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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dancing for the Kings 

Posted by Sasha at 5:47 PM ET

Sierra High grad Ochoa ready to hoop it up
Jason Campbell, Reporter
Manteca Bulletin

The highlight of Althea Ochoa's summer after graduating from Sierra just got a whole lot brighter.

On Wednesday night, Ochoa - a member of the Dance & Cheer Stars Studio run by former Raiderette Harmony Flores - got the word that she had been selected as one of the Sacramento Kings Royal Court Dancers.

She had finally hit the big time.

"It was a pretty intimidating process - there were a lot of girls there, and you spend two days trying to do the best you can so you can get a shot," Ochoa said. "I was actually really surprised when I found out because I'm one of the youngest girls out there, but I was happy at the same time."

And she won't waste any time when it comes to diving into her new role.

Today Ochoa will join her fellow Royal Court Dancers on a secret trip courtesy of Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof - one of several that she might be taking when basketball season starts to get back into full-swing.

With plans to go to San Francisco State in the fall, Ochoa is now going to have to decide whether to put her education on hold, or make the long commute up I-80 to Sacramento for practice sessions and the 44 home games she'll be participating in.

For Flores - who just saw her third student land a spot dancing for a Northern California professional sports franchise - she couldn't help but contain her emotions when describing how proud she was of Althea and all she had accomplished.

"Everyone always asks me if I'm going to go back and cheer again," Flores said while tearing up. "I'm more happy now that they're able to do it."

Ochoa is the second Sierra High School grad to land a spot on the Royal Court Dancers - after Kelsey Nagie did so for two seasons before moving over to the Golden State Warriors where she currently dances.

Jonni Rodgers - one of Flores' students - will be on the sidelines of the Oakland Raiders during this upcoming season, and Michelle Breitmaier served as a Gold Rush girl for the 2006-07 season.

Having such an unusually high number of her dancers make it to the highest level gives Flores a sense of pride and lets her know that her school can give young girls the tools to make it doing what they want to do.

"We've never had somebody go out for a professional try-out and not succeed," Flores said. "That's something we'd like to continue, and have these girls represent Manteca in the world of sports."

Dance & Cheer Starts is located at 1240 DuPont Court off of Spreckels Avenue. For more information, call 456-7373.

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