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HOT JUDGE SUNDAY — In a dream come true, I was a Judge for the UCLA Dance Team Auditions on Sunday, and it was smokin’ hot!  Unfortunately, I am not allowed to post photos or discuss the process — However, I was NOT a Judge for the CHEER SQUAD Auditions, so you still get a taste of some of the cream-of-the-crop fresh newcomers that will grace the Bruin sidelines for the year to come

OH. MY. GOD.  Someone pinch me.  Am I dreaming, or did I just participate in the legendary selection process for the incomparable UCLA Spirit Squad?  After 40 years of admiring the beauty and grace of the Bruin Cheerleaders, and often wondering how in the hell the powers that be continuously attract and choose such stunning, talented, smart, and sweet students to represent my alma mater, I finally got to be a part of it.  And, I am just as impressed and amazed now as I ever was.

I’d love to tell you all the details and behind-the-scenes goings-on that lead to such dazzling results, but I signed a non-disclosure agreement that forbids me from sharing anything.  And since I was on the floor with the candidates, I was barred from taking any photos.  Not even the “Skittles Shot” of the whole group before the contest starts, where the rainbow of bright-colored outfits tantalizes your vision.   I’m sorry, but it was WORTH that sacrifice, just so I could participate, and have a voice in the vaunted selection process.  All I WILL say is that the Judges’ Panel is fully stocked with renowned experts, and that whole process is as professional and unbiased as you can possibly imagine.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the Squad ultimately selected is unparalleled anywhere in the whole Nation.  And the other thing I’d like to share is this:  I felt like this “job” making these rating decisions was the most important thing I have ever done, because of the long-lasting, ultra-serious ramifications.  Welcome to Judgment Day!

The process was extra-crucial this year, because the Spirit Squad loses several all-stars, who either graduated, or decided to “retire” in order to concentrate on study, or other endeavors, more intently.  The Dance Team (and I personally) will truly miss Kate, Lizzi, Nicolette, Maya, Tiana, and Natasha, and the Cheer Squad (and I) will never forget Kirsten, Sarah, Erica, Melissa, and Dana.  I can’t begin to tell you how sweet and charming they are.  Some of my best friends ever from the Squad are included in this departing group, and I sincerely hope they will stay in touch with me, and with the Program.

So your question now, is how did we do at replacing these exiting heroines?  The answer is an unequivocal “FANTASTIC.”  The five new Cheer Squad members are Tia, Areli, Josslyn, Danielle, and Paulina, all of whom are pictured (and labeled) below, so you can see for yourself that I am not sugar-coating anything.  The Dance Team adds 4 newcomers:  Carley, Kelly, Jane, and Julia.  You will have to wait for the Official web site to show you their photos, or until I get to see them at an upcoming event.  Some of the new girls are still finishing high school, so it may be a while.  Sorry.  Next year, just in case I get to Judge again, I will try to enlist one of my photographer friends to help me out.  Jack, Erkki, David T., are you listening?

If you are wondering why I got to be a Judge for this affair, it’s NOT because of my years of service to the organization, nor is it my keen eye for beauty and grace.  Actually, it was all about $$$$.  No, I didn’t bribe anyone — I just happened to make the highest bid in a Silent Auction at the Spirit Squad Fundraiser last year.  Now you might be thinking that it was just an honorary title, and my vote didn’t count.  I thought that too, but now I think my input carried equal weight with all the other Judges.  That being said, my “Top 9” were NOT the final 9 that actually won, but it was very close.  No one I disliked made it in, and I would say that only 2 girls that I really cared for failed to make it.  I hope both of them try again next year — I bet they would stand a great chance of making it then.

I don’t want to embarrass anyone so I won’t mention the name, but I met a very nice Mom and Grandma of an incoming Cheer Squad girl, and they were very, very nice.  If just a quarter of that pleasantness was passed down to the 3rd generation, the Cheer Squad will have another keeper (and that’s not even counting the student’s ample talent and attractiveness).

I also met some terrific people who were on the Judges’ Panel.  The two people sitting next to me were SO helpful and tolerant of my inexperience (and lack of qualifications)!  And so, so, so nice… and not surprisingly, SO easy on the eyes.  Not that it takes beauty to judge beauty, but in this case, I think it worked.  I also interacted with a few other Judges, all of whom were a pleasure to work with.  I wish I could thank them by name, but I have a feeling that might be frowned on.  But if you guys and gals are reading this, you know who you are.

I don’t want to leave out the STAFF.  Everyone was so wonderful and welcoming to me — It made it even more of an honor to be involved.  And a special thanks goes out to Mollie, for allowing my winning bid to stand.  She could have easily overridden my attempt, if she for some reason didn’t want someone like me to be on the inside like this.  I hope my attentiveness, and the seriousness I gave to every single ranking I made, make her have no regrets.

Finally, I wanna say hi and thanks to the former squadmembers whom I also saw at the event.  I miss you all so much already!

Below are 30 photos from the Cheer Squad Auditions, with the newcomers first, and the returnees after.


6 responses to “IT’S A RUSH TO JUDGE”

  1. Sparky Avatar

    Wow! What a way to spend a weekend! Talk about a dream come true! Congratulations on being part of the process. I’m sure you’re tastes, as well as the other judges, will provide another banner crop to continue the tradition of the most stunning dance team in the land. Looking forward to the things you will be able to share with us in the coming weeks.

  2. Rob C Avatar

    Geeeeez T-H you should have called me, I would volunteered to be the photographer of the DanceTeam tryouts!a
    What a lucky man indeed! and I see we have Katie look-alike (sorta) trying out for cheer…wow, the Cheer team has always been talented, but the overall “talent” has REALLY improved the last couple years…I am looking forward to them hot September afternoons at the Rose Bowl.

  3. JP Avatar

    Congrats th. u deserve to be on that panel cuz noone devotes more energy promoting the squad than you do. is the unofficial home base of our beloved Dance Team.

    A few non-audition related questions:

    1. Since it might be awhile before we see the new members, could u describe them? Perhaps name a former member who they most remind us of?

    2. Why did they go back to only having 9 members as opposed to 11?

    3. Are they bringing back the jumpsuits they wore for basketball season next year? They were a super big hit with everyone I know, even the national media took notice.

    (Really gonna miss Kate and Liz…now official hall of famers in my book)

    [T-H’s Note: Wow. That’s not easy. Don’t want to mis-describe anyone, or COMPARE them to an unfair standard. So without being too specific, there is a very young, bubbly, petite girl with short blonde hair, who is a tiny dynamo of energy and SO cute in looks and personality; There is another blonde, with longer straight hair and soft features and warm soulful eyes — Is “huggable” an acceptable and respectful descriptor?; One girl with blonde or light brown kinky long hair that was pulled back, who showed a sincerity/innocence that was engaging; and finally a brunette with long straight hair, sharp features, what looked like professional make-up, lovely, sleek body lines, and smooth moves on the floor. I hope that’s enough to satiate your curiosity for now. I don’t have ANY photos to refer to, so that’s just the best I could do from memory. As for the drop to 11, I am GUESSING that that was based mainly on the scores — 9 girls were separated mathematically from the rest. Perhaps with 20 Cheer Squad members in place, the arena floor might be better accommodated by 29 instead of 31, but the Judges’ scoring was the ultimate determining factor (to the best of my knowledge). As for the outfits, that I don’t know, but in the past, they haven’t usually abandoned popular outfits that quickly, so again I’m just GUESSING, but you will probably get to enjoy the jumpsuits once again.]

  4. JP Avatar

    Thanks so much for the insight. Can’t wait to meet the new members. They sound capable of carrying on with our Dance Team dynasty. It seems the baton has been passed on to Macall and Caroline. Just like Bret Hundley, I think this will be a breakout year for Macall.

  5. David T. Avatar

    Hey T-H,

    Yes, I could be convinced to photograph the 2014 UCLA Dance Team auditions. I’ve haven’t been to the New Pauley Pavilion and that might be a good chance to do so.

    And I have been to a few auditions recently, you can check them out here:

    Keep up the great work with the site.

    David T.

  6. UCLADave Avatar

    Based on the pics of the Cheer team you posted .. its looks like the new girls along with the returning girls could give the Dance Team a run for their money…. I think McKenna and Kayley are Dance Team gorgeous … and the newer girls look Dance Team gorgeous also…….. As for the Dance Team .. losing the superstars … Kate Lizzie Nicolette Natasha Tiana and Maya leaves a serious hole in our dance teamers …no offense to the returning members but im my humble opinion the girls that left were the strength and true beauty of last years squad … im hoping the new additions can pick up the baton and continue the tradition of beauty on the part of the UCLA Dance Team … my only complaint is that I wish the Dance Teamers went back to their white sweaters .. when I was in school .. that was the tradition … the white sweaters with the white skirts .. so flawlessly classic …. during the hot fall games the sweaters were short sleeved …. but at night the classic all white with UCLA in block letters across the chest and blue and gold stripes down the sleeve and around the base of the skirt …..