Monday, April 30, 2007

Welcome Back Lori 

Posted by Sasha at 10:22 PM ET

By Farnoush Ansari
April 25, 2007

It’s Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. and while most people are still asleep, Raiderette finalists are just beginning their day. More than 120 women began preparations for the last stage of Raiderette auditions - the finals. Returning veteran Raiderette Lori was one of the finalists who hoped to keep her spot as one of Football’s Fabulous Females.

Lori takes her position on the Raiderettes very seriously but she has a very busy life outside of the squad. “I have a piano studio in Modesto with about 37 kids that I teach privately every week. I play piano for the Modesto Symphony. I also coach gymnastic which is something I have done all my life,” Lori said.

After college and at the end of her professional gymnastic career, Lori felt that professional cheerleading seemed to be the next step. “I graduated college and realized I wasn’t performing athletically at a high level so I thought with my experience in gymnastics, dancing, and cheering growing up, that professional cheerleading might be a good route,” Lori recalled.

She was right. This four-year veteran hasn’t only been making the squad because of her great looks; it’s been her hard work and commitment that have gotten her here. “I start preparing two to three months before tryouts. I start by working out. I go non-stop until I walk onto the stage. I feel like if I do everything possible before tryouts and if something were to happen and I don’t make it, I know it’s not because I didn’t prepare. I just need to be myself and hopefully it will pay off in the end,” Lori said.

For the last three years, the month of April has meant two things to Lori, Raiderette auditions and the beginning of another great year. She continues to come back because performing is a true passion of hers, and she enjoys challenging herself year after year. “I am a performer at heart. I definitely love the games. I really feel it when I’m out there. I don’t get nervous at the games. I am just so excited and happy but never nervous. I enjoy working hard to achieve a goal,” Lori said.

Lori’s day started earlier than most of the candidates at final auditions. “I woke up at 3:00 a.m. today. I had my dad wake me up this morning from the east coast. He does that for me before every game during the season. It’s tryouts, so it takes me at least two hours to get ready, but I don’t care, for tryouts I will get up at any time. It’s dedication,” Lori said

You would think that this would come easy to a woman who had professional football cheer experience before starting her three-year stretch with the Raiderettes; in fact she believes the pressure intensifies over the years. Lori says, “Parts of the audition process become second nature, as far as knowing what to expect. But it never gets easier because you’re fighting for your spot every year. Especially if you’ve been on the squad for several years, you begin thinking ‘maybe they want a whole new fresh look.’ I think it is more nerve wracking each year.”

Lori’s audition began just after 9:00 a.m., when her #16 was called. She quickly stood in line and waited to be called in by the judges. She took the stage and waited for her interview to begin. She was asked several questions about herself, experiences in her life, and what she does career-wise. After answering the judge’s questions with poise and confidence, she exited the room.

“I’m not very good at assessing myself afterwards because I tend to be very negative but I thought I did fine today. I enjoy talking to the judges, I even made them laugh. They seem like they had a good time and I always want them to feel at ease when they’re talking to me. I think I was able to do that today,” Lori says about her interview.

After the interview, Lori had no time to sit and relax, she had to begin preparing for the dance portion of the auditions. “I did the dance 50 times last night and 10 times this morning. I am going to stretch a lot,” Lori said. “I am going trust my muscle memory from doing it so many times. Of course, I am going to perform and give a 110 percent. I want the sequence to happen naturally. Hopefully my spirit will come out when I’m dancing.”

While the judges were breaking for lunch, Lori continued to practice the dance routine as well as envision her performance. At 2:00 p.m., Lori’s number was called once again and she reported to the judging room. After a flawless performance to Hilary Duff’s new hit song, With Love, Lori was able to relax as her audition had finally come to an end.

The dance competition of the audition is where the true Raiderettes shine and that is exactly what Lori did. “I never like my dance section. My number one goal is to not mess up and not forget any of the moves. When I am doing it at rehearsal I feel really confident and ready to perform. I think it went well but you do over-analyze yourself a lot. I did a good job and I didn’t mess up, so that is the most I can ask for,” Lori said.

You may think that after the dance portion is over, the candidates would have the opportunity to relax, but that is when Lori actually began to feel the real pressure. “It is really getting to me. My stomach hurts and I tried to go eat because I was hungry all day but when I got food I couldn’t eat it. I am just really nervous and we are all feeling it. I don’t think we would be feeling this way if we didn’t care or really want it,” Lori expressed.

After all of the finalists finished their dance routines and the judges tallied up their votes, Raiderette Director Karen Kovac came out with the final list. At 6:00 p.m., Lori’s number was called and she was informed that she would be starting her fourth year as one of Football’s Fabulous Females. Lori said, “I am just really relieved. You have so much adrenaline running the whole tryout process and when you finally hear your number it’s surreal. I love seeing the new rookies. I feel like the Raiders slogan ‘Commitment to Excellence’ is what keeps me coming back...the idea of being the best you can be at something. This is me and this is what I do, dancing and performing and I hope to continue to do this as long as I can.”

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