Thursday, August 16, 2007
By Angel N. Ross
Locals might see a familiar face when the Cleveland Cavaliers tip off at their first home game Aug. 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Stephanie Shepherd, a 2007 Ontario High School graduate, will take the floor as a dancer for the Cavs 2007-08 season and follow one of her goals of being on the Cavalier Girls dance team.
Dancing since she was just 3-years-old, Shepherd, now 17, competed against hundreds of women from throughout Ohio, Buffalo, New York and Pittsburgh to earn one of the coveted spots.
She made the team on her first try after strenuous dancing, interviewing and photos taken in her swimsuit during a three week process.
"I got a call at 6:30am (from the coach) saying I made it," Shepherd said. "I stayed up with my friend the whole night."
Eighteen women altogether, ages 17 through 26 were selected and must adhere to a flexible practice schedule, attend most of the home basketball games and various appearances and promotions throughout the season. Those who are 17 years old must turn 18 by Nov. 1.
In addition to attending a Junior Cavalier Girls Dance Clinic in April, Shepherd also attended a couple of pre-audition workshops in June where she learned new choreography and what to expect at the Cavalier Girls audition.
Along with her part-time job as a Cavalier Girl, Shepherd will also begin her freshman year at Kent State University, majoring in dance. She will commute between Cleveland and Kent to make sure she fulfills her duties as a dancer.
Shepherd said she just came back from shooting the popular Cavalier Girls swimsuit calendar and described it as "fun and bonding."
Along with having more than 20 Cavalier Girls costumes and shoes, other perks include makeovers with hair, makeup and teeth bleaching, gym memberships, athletic trainers and nutritionists to help stay in shape.
"I'm really proud to know that I'm on the same level as the girls on the team," she said. "It's a challenge but I'm excited for the season."
Shepherd said she also realizes the amazing networking opportunities by being exposed to the members and organization of a professional basketball team.
"This is a huge door (opening) to the dance world and to the business," she said. "I know a lot of the other dancers go on (to other things).
"I have Melanie's (Murphy -- Miss Ohio 2006) costume and she's going places," Shepherd said.
"Maybe it will rub off."