There are things in life, which we achieve and feel proud of and there are those things that leave a mark and in some way shape our destiny. I guess with Kobe Bryant retiring from basketball after 20 years, I felt it was a good time to share my story. I had the fortune of dancing for the The Los Angeles Lakers basketball team for 2 years, beside the Black Mamba when he first joined the team at 19 and was simply referred to as Kobe. As a NBA Cheerleader, my time as a “Laker Girl” was an incredible experience and an accomplishment, which I am very proud of. To this day, people still ask me about my time as a Laker Girl and what goes on behind scenes with the purple and gold.
As a childhood Laker fan, becoming a Laker Girl was a dream come true. My father was a season ticket holder and I would attend the games with him and cheer on the team from the stands, watching such legendary players as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabar. As a young budding dancer, I had my eye on the pretty girls in purple and gold who performed at quarter breaks including the former Laker Girl and choreographer, Paula Abdul.
These were some of my fondest memories with my father, who has since, passed on. You can imagine how exciting it was for both of us when I eventually made it courtside along our favorite team to become a Laker Girl.
Becoming a Laker Girl was not an easy task. Much like Kobe Bryant’s drive, I was obsessed with dance. I spent years and years honing my craft; training and studying dance techniques preparing myself to one day perform in front of thousands of people on the court. With years of dedication and professional training in ballet, jazz, and hip-hop I was equipped and ready to make my mark in the world of professional cheerleading.
As a pro cheerleader, there is an undeniable network in place that spans from coast to coast. From NFL to NBA cheer there are over 1 million women who have danced on a court or football field representing your favorite teams. From the Laker Girls to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the friendships are the cornerstone of this network and live on throughout the years. Like professional sports, these women take their jobs very seriously and train for many years to be at the top of their craft. Living an active and healthy lifestyle is a must!
For many of the girls cheering is just a part time job, however, the responsibility is full time, havingto represent the team and organization at appearances and games throughout the year. Let’s face it, this is a job that has it’s perks and benefits, like tickets to the games and international travel. I was in college the first year I started cheering for the Lakers and had to really manage my time. Being in the classroom by day and performing on the court at night was hectic. I was very busy with promotional appearances, rehearsals, photo shoots and games. In addition, I had lots of class work and studying, there was never a dull moment.
It’s truly an amazing experience to do what you love and get paid for it. Dancing for the Lakers did not seem like work. Performing in front of the fans was a true joy and getting to cheer on my favorite team with the best seats in the house was a gift. It’s hard to sum up in words what it’s like to be courtside watching some of the biggest stars in basketball play, like Kobe Bryant. I remember when Kobe just started playing for the Lakers and I knew then he had something special. Later to become one of the greatest players of all time!
Although there were many perks, one may ask, what is the life span of a professional cheerleader and what comes next? Unlike other professional sports, professional cheerleading has a shorter life span. Many dancers spend most of their lives training to make it to the big leagues, but unfortunately they don’t have the same career span as the players they cheer for, even though they have trained in dance for just as long. On average most girls only cheer for a few years. This is partially due to the fact that cheerleaders are not paid much and most teams require the girls to audition each year, with a new crop of hopefuls coming up behind them.
So what comes next? What does an ex-NBA or NFL cheerleader do after their game days are over? Well, there are many career opportunities and career paths moving forward. In fact, some girls leverage their celebrity to do a lot of good in the world, by giving back to the younger generation and charitable causes. Some have gone on to be professional dancers, choreographers, teachers, broadcasters, sales executives and even business owners.
Having danced and done numerous promotional appearances led to my natural evolution of dancing professionally in the TV & Film industry, then incorporating my skills into my own brand enterprise “The American Spokesmodel”. Since then, I have taken on my newest venture as the founder and CEO of www.tradeshowcasting.com an on-line job marketplace for live talent. It has always been my passion to help others achieve their goals and find work. By leveraging the power of the Internet to allow talent to access and apply for job opportunities on-line has changed the game.
It’s exciting to grow and evolve professionally and reflect on the journey, having cheered besides some of the greatest dancers and players in the world. Watching Kobe retire is a reminder of some
great times in Laker history and that hard work pays off, as your legacy is what people will remember. In the end it’s not how many games you won or how much money you made, but your contribution and how you made people feel. I am honored to have been a Los Angeles Laker Girl, part of the Laker Organization and even greater community of professional cheerleaders. I hope there are some young girls and boys out there with a wish and dream to one day be on the court too. I would tell them to keep on working hard, keep on believing because one day you may look up and find that all of your dreams have come true!