Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thunder Girls: Beauty and brains 

Posted by Sasha at 5:06 PM ET

Edmond residents make NBA dance team
Courtney Crauthers
The Edmond Sun
November 24, 2008

EDMOND — The Oklahoma City Thunder Girls, the official dance team for the NBA Oklahoma City-based basketball team, exhibit more than outward beauty. Each girl also had to pass an extensive interviewing process, proving that they attend college or work full-time.

“You’re looking at the whole picture,” said coach Sabrina Ellison, who danced for two NFL dance teams during an eight-year span. “They have to be good role models. They are ambassadors.”

Two Edmond residents and one University of Central Oklahoma student were chosen for the 20-member team from the 200 women who auditioned.

Brittany Wade and Lindsay Goodman, Edmond residents, and Brittany Gissandaner, each have an extensive dance background, which includes dancing for the Yard Dawgs Arena Football Team.

Wade, 22, graduated from Santa Fe High School and is finishing up her senior year at the University of Oklahoma as a human relations major. She danced on the OU pom team for four years.

“I wanted to take my dancing career to the next level and to do that in Oklahoma City is huge,” Wade said.

Gissandaner, 20, a UCOjunior, has danced for the univeristy’s pom team and is studying for a degree in business. She said she has been dancing since she was 3-years-old and dancing for the NBA is a dream for her.

“My degree was my back up,” she said. “You can’t dance forever.”

Goodman 26, graduated from Edmond Memorial High School and danced for the EMHS and the UCO pom teams. She is studying for a master’s degree in adult training education and works full-time for an IV pharmaceutical company.

“I always wanted to be on an NBA dance team,” Goodman said. “I’m 26 and I wanted to have another shot at my dance career after college.”

The three women went through a week-long audition process before making the team and said they enjoyed meeting so many new people and seeing so many different dance styles. They made it through two cuts the first day and then were among the 45 finalists that came back for interviews.

“It was nerve racking,” Gissandaner said.

Ellison said each of the three bring special contributions to the team. Goodman was selected for her “magnetic” performances and to act as a role model for the younger girls, Gissandaner for her smile, sweet demeanor and carefree attitude and Wade for her great technical dancing and experience performing for large crowds.

The women, however, had no time to revel in their success of making the team. Once the team was selected, they had exactly one month to prepare for their first week of games. They practice anywhere from three to four nights a week for three to four hours, memorize three to four new routines a week, perform for two to three games a week and make weekly appearances as ambassadors for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I’ve learned time management skills,” Goodman said. “Each night you go out there and you just perform your best.”

Despite the fact that all danced for the Yard Dawgs, the women were both excited and nervous their first game.

“I was nervous but I was ecstatic,” Gissandaner said. “I remember the first time coming down the stairs. I was shaking.”

Wade said she really loves performing.

“When that music turns on, it’s like a whole other person comes to life,” she said. “I would love to do this again if given the opportunity.”

Gissandaner said being a member of the team has taught her confidence.

“I’ve always doubted myself,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

Goodman said this has been a great opportunity to network and meet people.

“Most girls don’t have the opportunity to do something like this,” she said.

Wade, Gissandaner and Goodman are featured in the 2008 Thunder Girl Calendar along with their 17 other team mates. It can be purchased for $20 at the Thunder Shop at thunder.nba.com or at any Thunder game at the Ford Center.

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