Wednesday, December 10, 2008
All of Erica's friends were shocked when they learned she had become a Raiderette.
For four seasons Erica Arana dazzled the fans at McAfee Colliseum as a member of the Oakland Raiderettes. But her journey to the NFL sidelines was an unlikely one.
Erica grew up in Southern California in the small Ventura County town of Fillmore. She came from a big Mexican family. Her dad has ten brothers and sisters, and mom has eight and there are too many cousins to count. Spanish is her first language and she remembers not speaking a word of English her first day of kindergarten.
She's always a been a tomboy and interested in trying new things. From a young age, track and field, and soccer were her passions. At Fillmore High School where she excelled in track and field, she holds records for the high jump, triple jump, long jump, 4x400m relay, and 4x100m relay. Competing in the heptathalon for Moorpark College, she placed third in the state of California.
With all of her athletic success, she was never a cheerleader in high school, but she secretly wanted to be.
Sitting in the Black Hole at her first Raider game, Erica was mesmerized by how beautiful the Raiderettes were. She thought to herself, "I wanna do that next."
Shortly after attending that game she met a few Raiderettes that were also of Mexican descent. It hit close to home and she made the decision to move to Northern California to try out. And she says it was one of the best decisions she had ever made.
Many doors opened for once Erica made the squad. One of the opportunities she's most excited about is her work on OuttaBounds TV.
OuttaBounds TV is a sports entertainment show. She describes it as "Sports Outside The Box". Erica gets to interview people in both the Sports and Entertainment industries. She really believes she has found her niche in broadcasting. She says she's trying to take this opportunity and just run with it. She's also considering going back to college and obtain her degree in Communications/Broadcasting.
Last year Erica and her boyfriend, Jarrod, began volunteering at the Oakland Animal Shelter. Moved greatly by the plight of the animals, they started their own non-profit to help keep animals out of shelters by providing financial support to pet owners. Help Code 597 (named for the California Penal Code Section that covers mistreatment of animals) will help equip owners with better restraining devices, perhaps a crate or a dog run, plus neutering services or microchips that help locate lost animals.
Erica with Oreo, the three-legged dog.
Ercia has two Presa Canario dogs (an American Bulldog & Spanish Mastiff mix) named Kristo and Kaine. They are two-years old and weigh about 120 lbs. She also has an adorable Maine Coon kitten that was born on her birthday. His name is Warren, named after former Oakland Raider Warren Sapp.
So when she's not modeling, broadcasting or helping distressed animals, how does Erica like to spend her free time? She loves to ride. Erica owns a Yamaha 125 dirtbike and a Honda Ruckus, and she's working her way up to a big girl street bike.
She has also done motivational speakings at a few Bay-area high schools. She had never looked at herself as a role model but now realizes as a Raiderette, she was ambassador to the community. She gets such a great reaction from young kids, just by sharing the story of her life. She says it's an amazing feeling.
Even though she is no longer a Raiderette, Coors Light continues to use Erica as the primary face for all western-region point-of-sale advertising for the NFL. She says it's a thrill to continue to see her picture around the stadium and on billboards.
Erica misses being a Raiderrette greatly. And it really hits home when she hears "Hells Bells" during the player introductions. She still gets goose bumps, but it's a completely different feeling to sit in the stands (She has season tickets on the 40-yard line) than cheer on the sidelines.
But what she misses most is her Raiderette sisters. And who knows if Erica may be back in the Silver and Black. She hasn't totally ruled out returning from retirement for one more season as a Raiderette.
[Help Code 597]