Sunday, December 07, 2008
By Stuart London
[KiXX Dance Team]
Mary Judge might have be a veteran cheerleader but she is a relative newcomer to the world of dance. But her newfound passion has opened some doors for her. Judge, a resident of Andorra, is the only city resident who made this year's Philadelphia Kixx dance squad.
The Kixx are the local professional indoor soccer team and play at the Wachovia Spectrum through March. The 12-woman squad was unveiled to the public on Nov. 12 during a ceremony at Chickies & Pete's in South Philadelphia. The team performed two routines and then signed autographs. Suddenly, Judge found herself somewhat of a celebrity
"It was great; a lot of people showed up," said Judge. "The place was a little bit tight for our routines but we managed."Signing autographs was really interesting. It was different. My parents were there taking pictures. They were laughing about it, 'You're a star'."
Judge's path to stardom began at in high school. At Archbishop Ryan she was a member of the Raiders cheerleading squad. She then went on to be a cheerleader at Community College of Philadelphia and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated with a degree in interior design in 2002.
After graduation, Judge moved to Andorra and got involved in kitchen and bathroom designing but found she missed the excitement of cheerleading, and found there were others like her.
"I'm part of an all-star team that goes around and competes in national competitions," said Judge, 29. "Its girls my age that wanted to continue to cheer. It's more or less a hobby; it's not that time consuming. We practice once a week and we go to 4-5 competitions from January to April.
"It's funny, at the end of every season we all say we don't know if we are going to come back - but we always do."
Judge also gave back to her alma mater as for three years (2005-2007) she was a cheerleading coach at Ryan.
At the professional level, a team's cheerleading squad is more like a professional dance troupe so Judge never thought about trying out for any of the local pro sports team's squads.
But a few years ago, she began taking dance lessons and got serious about it.
"My background was more cheerleading than dancing but I began taking lessons at the Koresh Dance (Company) in Center City and it became fun," she said. "I guess I'm a late bloomer when it comes to dance. I hadn't been that interested before."
Judge went out earlier this year for the Soul-mates, the Philadelphia Soul's cheerleading squad, but did not make it. But she was not put off by the experience so when she read that the Kixx were holding auditions for their dance team, she went for it.
"It's kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity; I had to take a chance," Judge said. "There were 40-45 girls for the first audition and then for the second you met with the director and choreographer and they said you would get a call that night. I was actually sick that day but I tried to hide it.
"When I got the call, I was so excited."
Judge and the rest of the Kixx dance squad practice twice a week for three hours a session.
Most of the public just sees the three routines they perform during Kixx games but being a member of the dance team involves a lot more.
"We're always on the go at games," she said. "If we're not performing, we'll be meeting people in the club seats or interacting with the fans.
"And we have public appearances we'll make but I haven't gotten a schedule on that yet."
A big night for Judge will obviously be Dec. 13 as it is Dance Team Night.
The Kixx play the Monterrey La RaZa and the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a free 2008-09 Dance Team Calendar. Judge - who is Miss October - and the rest of the team will be available to autograph their calendar.
"It's been a lot of fun so far," she said.
[KiXX Dance Team]