Saturday, July 28, 2007

Schaumburg Flyers Give More Than Baseball in a Day at the Ol' Ballpark 

Posted by James at 11:32 AM ET

By Ryan Lowry

The idea behind minor league, amateur and independent baseball stadiums is to provide an entertaining atmosphere, geared toward a family environment.

Over in the western suburb of Schaumburg, Alexian Field provides just that as home for the Northern League’s Schaumburg Flyers.

Promotion nights and fireworks, giveaways and contests, and up-close and personal interaction with the team are part of what makes the Flyers a catch.

Scahumbuerg Flyers Dance Team

But the team also has another unique feature — the Flyers Dancers.

The Chicago Bulls have the Luvabulls, the Chicago Rush have the SoBe Adrenaline Rush Dancers (arena football) and there are the Chicago Shamrox Dancers (Lacrosse).

But dancers at a baseball game?

“It’s true,” said Melissa Higham, who lives in Carol Stream and is a graduate of Downers Grove South. “When I found out there was a dance team I thought that was pretty interesting. And I’m such a huge baseball fan. So it’s wonderful to dance and to be part of a baseball team. I was thrilled to make it.”

“It’s funny when I tell people who I dance for,” said Pamela Seger, a Villa Park resident, 2004 graduate of Willowbrook and Elmhurst College student. “People say, ‘A baseball team? I didn’t know they had dancers at a baseball game.’ It’s fun and the crowd really gets into it.”

The Flyers Dancers make their appearance for every Friday and Saturday home game.

The team consists of 13 members and tryouts are held in April. They practice on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights.

A typical night for them starts when they get to the ballpark about an hour-and-a-half before the first pitch.

Scahumbuerg Flyers Dance Team

They take the field for an opening routine to get the fans revved up, do a featured dance in the third inning and perform the crowd-favorite YMCA on top of the dugouts in the seventh inning.

“Everyone loves when we do YMCA,” first-year dancer Higham said. “The families love it and the kids love it.”

If Schaumburg wins, the Flyers Dancers close the night with a routine and also help throw softballs and Frisbees during the game.

“It’s been a great experience and a lot of fun,” Seger, who is in her second year on the team. “You really don’t feel like you’re in front of that many people. You’re on the field and the field is so big. It’s very good and fun to get the crowd into it.”

The dancers took notice on July, when they performed before a franchise record vcrowd of 8,459. The Flyers are third in the Northern League standings for average attendance (4,349 as of July 9), giving the dance team a large audience each time out.

“It’s great to see all the people come out,” Higham said. “I love it when there’s that much support for the Flyers.”

And like the ball players on the field who have young, aspiring kids in the stands watching their every move, Higham knows it’s the same for them.

“The parents are wonderful and the kids, or little girls, we are people they look up to,” she said. “We are like role models to them.”

There were four new girls added to the team this year. One of them is another Villa Park resident, Autumn Jones, who danced with Seger at Willowbrook.

“It was cool to see someone else from Villa Park at the tryouts,” Seger said.

There isn’t much turnover each season and both Higham and Seger are hoping to continue their stay.

Scahumbuerg Flyers Dance Team

“It’s wonderful to be back out in front of a crowd,” said Higham, who hadn’t danced since performing with Northern Illinois University’s Silverettes her freshman year in college. “I just never gave up. I am extremely appreciative to have this opportunity and it’s great to know all the hard work paid off. This is very special to me.”

“It’s a really good time,” Seger said. “It’s pretty relaxing and laid back. It’s a fun way to spend a weekend night.”

Online home of the Schaumburg Flyers Dance Team here.

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