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The Sacramento Lady Lions, the official cheer squad for the Mountain Lions UFL team, held their final team tryouts Friday night at Dream Ultra Lounge.
The event bore little resemblance to last month’s preliminaries, which were six hours long, closed to the public and held in a barn in Rio Linda.
The finals had a party atmosphere, befitting the locale. The public was welcome, so the 51 hopefuls were supported by friends and family as they vied for the 32 spots on the team.
When I arrived at 5:30 p.m., there was already a line to get in, perhaps 100 strong.
Dream is basically a large, square venue with an ample, curved, wrap-around bar smack dab in the middle. As you enter the club, the DJ booth is directly to your left, with the dance floor in front of it, and beyond that was the judges’ table. There are booths along the side walls and a hallway in the back that completes the circuit around the venue. The aspirant young ladies were in the back right of the club, preparing for the competition.
As I walked through, I recognized Jenna M. from the first round of tryouts. I asked her if she was feeling more or less nervous the second time around.
"About the same" she said. "We've been practicing."
In the interim between the prelims and the finals, the girls had not only been practicing their routines but had also been subjected to a stringent interview process and an extensive boot camp.
Lindsay Shoemaker, director of the Lady Lions, said they wanted to make sure the girls were fully committed to the team.
"They've been doing burpees," she told the attendees before bringing the ladies out. "Burpees are not fun."
At just a bit after 6 p.m., the tryout began with each girl getting a brief introduction, followed by the opportunity to do a little un-judged dance from the DJ booth to the judges’ table. Once they had gone through everyone, the competition began in earnest.
The ladies were split into three groups. Each group had a different song for the free dance portion of the tryout. The first group danced to Mike Posner's "Please Don't Go," the second to Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" and the third to Usher's "More."
I can honestly say that I don't like any of these songs, but all three were a welcome respite from Flo Rida and Akon's "Who Dat Girl," to which the choreographed routine is set. That song haunts my dreams.
The girls paired up for the routine, followed by their solos, where they had six eight-counts to make an impression on the judges with their creativity and personality.
There was one clear crowd favorite through the process. No. 48, Zarah R., must have had 30-plus friends and family in attendance, many of whom carried signs bearing her likeness and one of whom, to the consternation of most in attendance, carried a mini air horn.
It took about an hour and a half to complete the tryout, and then came the hard part: tallying up the votes from the 11-person judging panel.
'It's going to be a real tough decision," Shoemaker said. "I'm glad I don't have to judge the finals."
Indicative of the difficulty of the decision, the judges deliberated for a full hour.
Just before 9 p.m., all the hopefuls returned to the dance floor, where, after offering words of encouragement to all the ladies who didn't make the squad, Shoemaker called out the numbers of the girls who made the team.
When she called out No. 48, it was bedlam.
Jenna M's No. 23 was called as well. When I asked her how she felt, she answered my query with one of her own, "How do you think?" she asked, a huge smile on her face.
Now that they've got the cheerleading squad, they can focus on building the football team.
Your 2011 Sacramento Lady Lions:
Jazmin "Jazzy" A.
Roxanne "Roxy" C.