Tuesday, October 30, 2007
By Joel Luna
For two seasons, former Brazosport cheerleader Grace Salinas has been dancing up a storm as a San Antonio Silver Dancer. Salinas will be reaping the rewards of the San Antonio Spurs 2007 NBA championship by receiving a championship ring tonight.
The Spurs and their entire entourage will be honored with their championship hardware before taking on Portland.
“I wasn’t much of a fan until I started dancing for them,” Salinas said. “As a cheerleader, nobody thinks we are fans, but we are very much concerned with our team. I felt honored to be part of the Spurs.”
Her studies in business management have taken her to France, so she will not be in attendance to pick up her ring.
Salinas’ background in dancing, beginning at the age of 3, started her on a road of learning ballet, tap and jazz. When she reached high school, she became an Exporter cheerleader during her freshman and sophomore years.
After graduating early as a junior in 2003, she headed to the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she was a member of the Lady Road Runners dance team.
By 2005, Salinas was enrolled at Texas State University, and that season had an opportunity to dance with the Arena Football League Austin Wranglers organization.
After one season of indoor cheering for the Wranglers, she decided to step up her game and tried out for the Silver Dancers that same year.
“There were 200 girls for 16 spots,” Salinas said. “It was a four-day process with the first two days just routines. After they narrowed down the field to 35, the finals were at the Spectrum Athletic Club and the audition was open to the public.”
With parents, sisters, brothers and roommate in attendance Salinas made the cut.
“I had my blinders on because I’d never seen the Silver Dancers perform, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Salinas said. “But the fact that I was so confident because of so many years under my belt, I knew I could do it. I had a blast.”
Pretty soon, Salinas was an avid Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili fan. During the season, on Monday and Wednesday games only, half of the squad performed while the other eight could attend as fans.
After the Spurs fell short in her first year on the sideline, Salinas decided to come back for another year.
“I knew I had something to lose in my second year, but I had a year under my belt,” Salinas said. “They knew my capabilities.”
With 180 entrants, Salinas again survived to claim one of the final 16 spots.
“It’s exciting to see her out there dancing, and it makes one realize that it is one of your own kids living a dream,” dad Jimmy Salinas said. “Watching these kids try out is monumental and takes a lot of courage because there is a chance she might not have made it. I enjoyed watching her energy on the floor and her big smile.”
As it turned out, Grace Salinas was the second of Jimmy Salinas’ daughters to make it as a dancer for a professional sports organization. Sara Salinas was a member of the Houston Texans Cheerleaders for their first three seasons.
“We are (Houston) Rocket fans in our hearts, except when Grace was dancing for the Spurs,” Jimmy Salinas said.
Besides performing in front of thousands during the season, the Silver Dancers also made community appearances. Grace was selected as one of six Silver Dancers to travel to Hong Kong to promote the NBA after the 2007 season.
“Our choreographer based it on our dedication, appearances and dancing ability,” Grace said. “Marvin Williams of the Atlanta Hawks was with us, along with the Golden State mascot. We performed and took pictures with fans. It is amazing to see how popular the NBA is overseas. I enjoyed my time with the Spurs, and I realized it was time to move on. But I went out on a championship note.”