRO TEAM Dancer/Cheerleader is a low paying job…I’ve been on 3 teams in the NBA and NFL. Do I believe the compensation should be more, yes, that would be nice to be paid for my time and talent, but here’s the reality (from my dancing days):
- Cheerleaders (Raiders) are paid a per game stipend, practice is not paid and certain community/charity events may also be non paid. There are other paid appearance opportunities and you are always told the pay, location and summary of all events before you sign up. Other pro teams do receive a minimum wage for practice. You also receive tickets for the game as part of the compensation.
- Team members sign a contract acknowledging and agreeing to the terms of pay, attendance, expectations (hair, makeup, nails, citizenship, etc…), duties, hours, and it is often a requirement for those selected to hold some type of job or be a student outside of the team.
- Members are required to maintain and meet fitness/appearance requirements, all of which are discussed and agreed to…gym membership and stylist discounts are also given by sponsors. And while some of the ladies may take that as required weekly manicures or regular haircuts and color, those are optional expenses the ladies incur at their own discretion…again they AGREED to this.
- Travel to appearances may sometimes be out of area, but if you sign up to drive 90 miles, I’m saying, don’t complain about it.
- Fines are incurred when you are late for practice, games, events or if you forget required equipment, attire, etc… I have no issue with this, money is the best motivator to get people to stay on top of their game.
So my thing is, at auditions… candidates are WELL AWARE of what it takes to make the team and what the job entails, if selected among the HUNDREDS, sometimes THOUSANDS of hopefuls. I think the general public assumes it is a full time job and doesn’t realize the reality of what goes on behind the glamour – hours of practice, appearances and prep, but truth be told, after all the hard work, hours of sweat, all the tears shed, dedication and miles driven, what you take home doesn’t even cover gas costs! However, the majority (if not all) of the ladies in the pro ranks aren’t doing it “for the money.” What this job offers are priceless memories and friendships, unique experiences and once in a lifetime opportunities. As a pro team cheerleader I was able to network and meet countless top level executives from a wide range of industries, work alongside community leaders and influencers, travel and represent teams in the most elite sports leagues and given the platform to be part of game day entertainment in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans!
Honestly, this gets me worked up because I am protective of the “sisterhood.” I do see the point of being paid more and it would be well-deserved, but the reality is that being a Raiderette or part of any pro team is a privilege and honor, that is priceless!! IF this suit is successful, I think a few things could happen. It may be possible that teams do away with cheerleaders altogether or make it a volunteer job with NO stipend. However, since the cheerleaders are vital to branding and bring in millions of dollars for the team, maybe they shrink the squads down to only a dozen or less, to make them full-time staff. But, let’s be honest, the hundreds of women that try out would do it for free, and these days the spots are so coveted that they enlist the coaching of people like me, through Going Pro Entertainment, to give them advice and pointers on how to make a team!
It will be interesting to see what happens. I worked full time outside of my position as a pro team cheerleader/dancer, with each team I was lucky enough to be a member of…and I would do it all over again for the same “low” pay.
Science Cheerleaders were featured on the Today Show….watch the clip, it’s really great!! And — one of my Sacramento Kings dancer “sisters” is featured in this segment, along with many of my fellow Pro NBA and NFL dancer and cheerleader counterparts from all over the country! I also work with Laura Eilers at Going Pro Entertainment, who is the choreographer for the Science Cheerleaders. Great segment, very good look!!
The 2012 West Coast Pro Dance Convention in San Jose on Sunday, January 29th was a HUGE success!! The event drew a diverse group of dancers, from retired alumni of the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush to Washington Redskins, as well as current dance teams members of semi-pro ABA teams & AFL Arena Football, along with aspiring pro team dancers gearing up for the 2012 audition “season!”
We also welcomed a trio of Japanese Cheerleaders who have danced for professional American sports teams, as well as pro teams in Japan!
Here’s a shot of me and Keiko, who has an impressive resume including all-star teams from Asia to the U.S.A…
This year’s West Coast Convention staff was jam packed with a super talented roster of Pro Team Alumni with credentials in the NBA, NFL, AFL and more!! WATCH the highlight video for a taste of what went down!! Press play…
Thanks to all our sponsors – Shakeology, PPN Solution, Go Wild! Wear and of course the San Jose Athletic Club for being our venue host!
I’ll be at the 2012 Miami Pro Dance Convention coming right up on Sunday, February 19 … REGISTER NOW >> http://miamiprodance2012.eventbrite.com/