Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Day At The Laker Girl Tryouts 

Posted by Sasha at 7:18 PM ET

One Intrepid Writer Learns What Being A Laker Girl Means
Jul 21, 2008

LOS ANGELES (CBS) ― We all know what the best part of being at a Laker game is, right? No, no, it is not watching Kobe Bryant. No, it is not trying to pick out all the celebrities in the crowd. No, it is not the "Kiss Me Cam."

I'll give you a hint: it does not take place during the game, but during the timeouts.

If you still have not guessed right than I guess you have not been to a Laker game. The best part about going to a Laker game at Staples Center has been, and always will be watching the Laker Girls.

The Laker Girls are not just any girls who parade themselves onto the court and put on a simple dance routine for 20,000 people to stare at them. They are not just some pretty girls who doll themselves up in order to look like Barbie dolls. They are not just any kind of girls. They are Laker Girls. One of the most choreographed dancers I have ever seen and by far the best dancers of any other professional sports teams. Come on, there is even a movie that was made about them!

But what separates the Laker Girls from the rest of the pack? When interviewing several Laker Girls hopefuls at the team's tryouts at the Lakers' practice facility on July 19th, it was clear to see what makes the Laker Girls so special.

"Since I was three years old, I wanted to be a Laker Girl. It's just something that I always wanted to do and I love what it represents," said a Diamond Bar native who dreams of being a Laker Girl.

"(The) Lakers are such a prestigious team and so well known for years," says Brin Baker, who is not from Los Angeles but is still a fan.

When asked if she would rather take a hundred thousand dollars or a spot on the team, Baker began to roll her eyes a bit, smiled, dropped her head back to ponder before responding, "I would take a spot on the team, definitely! This is a hard opportunity to get."

Now that is what I call commitment. How many people would not take a hundred thousand dollars over a job? If it were up to me, I would take the cash and find a job elsewhere. But not these girls; these girls are hungry for this once in a lifetime chance - the chance to be part of something they know is special, a chance to be part of the aura of being a Laker Girl.

But just how special are the Laker Girls?

In 1979, in order to improve the atmosphere at Laker home games, Lakers' owner Jerry Buss brought together women from USC and UCLA in order to form the first ever Laker Girls. Instantly the Laker Girls became trend-setters for music videos with their creative dance routines, and became the most prominent dance group in the NBA.

The Laker Girls also do quite a bit of volunteer work for local charities and even traveled abroad to support US troops overseas. The Laker Girls are not just a dance team, they are the ideal that all other NBA dance teams aspire to be.

Coach Lisa Estrada said she was looking for "Dance ability, showmanship, energy, and girls with confidence to perform in front of a lot of people."

Estrada also mentioned that she turned down numerous opportunities to do reality shows about the Laker Girls, saying that she preferred documentaries, which had been made about her dance team in the past. The coach said that documentaries are "More informative, versus the trial and tribulations of reality."

According to Estrada, it is imperative for her dance team to keep up a positive image, and to represent integrity. She would not want the team to become a mockery or a stage for young women to dramatize their life issues on a reality television show.

Even returning team member are required to try out each year. Estrada said that this is to keep the playing field field even for all prospective dancers. Estrada believes that this policy keeps things "fresh and new."

"It's only fair," Estrada added.

Essentially, the dancers have to audition for their own jobs each year. This exemplifies the amount of effort and commitment necessary in team members.

Many observers mistakenly think that the Laker Girls are just good-looking women who can dance, and nothing else. Do not tell that to Laker Girl hopeful Natasha, a native Hawaiian who says that the Laker Girls don't just represent sexy; they represent a "classy sexy," and that's one of the main ingredients that enticed her to want to be pert of the team.

Many of those who belittle the team would question whether the Laker Girls have any effect on the Laker games.

"I think they definitely do because they interact with the crowd and the way the crowd responds affects the players," said one prospective dancer.

While it is arguable whether the Laker Girls really affect the outcome of a game, anything to get the nonchalant Lakers' crowd going certainly can't hurt. Unfortunately, I was at game four of the Finals this year, and while the Celtics were erasing a twenty-four point lead, a time out was called by the Lakers. The Laker Girls came racing out onto the court at once, and my brother turned around to me and said, "Hey, at least we have the Laker Girls." That cheered me up and as a result I stayed a little more positive as a fan during the rest of the game.

Another tryout participant explained how Laker Girls are role models as well as just models.

"I remember watching the girls on the court (when I was a kid) and I wanted to be just like them and I said to myself if I ever became one of those girls that I would be an inspiration to the little ones."

The Laker Girls are not just some dance team for fans' enjoyment. They are a team just like any other sports team. They need players with talent, good attitudes, commitment, and above all they need to be role models. So in the end, the Laker Girls are special and the women who try out know it. One hopeful was asked what it really means to be a Lakers Girl.

"Jeez, I mean it's the Laker girls. It's so well known, it's just an amazing team. Just look at how many girls are here! It's definitely hard to get on the team for sure."

I think that sums it up nicely.

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