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Amanda's Blog: Risk Takers

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
The glue is tacky, which means that it is ready to be applied to the eyelash strip. Once I get these suckers on, it means that I have finished getting ready for auditions. As I am applying the second lash, my composure crumbles and my hands start to shake. Trying to apply fake eyelashes while your hands shake is not an easy feat…plus it means the glue gets in your eye and that can be a first aid nightmare. I have glued my contact lens to my eye more times than I would like to admit last season.

I slump onto the edge of my bed. Auditions, even after two years, do not get any easier. In fact I have felt more pressure because I am not only one of the veterans on the team that would like to return, but I am an original member. I sit on the edge of my bed, staring at my hands until my roommate, and fellow returning Octane member Teryn, walks in and asks if I am ready.  I take a deep breath, and say ‘just after I get this last lash on, I will be ready to rock’.

My first year audition I was handed a tryout number. Mine that year was 54. Live from studio 54 was all I could think of when I saw it. Second year auditions I was allowed to pick out my own number. I instantly gravitated to 254. Year 2, number 54 was what I was thinking. At times I will fully admit to being just as superstitious as a sailor, so upon checking in I requested 354. No luck, I was handed 181 and directed to the prep area.

Octane hopefuls are practicing the audition routine over and over as I walked into the prep area. You can feel the nervousness in the air, but the excited energy is even more abundant. Seeing smiling faces and laughter puts me more at ease. I pick out a small portion of the prep area and start stretching out my legs. There are technical kicks in the routine, and the last thing that I need to have happen is to pull a muscle in my leg and have my race season cut short due to injury.

The time has arrived. We are paired up, and then form a line outside the audition area. My stomach is blessedly calm and my hands have lost the tremble from earlier. I am paired up with a new Octane hopeful, and she smiles nervously as we are called in to be presented in front of the judges.

We quickly say our names, why we would like to be on Octane and something about ourselves. Then we take our places. The music starts and my mind instantly goes blank, but it is not the kind where I have forgotten anything, it’s the kind that signals I am focused. My muscles start performing the routine according to memory, a slight hiccup happens at the end, and then it’s over. We thank the judges and head back to the prep area.

Once everyone has run through the dance again, we are given a new pairing and head back to the audition area to perform in front of the judges again. It was after the routine was completed a second time that my nervous energy returned, my palms go sweaty and the tremble returns to my hands. Although the judges’ panel were exceedingly nice, no one truly enjoys being judged. I had done everything that I could do at this point, and it was now out of my hands. Now we wait.

The judges deliberated for just over an hour. My nervous energy escaped me and I was left feeling as if I needed a nap.

Head Coach Dr. Mailie Harris then entered the prep area. She explained that they had made some cuts, which means some girls are moving on and others will not be. She told us of the time that she first tried out for the Toronto Argos cheer team. She didn’t make it her first year, but instead of getting down on herself, she took it as constructive criticism and used that year to get better. The second year she tried out and made the team.

Having been on the team for the last two years I have advantages and disadvantages with the coaches and judging panel. The advantage is that they know me. The disadvantage is that they know me. So as I walk up to the piece of paper that was taped outside the audition area, I quickly tried to recount every detail of the last two seasons to see if there would be any reason as to why I wouldn’t be picked. There are 2 columns of numbers…181 is at the bottom of the second column. I made it through the first round.

My thoughts quickly turn to those that did not make it past the first round and how proud of them I was.

It is never an easy thing to put yourself out there and be turned down. But these amazing ladies had the courage to do just that. They took a risk. Even though they didn’t make it, they still got up, took that chance and walked through those doors. They tried something that scared them. I hope that this experience was a positive one for them, and that they continue to take risks.  

It is the risk takers in life that truly live life to the fullest, and ladies, I salute you.
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