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Monday, June 23, 2008

Riverside woman selected for Chargers Girls team 

Posted by Sasha at 7:23 PM ET

By Marlene Toscano
The Press-Enterprise

At age 18, Riverside resident Lindsay Peña is on the way to fulfilling her dreams.

During tryouts in April, Peña, a 2007 Arlington High School graduate, was picked out of 550 women to be a Charger Girl cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers.

"It's always been a dream of mine to be a professional dancer and perform in front of thousands of people," Peña said during a phone interview.

Peña said she wasn't nervous about doing well at the tryout, but felt more of an "adrenaline rush."

Peña has been dancing since she was 3 years old and has trained at Freddie Finn Dance Studio in Riverside, said her mother Sandy.

The night before the tryouts on April 13, Peña wasn't sure whether she would compete, she said.

The next day, she told her parents that she wanted to compete. Her family dropped everything they were doing to accompany her, she said.

"It was just a spur of the moment thing," said Peña, who had been told by a friend and fellow dancer about the tryouts.

"I had a feeling," Peña said. "It was just time to go try something new."

The tryouts were a three-day process at the Jenny Craig Pavilion at the University of San Diego.

On the first cut, the number of women was whittled to 80. The next round was an interview with a panel of judges, Peña said.

They asked what was her biggest weakness, her career plans and why she wanted to be a Chargers Girl, Peña said.

Peña said her biggest weaknesses is her sensitivity to criticism from "mean girls."

"But that's not a weakness I think I can't surpass and get over," Peña said.

Peña was one of 14 selected for the 28-member team. She is the youngest on the team, her mother said.

The team practices for three-and-half hours twice a week and then for about eight hours one Saturday a month, Peña said.

Peña, a part-time personal trainer at Bally's, said she hopes the opportunity might lead to an open door in the entertainment business.

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