The All-Access Reception is a WIN-WIN-WIN situation — The Spirit Squad WINS, as lots of funds are raised, the crowd WINS, as they are served up a performance by the gorgeous Bruin Cheerleaders (as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine), and yours truly WINS, by collecting two prize drawings and a Silent Auction fantasy treat
That seals it: This is the year that the Bruins will WIN BIG. If the UCLA Spirit Squad All-Access Reception is any indication, this year will be all about winning. With the Basketball team’s Top-Rated incoming class, and with Football’s highly-regarded incoming new Staff, the optimism is high all around Westwood. And on a day when Clipper and Laker fans gave up hope on this season, it was all smiles on UCLA’s campus, as the annual Cheerleader fundraiser was held. In fact even Laker fans who are BRUINS FIRST had to crack a conflicted smile, knowing that Bruin Russell Westbrook and his 37 Points are the reason the Lakers are looking like they are doomed.
The unconflicted smiles at the Cheerleader event included the one worn by the Squad’s illustrious Executive Director, in her 14th year, Mollie Vehling. The incomparable Vehling continues to excel in an impossible job, and on Saturday, some of the fans who truly appreciate what she and her students do year in, year out, $howed their appreciation. The turnout at the event was the biggest ever, and so was the TAKE, probably. In terms of fundraising, UCLA this year has given Mollie some unexpected but greatly appreciated help: Bruin Footballer and Super Bowl Veteran James Washington. Washington is now spearheading the effort to fund the Spirit Squad, who does NOT get paid for by the Athletic Department. Washington’s energetic and charismatic style is CERTAIN to bring the squad more donors and more support than ever before.
Washington gave an impassioned speech, urging the supporters to dig deep. Jim Mora was also supposed to appear, but had to cancel for a last-minute family obligation that unfortunately could not be forseen. So Defensive Coordinator Lou Spanos filled in, making a very short speech thanking the Squad and its supporters for their efforts. Basketball Assistant Coach Scott Garson also made an appearance, helping the squad conduct the prize drawings… and he did a phenomenal job, by picking MY tickets TWICE. The vairous prizes up for grabs included Vegas Trips, Golf and Bowling outings, Ski Trips, Workouts, Cheerleader Babysitting, a Candy collection, a Board Game bonanza, Movie passes, and much, much more. The two packages I won were: 1) A Gift Certificate for World Famous Pink’s Hot Dogs (which happens to be my Dad’s favorite “restaurant”), and an autographed photo of acclaimed Actor Dustin Hoffman, and 2) a Gift Certificate for dinner at Trattoria Farfalla, along with a very nice ceramic Pasta Bowl, a package of spaghetti, 2 giant wine glasses, a package of Italian Cookies, a wine aerator, and Italian-themed cocktail napkins. How AWESOME is all of that???
Speaking of wine, the event had free Wine flowing from the bar, and gourmet appetizers pouring out of the kitchen, including mini-Chicken Wellington in a Chardonnay Cream Sauce, Zucchini Fritters with an Olive Tapenade and a dollop of Creme Fraiche, and a Beef with crispy onions in a brown gravy on mashed potatoes served in a martini glass. All three were exquisitely yummy. There were also two fancy salad-type dishes, which I didn’t get around to sampling. For dessert, there were brownies, fresh, chip-filled cookies, chocolate-dipped cookies, and fresh strawberries. Mmmmmmm.
But the tastiest treat of the day was the performance by the Cheerleaders, who did two routines, showing off some outgoing members, and featuring the newcomers. You’re in for a pleasant surprise when you see the newbies. Of course, if you’ve been following Mollie’s group for the last decade, you should NOT be surprised at all by the high caliber of student that keeps on filling out the beautiful ranks.
But personally, the coup de grace was the Silent Auction. There was more swag than ever this year, including a Hotel in Paris, France, a trip to Antigua, a trip to Phoenix, dinner and tour of a Fire Station, a signed John Wooden Basketball, a John Wooden-signed and framed Pyramid of Success, Yoga Sessions, Gymnastics classes, Joe and Josie Bruin appearances at your Tailgate Party, A Day in the Life of the Spirit Squad, (which allows you to tag along with them before and after a game), and many, many other items, too numerous to list (or remember). So WHAT DID I WIN, you ask? I now get to be a GUEST JUDGE at next year’s Dance Team Auditions!!!!!! Is that perfect, or what??? I’ve been to about a half-dozen of their auditions in the past, and always wished that I could be sitting behind the judges’ table, getting a better view, hearing the interviews, and possibly having a tiny say in who is chosen. I don’t know if all of that is REALLY included in this opportunity, but I will excitedly find out next Spring. And by the way, I don’t have any issue or complaint with the selections that the judges have made in any previous audition — They always seem to know what’s best for UCLA. Below is some proof of that.