UCLA Spirit Squad Try-outs: An awesome display of talent, beauty, and grace that asks the Judges to do the impossible.
No, that’s not a typo. That’s One thousand, seven hundred and seventy-seven photos. That’s what it took — in 5 hours — to TRY to capture some of the elegance and energy that blew the roof off of Pauley Pavilion on Sunday. That’s a new record, and it was worth it.
For those of you who didn’t just scroll down to the photos, and to those of you who came back AFTER looking at the photos to read this, we have lots to say about the UCLA Spirit Squad Auditions that took place on campus yesterday. First of all, thanks to “UCLA XTC” for alerting us to the event. Second of all, all our respect and thanks go out to Mollie, who is The Director of the Spirit Program. As with everything that she does, the Auditions were well-organized, run efficiently, and done with an incredibly PROFESSIONAL touch. We thought that a handful of Coaches and random students would be the Judges, with Mollie holding the Final Vote.
We were WAY off on this one. There was an entire panel of Professionals, with seriously impressive resumes, doing the judging. We aren’t going to mention any names, since there was a Confidentiality Agreement being signed. We think that was to protect the voting procedure and anything that the Girls might say during the interview process (during which the small contingent of VERY SMART fans were asked to vacate, for privacy), so we will tell you that the Woman who RAN the Laker Girls for all the years that we had Season Tickets, was on the panel (HINT: NOT Paula Abdul, but the other one whose name the P.A. Announcer always used to say). And ALL the Judges had qualifications like that. It’s a good thing, because WE sure couldn’t separate the “great dancers” from the good ones.
And as far as appearance, you will be happy to hear that regardless of who ultimately gets (got?) selected, the “attractiveness level” is going to stay top-notch, continuing to keep Oregon in Second Place in the Pac-10.
As far as talent, it’s hard to tell, especially while looking through a camera viewfinder, but all we can say is that Ryan is a Stud. Let us be clear that we have NO IDEA who made the cut and who didn’t, and by the way, last year’s squadmembers have NO GUARANTEES of getting selected THIS year. Just like Football Scholarships, a position on this Squad is for one year only. That being said, Ryan was just so strong, holding up newcomers with one hand, not to mention his spirit level, that all we can say is that we “hope” he makes it. We have to be careful here, because we are NOT privy to all the factors that go into the evaluations, and we didn’t hear the interviews. The point is, we have NO DESIRE to inadvertantly “question” the decisions made by Mollie’s panel. After the last few years, we have complete and total faith in their decision-making, especially when you consider how down-to-earth the Girls were (on top of the obvious factors). This was the first audition we’ve been to, and seriously: We thought that Mollie just picked people by herself! But we still give her credit for designing the process that has produced the finest Squad in the Country, bar none.
One of the non-Cheer highlights of the Event was when Rick Neuheisel paid a surprise visit. He came over during a score-tallying break, and talked to us and some Judges, about Golf, and Rose Bowls. He showed total appreciation for all the hard work that Mollie and her troops put forth, and acknowledged the importance of Spirit. Yeah, yeah, we know: He always says the right things. Well, fine, but that’s better than saying the wrong thing, or saying nothing at all. He was just so cool, so personable, and so approachable, that we felt comfortable to chime into his “conversation,” without feeling pushy. And he instantly included us in the group. SO COOL!! Someone asked him if he was gonna stick around and Judge, but he said no way, that he had his own students that were keeping him very busy (but that otherwise, he would have loved to!).
Another highlight of the Evening was when two 2006-7 Dance Team Members came up to us, introduced themselves, and were as Sweet as could be. They are both still involved with UCLA and the Spirit Squad, and one of them even teaches a UCLA Dance Class — NICE GIG right out of College, huh? But the coolest thing in the World was that they were SO NICE, and they expalined to us how the auditions work. We were in shock that the Returnees have to audition, and that they often miss the cut. We can’t imagine how sad that would be, and we are glad that we didn’t have to see anyone get that difficult news.
So we’ll just cross our fingers, while you cross yours (you guys know who you are), and let’s all hope that our Favorites come back to grace these pages for another school year. Meanwhile, here are THE FIRST (and best) 24 shots from the Mother of all Auditions. Don’t forget, they all have mouse-over hidden captions. Also, you CAN click the pics to enlarge them. The lighting in Pauley sucks, and we weren’t allowed close to the action, so when you zoom in, they’ll be a little grainy, but they are WAY better than the literally 1400 photos that came out un-usably blurry. You know how long it takes to weed through 1400 blurry, headache-inducing photos? Hey Mollie — Can you move this Event outdoors next year, weather permitting, or let me stand on the floor? After all, I’m just trying to make the Squad look as good as possible.
If I were her, I’d tell me: “Get a better camera, a steadier hand, and stop having delusions of grandeur.”
We hope you enjoy “the best we could do,” and you can bet that there will be MORE, coming soon.
[Final note: Did you ever notice that the Squad doesn't wear Jewelry, Colored Nail Polish, Pig Tails or Pony Tails? How could WE never notice about the Pig Tails? We love hair. We've always liked Pig Tails, too, but it's (understandably) not the image that they care to project. By the way, anyone who just read all of this text prior to checking out the pictorial, thanks -- you have an amazing ability to delay self-gratification. And now, without further bull... ]