Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Manhattan Beach Resident Puts Spirit in Clippers Games 

Posted by James at 1:04 PM ET

By Muhammed El-Hasan
The Daily Breeze

The 29-year-old sales representative for a semiconductor parts distributor is part of the 18-member Spirit Dance Team for the L.A. pro basketball team.

The Manhattan Beach resident twists and turns, her body sliding smoothly to one side, then the other.

She spins, drops to the ground and leaps back up - as thousands of people watch.

Rachel is a member of the Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dance Team.

Rachel, LA Clippers

This is the first season on the Clippers dance team for Rachel, 29, who did not divulge her last name to comply with team policy for the performers.

Rachel's grace and bubbly personality belie her other occupation as a sales representative for a distributor of semiconductor parts in the South Bay and other parts of Los Angeles.

Rachel earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from UC San Diego. She spent four years interning and later working at Hewlett-Packard Co., where she designed the electronics for photo printers.

Then she went into technical sales.

Rachel started her performance career while in elementary school. She participated in gymnastics competitions. In junior high, she began cheerleading and in high school, Rachel was on the short flags team.

At UC San Diego, she was a member of the college dance team, which performed at basketball games and competed nationwide.
Rachel, Charger Girl
While still in college, Rachel made it onto the San Diego Chargers dance team, the Charger Girls. She stayed with the Chargers for five seasons, before moving with her sales job to the South Bay.

What does your dance job entail?

We're game-day entertainment. Before games, we greet fans at the door and take pictures with them. Some of us talk to fans in the suites. We help with special promotions during the game like voting for the All-Star Game. There are 18 members, and at every game you see 14 of us. We rotate. We do outside promotions with charities. We volunteer and we do a lot of work with our sponsors.

What's your main challenge on the job?

The balance between my full-time (sales) career and rehearsals. We rehearse eight hours a week, and we arrive at a game day two and a half hours prior.

Are the dance routines hard?

It's intricate. We do our part as professional dancers. We learn it in one rehearsal and we've got to know it like the back of our hand at the next rehearsal. We're not even half through the season and we've learned about 15 routines.

What kind of routines do you perform?

We have a variety of choreography. Jazz, hip-hop and novelty, like a song from "Footloose" or "Hairspray," kind of theatrical. We perform anywhere from four to six routines in a game.

Which dance style is your favorite?

I like the jazz because I feel more comfortable, and I like the hip-hop because it's more fun.

What do you get out of this job?

We bond so well. We spend so much time together as a team, we're pretty much automatic sisters. It's a lot of fun.

Do you get to interact with the players?

We cheer for them and say good luck. But we don't fraternize with them outside of games. It's not allowed.

What's the best part of your job?

The best part is walking off the court and knowing you nailed a routine.

And the worst part?

When the Clippers lose a game. There's really nothing bad about the job, but it definitely is a bummer when they lose.

What's the age range of your dance team members?

The age range is 18-29. I'm the oldest person on the team.

Do stereotypes about cheerleaders bother you?

It does. There is that stereotype with cheerleaders, and we like to destroy that. We really are intelligent and hardworking. There's teachers on the team, a mother.

Any other misconceptions?

We make $75 a game. Some people think we make $50,000.
Rachel, LA Clippers
Why do they think that?

Look at how much the players make.

How long do you plan to continue doing this?

My prediction is that the season will go by so fast that I'll want to do it again.


I do it because I want to keep dancing. I want to keep performing. And what better way to enjoy a game than with our favorite team? And that's what drove me to get on the team. What drives me to stay on the team is definitely the friendships.

If you want to stay on the team for a second season, would you have to audition again?

You have to audition every year. So it's not guaranteed.

What was your most embarrassing moment with the Clippers?

We came out to line up for the national anthem. The players were putting in their last practice shots, and the ball hits me in the head. Luckily there were so many things going on, I don't think anyone noticed.

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