2012-2013 Wizards Home Opener
I set my alarm for 8 a.m. on Saturday, November 3, 2012 so that I could hit the gym and get my energy up for the long day ahead…I knew I would need it! The night before I had packed away my uniforms and practice attire, along with my makeup and hair needs. Though it had only been two days since our last practice, it felt like I had been away from my teammates for far too long. I pulled into the parking garage at the Verizon Center just before our call time of 12 o’clock pm. I was greeted by a myriad of familiar faces: my teammates, security staff, and members of Game Operations. As a Wizard Girl in her second season, I had made this very walk into the arena countless times. This time felt different.
The energy was incredible; the locker room had an air of excitement about it that you just don’t get during practices in the off season. This vigor and liveliness could only mean one thing: Basketball Is Back! As a Wizard Girl, you don’t get much vacation time. As soon as the regular season ends, you begin prepping for auditions for the following year. We were fortunate enough to have several travel opportunities this summer with the NBA in Thailand and China, as well as the opportunity to dance for the US Olympic Team in our own backyard! However exhausted we may have been from appearances and promotional events that never ceased over the summer, the atmosphere in the Verizon Center Saturday night was enough to revive us.
At twelve o’clock sharp, the Wizard Girls hit the ground running with an hour long Court Practice. During this time, we walked through our formations and ran our dances several times to get a feel for how our shoes felt on the court floor, and to help our newest members orient themselves with front and back, scores tables and DJ booths. This comes in handy when you are performing, and everything looks the same! From one to three o’clock, we participated in our all-hands practice with announcers, Power Pack, and the Dunk Team.
By this time, we were feeling pretty exhausted, but a Wizard Girl’s job is never done…so it was off to hair and makeup to begin primping! Luckily, some of our most gracious teammates volunteered to head to Starbucks for a dose of much-needed fuel. At 5 o’clock we began going over the game schedule in skeleton-form, since the entertainment piece in basketball is subject to change at ANY given moment. Following our team meeting, ladies were sent up to the concourse to interact with fans for pre-game autographs and photos.
With our locker room shot clock counting us down to the much-anticipated 7 o’ clock tip off time, there was a range of emotions present among our group. Our rookies were wondering what to expect while the more seasoned members of our team were all too ready to lead the way. Personally, I had been waiting for the Home Opener since our 2012-2013 team was named in July. Being an NBA dancer is such a unique experience, and I was ready for the bright lights, the sea of Wizards Jerseys, and the adrenaline rush that comes with performing in front of your home crowd night after night. We live for the thrill, and this game did not disappoint! Though the Wizards did not come out on top Saturday night, it was definitely a nail-biter, and I have never been happier to cheer for my Washington Wizards than I was that night…in front of a completely SOLD OUT crowd!
As I made my way through the event floor on my way to the locker room following the game, I passed one of my favorite members of the Event Staff. We shared a moment of disappointment with the game’s final score, but we both agreed that after seeing the Wizards’ performance, we were looking forward to the season ahead. 1 home game down, 40 to go…and I am both eager and grateful to be a part of each one!