Saturday, April 19, 2008

Raiderette Finals This Sunday 

Posted by Sasha at 2:22 PM ET

By Cory Sterling
April 16, 2008

<<Launch the photo gallery!>>

The crafting of the next iteration of the Raiders top-notch cheerleading squad began this past Sunday as the preliminary audition proved to be the first stepping stone for selecting the 2008 Raiderettes.

The process for the preliminary audition is quite simple. Participants arrive at the registration desk at 8:00 a.m. for check-in, receive a number and then anxiously wait to be called in for an interview.

With registration check-in slated for 8:00 a.m., it was generally understood that it was going to be a long day. “My alarm went off at 5:15 a.m.,” said Hailey who happily participated in her first Raiderette audition. The early morning didn’t dampen any of the excitement of auditioning for the Raiderettes. “I don’t really get tired because it’s so much fun to get dressed up and be on stage,” Hailey said in an energetic tone.

The color spectrum of the clothing at Sunday’s preliminary audition encompassed the rainbow, as each participant donned an outfit that was reflective of their personality. The preliminary audition is largely based around presenting the different characteristics of oneself to the judges, including looks, attitude, character or poise under pressure.

As a judge, deciphering between a plethora of well rounded candidates is no easy task. “You think you are just going to come and sit down and it will be easy, but it’s actually a lot harder than people think,” said Felicia McDaniel, a celebrity judge who is the sports editor for the Globe Newspaper. Of course, one can never forget what is at stake. “To be a part of The Raiderettes, Football’s Fabulous Females, you have to be absolutely fabulous,” said McDaniel.

What is on the judges criteria for a successful audition? “I look for the ‘IT’ factor, the total package,” said McDaniel. “You have to smile, be charismatic, have the dancing skills and hold that wow factor.”

Along with all the aesthetic and characteristics of each individual candidate, McDaniel has a strong understanding that each participant in the audition is part of a bigger picture. “Being a Raiderette is a hard job and it is really harder than it looks,” she said. “[They] will be ambassadors. The Raiders and the Raiderettes are known all around the world.”

The global popularity of the Raiderettes was represented in a tangible form on Sunday as one participant ventured across two countries, one ocean and over 5,000 miles just to attend the audition. Yukiko, a native of Tokyo, Japan, traveled all the way to Oakland to audition for the squad.

“I came here to make the squad this year,” said Yukiko excitedly. “I came alone and my flight just landed. I was nervous I would not make it on time.” The Japanese native found out about the auditions by logging onto www.raiders.com and followed the instructions from there. “I found out about the auditions from the Raiders web site, I read all the information from the site.”

Despite the vast distance between locations, the motivation to make the trip was never in question. “I came here to make the squad this year,” said Yukiko. “My friend cheers for the Denver Broncos, so I knew about cheering in America.” Yukiko only wanted to try out for The Raiderettes because, “I love Football’s Fabulous Females and I want to be a fabulous girl.”

Even if she doesn’t make it to the final audition, the trip will still be an unforgettable one for Yukiko. “I met some of the Raiderettes and they were all so great. I want to be like them. This was so cool.”

Just as each candidate came with their own story of how they got to the audition, they also all have different reasons for wanting to join the squad. For Danielle, the auditions and prospect of being a Raiderette holds both social and philanthropic goals.

For Danielle, one of the reasons she auditioned was because she wants to be part of a team again. “It’s cool meeting all these different girls. We all have similar goals and interests.”

In Stephanie’s case, she wants to be a Raiderette because it will help her get involved with a community she is still getting familiar with. “I just moved here two years ago and I want to be active in the community. I want to make more friends and I love to perform so this is definitely my thing, I would love to do this.”

After all of the participants presented themselves in front of the judges, there were long deliberations and finally decisions made about who would be asked to attend the final auditions this Sunday. “For those of you who don’t make it, do not despair. Every time you go through a process, you learn something,” said Raiderette Director Karen Kovac.

As the numbers were called out to the group, there was a clear divide between elated faces and disappointed ones. After it was all said and done, no one could deny the special experience they had just gone through. “It’s disappointing not to make it, but I am still really happy I came out today. I feel like a learned a lot,” said Sarah.

For those who were selected to the final audition, there was a brief moment of joy followed by the realization that there is still so much work ahead. “It feels great and I am really excited, but I want to start learning the dancing already and get the show on the road. The biggest challenge has yet to come,” said Nikki.

Come Sunday, The Raider Nation will see the 2008 Raiderettes for the first time right here on Raiders.com.

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