Saturday, January 19, 2008

Luvabulls Blog: Catherine 

Posted by Sasha at 6:33 PM ET

Catherine finds inspiration from fellow Luvabulls
Chicago Bulls
Jan 9, 2008

Catherine of the Chicago Luvabulls stops by to recall waiting for her turn to make the squad, being pushed outside her comfort zone, and coming back from an injury that had her on crutches.

I am in my second season as a Chicago Luvabull and being on this team continues to be an amazing experience. I still remember the first time I even thought about being a Luvabull. It was five years ago and I had just moved to Chicago for college. I am not from the city, but I had grown up a Bulls fan. I had always known about the Luvabulls but I never thought I would be in the position to be one. It hit me when I was starting my freshman year at Loyola University, maybe I could try out for the team.

I had been dancing since I was four and thought I should at least give it a shot. I looked into it and found that you have to be 21 to be on the team. I decided to put that dream on hold and tried out for Loyola’s dance team. I spent three years on the Loyola Dance team and after my junior year (and turning 21) I decided to tryout. In all reality I never thought I’d make the team. I just figured it would be a good experience and help me to prepare for the following year’s tryout. Then the craziest thing happened. I made the first cut, then the second and was asked to attend the mini-camp. Finally, my number was called on the last day. I had made the team and could call myself a Luvabull.

The Luvabulls are unlike any other team I have ever been on before. It has been far more challenging and rewarding than anything I could have imagined. I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone more times than I can count, and am constantly challenged with new choreography and new styles of dance. Another amazing aspect of being on this team is that you are pushed to become not only a better dancer but to become a better person. I'm sure that is the last thing people think happens on a NBA dance team. That is the real beauty of our team.

Kim, our choreographer, has been with the Luvabulls for many years now and has held the role of both a dancer and choreographer. She has the ability to walk through the doors at practice and know in about 15 seconds what kind of night it is going to be. She knows when to push us, when we need a break, and when we need to talk. I remember the first time she gave us a "pep-talk" and she told us how much we were all going to learn and grow not just as dancers but as people during our time on the team. I didn't really believe her then, but during my time on the team I have come to learn just how right she was. The level of composure and responsibility necessary to be part of this team is unreal. I have learned how to really push myself beyond what I ever thought possible.

Last year I was the "baby" of the team. I had just turned 21 before auditions and was headed into my senior year of college. I was nervous about keeping up with all of my courses, the commitments I had made to different organizations, my job, and then adding Luvabulls on top of it all. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it work but I figured I had juggled a lot before so why shouldn’t I be able to handle this?

I quickly realized my social life was going to be the first thing to go. I recruited my roommates to give me play-by-plays of what I missed out on. Soon, I realized it wasn't just my social life that was going to suffer; balancing everything was going to be a lot harder than I thought. This wasn't anything like being part of Loyola’s dance team. It didn't matter that I was in mid-terms or finals. This was my job and I had signed up for it. I would usually get home from practice around 11 p.m. (on good nights) then stay up until at least two or three in the morning studying and I started it all over again in the morning.

I always thought I had excellent time management skills, I was used to scheduling everything during my day, but this team pushed me to become better at balancing. Especially during the busy months of the season when there are weeks were it feels like you have a Luvabulls commitment almost every night.

It seemed almost impossible to keep up the pace sometimes, but somehow we all just kept going. Suddenly, I really realized how amazing all of the women around me were. Yes, I was a student and working hard at school, but I was surrounded by nurses, lawyers, therapists, teachers, and business women. If they could handle the pressure from their jobs and the Luvabulls, then I could too. As cheesy as it may sound, they became a constant source of inspiration for me.

One of the biggest struggles I have faced on the team outside of trying to balance the demanding schedule was being injured. I have been dancing since I was four, I was a gymnast for 10 years and I played soccer for over 10 years and I have never had an injury bench me for more than a week. I learned to always work through the pain, but this time I couldn't.

It was the practice before the home opener, and my squad was practicing to audition a kick routine. On one of the moves my ankle twisted I heard a loud pop and I fell to the ground. Knowing how much pain I can usually handle I got up and kept going and then I realized this was different and I had to sit down. I went to the doctor the next day and found out I had a bad sprain and she put me in an air cast and on crutches. That was that, I was out. I spent months going to practice and learning dance after dance and now all I could do was watch everyone else perform. It was the worst feeling in the world. I still went to every practice to take notes and after a few weeks I started standing in the back to learn the dances as well as I could.

Our Christmas Spectacular half-time show was my first game back. I was super excited but extremely nervous. This wasn't just a normal game, it was also our first halftime show and the pressure was on. Once I was out on the court though I didn't want it to end, performing again was the best feeling. Getting through the injury tested me in so many different ways—not just my body and how fast it could recover, but my persistence and determination. One of the questions I get asked all the time is "what are the other girls like?" and I know people can't wait to hear about the drama.

Sorry to disappoint, but all I have ever been able to say is that the girls are great. They are all very successful and talented women, and even though practices and games can be extremely intense and challenging we all like to have fun. We are there to dance. Yes it's a job for us, but first and foremost it's our passion. Maybe it's a bond we all share because we are dancers, but we really do get along and support each other.

When I am at games watching and I see the other girls performing I still get that excited feeling in my stomach and think to myself, I hope to be one of them someday. It's an extremely surreal feeling when it finally hits me. I am a Luvabull.

Labels: , ,