ARELI BIG SHOW — 11 days before their Vegas trip, UCLA Spirit hits the jackpot with a lavish party emceed by Areli, that strikes gold for the squad… and for me, as I win a raffle for a Basketball autographed by Steve Alford and the 2015 Basketball team, plus 4 Bruin shirts
I’ve heard of “losing your shirt” in Vegas, but how about winning 4 shirts? What a night in Westwood! On this night, the dress is Blue and Gold, but if you look hard, you’ll see green (not gold & white or black & blue).
The annual UCLA Spirit Squad All-Access Reception fundraiser was held in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday evening, and as always when Mollie is involved, it was a complete success. Not only was it fun for all, but most importantly, it was lucrative for the Squad. Funds raised at this event will go to travel, uniforms, and staff salaries, all necessities in the effort to remain the World’s Elite Cheerleaders.
The reception featured a Silent Auction and an Opportunity Drawing, with prizes that included a Football autographed by Coach Jim Mora, to tickets to a Bruin Basketball game, to a Hello Kitty Prize Package, to ride-alongs with Firemen or Sheriffs, to a Basketball signed by the 2015 Bruins (which I won!), to Babysitting by the Cheerleaders. I would have put ALL my raffle tickets in the babysitting jar, if only I had a baby.
Even if attendees weren’t interested in winning prizes (?!), there were lots of other things to do — like enjoying the free and free-flowing alcohol, which included Vodka Lemonade and Vodka Cranberry. I had one of each and can’t decide which one I liked better, cuz they were both so delicious. Speaking of delicious, gourmet hors d’oeuvres were served all evening, including flatbread (pizza), sliders, skewers with either teriyaki chicken, or beef, of even creamy, sumptuos shrimp. There was also plenty of melon if you wanted a palate cleanser. Finally, there was dessert: Lemon bars, and 7-layer chocolate/nut brownie-like squares.
I loved the prizes, I loved the booze, I loved the savory treats, and I loved the sweets… but none of that was the highlight of the night. If you know me at all, you should be able to figure this out: My favorite part of the night is socializing with fellow Bruins, Bruin fanatics, and especially, Bruin cheerleaders.
Baseball Coach John Savage was in the house, along with 3 of his players; Members of the National Champion Water Polo team came to show their support; Basketball VP Tyus Edney was present, accompanied by players Norman Powell, Tony Parker, Isaac Hamilton, David Brown, and Nick Kazemi; From the Football team, we were graced with Jerry Neuheisal, Devin Lucien, Jordan Payton, Josh Rosen, Carl Hulick, and Cameron Judge. I didn’t get a chance to converse with any of these athletes, but I DID get to chat with some of the Cheerleaders. Every single one of them was as nice as I could ever hope, and my recent assertions about their intelligence and work-ethic were confirmed, as I heard stories of double-majors, and impending grad school.
Special thanks to Jane and Areli, who paused from their busy agendas to make me feel welcome, and double-thanks to Courtney, who was especially candid and sincere, and finally triple-thanks to current Sports Illustrated National Cheerleader of the Week McKenna, with whom I spoke for more time than I have in the last three years combined. So sweet — I sure hope she comes back for a 4th year.
But let me reiterate — EVERY girl was nice to me, and warm, and appreciative of my participation in the event. No one avoided eye contact, or pretended like they didn’t know me. Everyone was awesome. I want to make sure that my mentioning of 4 specific girls is in NO WAY an indictment of the ones I didn’t mention. It’s just that those were the 4 that I was lucky enough to interact with for extended, CHERISHED moments.
Now, let’s talk about the photos — and lack of photos — that I am posting here. There was NO performance at this event. There was no mass group pose. There were no prize-basket presentations like in past years. So, it was not easy to get nice photos. As you probably already know about me, I HATE paparazzi, and I don’t want to be like them. I don’t holler at girls and ask/tell/demand them to pose for my camera. And I don’t like taking photos of them when they aren’t aware that they are being photographed. i do like candid shots, but only in situations where they are “ON,” knowing that they are surrounded by fans with cameras. This event was NOT that situation.
So I apologize for “excluding” so many of the girls from this photo-array. It’s just that I didn’t have good opportunities to take flattering shots of everyone. Hopefully, I’ll get another chance to bring you a more comprehensive collection before this group of girls graduates or moves on. Meanwhile, here are 24 shots from this thoroughly enjoyable affair.