TEARING UP AND CHEERING UP

Crying in my Cheer — The UCLA Dance Team loses 3 sweet girls due to time constraints and conflicts (breaking my heart), but gets 9 beautiful returnees, and 2 fine additions, while the Cheer Squad continues to be Top Tier as well

UCLA Spirit Audition Week can be an emotional rollercoaster.  That coaster started for me 364 days ago, when I met a beautiful girl at last year’s audition, who was planning on transferring to UCLA and trying out for the Dance Team.  It had always been her dream to make the team, and she came that day just to acclimate to the process, and meet Mollie (the Executive Director of the Spirit Squad).  We became close friends, and I shared her journey as she did great at OCC, as well as at her job, where she got promoted and saw her occupational dreams come true as well.  Then earlier this month, she actually got accepted to UCLA, and it was one of the most exciting, happiest moments that I can remember.  All that was left, was to make the Dance Team.

Then two days ago, I got the heartbreaking news that she wouldn’t be able to audition, as her work demands precluded her from being able to dedicate enough time to the Dance Team.  After almost a year, all our shared hopes and dreams were dashed to dust.  I wanted SO BADLY for my dear friend to be under Mollie’s tutelage as a proud member of the Dance Team.  I was devastated that the decision had to be made.  I understood, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.

Well, at least I still had Savannah…

Savannah has been on the Dance Team for a few years, and NO ONE on the squad has been nicer to me during that time.  A few years ago, Katie was the first one to be super-nice to me.  Nikki took the torch from Katie, and Savannah took it from Nikki.  So even though my dear friend decided not to try out, there was always the consolation that I could turn to Savannah for that unbelievable sweetness… until I found out on Sunday that Savannah was not returning, also due to time  demands, from other UCLA schooling factors.  And Savannah wasn’t the only one:  Chelsea also was unable to continue, due to class scheduling conflicts.  It is difficult to see the girls graduate and move on — It is even MORE difficult when you grow close to them, and then, knowing that they have eligibility left, they still leave.  I wish them all the best — I just wish they could clone themselves, and stay, while their clones attend to their other business.

But, as always during Mollie’s tenure, the Dance Team will survive these losses.  Nine girls return (Kate, Lizzi, Michelle, Maya, Nicolette, Caroline, Natasha, Riana, and Tiana) and at least 8 of them have shown me undeserved kindness and respect during their times here.  Who will become my “favorite?”  I don’t know, but no matter what, you are all in good shape as fans of the Team.  They all look fantastic, and the two new additions — Juliet and MaCall — fit right in.  I don’t know how “nice” they are yet, but Mollie and her selection committee almost always weed out the divas, and adorn the squad with real sweethearts, so I’m not worried.  As far as beauty and talent, they’ve already passed that test, by wowing the crowd — and the judges — and me, on Sunday.

The Cheer Squad returns most of my favorites, as Kirsten, Sarah, Erica, Kelly, Paula, and Amanda return.  I believe Kali had other obligations, and Kayla graduated, if I understood correctly(?).  There are some new faces, as well as Dana, who returns from the year before last.  Bottom line is that the Cheer Squad will also make Bruin fans proud this season.

If you’d like to actually meet many of these lovely girls in person, you can come to the Spirit Reception on May 19th.  Please check out their website for details, and my archives from last May for a review of last year’s event.  It is a fun-packed afternoon chock full of Prizes, Food, and presentations from Bruin Coaches.  Most importantly, it is the best way to SUPPORT the World’s Best Spirit Squad.

I took over 1000 photos at the Auditions on Sunday.  Here are 35 that mostly feature some of the girls who made it.  I have another 100+ shots that I will share soon, that include a lot of the girls who just barely missed the cut.  Considering the competition, there is no shame in not getting selected onto the team.  One of the judges said that this year’s crop was the BEST in his 30 years of judging this competition.

One last note:  Special thanks go out to the MOMS who were in the crowd, and made me feel so good about what I do.  Their unsolicited praise warmed my heart, dried up the tears, and gave me the encouragement that I needed to keep writing (and shooting), even though my Dream Cheerleader will not be here for me to feature.

Don’t forget to click on the pics to enlarge them (especially the horizontal ones).

3 Responses to “TEARING UP AND CHEERING UP”

  1. JP Says:

    T-H, you are the best! Thanks for the coverage.

    Best wishes to Savannah and Chelsea.

    My faves are Kate and Lizzie, also Michelle and Nicolette…glad they’re back.

    And I’m very excited about MaCall…I can sense a future Hall of Famer! From Whitney, Chelsea, Kylene, Katie, Elise and Brianna, the torch continues to be passed on one of UCLA’s BEST dynasties.

  2. UCLADal Says:

    Here’s to the ladies celebrating many a Bruin touchdown at the Rose Bowl! GO BRUINS!

  3. Frank Says:

    I think more pictures of Savannah are appropriate under the circumstances.

    T-H’s Note: I agree. After more audition pics I will re-visit Savannah. Don’t hesitate to remind me.