I never thought that I would be on a professional cheer/dance team growing up. It was not even considered in my adult life until early October 2010. In order to understand why I Octane, you need to make sense of where I was coming from.
I was 11 weeks into a 16-week training program for my very first full marathon. During this time frame I was undergoing a huge transition in both my personal and professional life. I honestly felt a like I had lost a few things: my direction, my focus, and my smile, in addition to 43 pounds and 19 inches. My running coach brought in a guest speaker to address different cross training techniques that was appropriate for runners. Dancing in all forms was high on the list to my surprise. It strengthens legs, is a good cardio workout and just generally fun for all ages! Not much thought went into dancing after the guest speaker left, I just wanted to get through the next 32km run without passing out.
Enter stage left, Dr Mailie Harris and the Edmonton Oilers. I had met Mailie through my various running clinics, and had her on my facebook. In checking the news feed late one night, I noticed that she had posted something regarding a cheer/dance team being formed for the Oilers and that auditions were going to be held in mid to late October. I truthfully do not know what came over me, but I emailed her and in asking for more details, I outlined that I did not have ANY dance experience. Her reply was almost immediate, and what really had me was that she was “looking for potential and not perfection” and that NO, I wasn’t too old to try out either.
I made note of the audition dates and thought, I need to keep active this winter after my marathon training was done. What is the worst that they could say? No?
Auditions went by in a blur…choreo night. Performing the dance in front of the judges. Interviews. Performing the dance for the judges again. As each stage of auditions was completed I was more and more stunned that I had made it through. I fumbled the dance so much, that I had honestly thought that I was out. My thoughts were always, I am not a dancer, I run. So it was okay if they said no.
Then it happened. It was just after dinner a few days after auditions were completed and Mailie called. I was standing in my kitchen and she asked if I had a few minutes. She then told me that she was thrilled to invite me to be part of the very first Canadian NHL Cheer Team. I quickly gushed and said awesome! She was clear that I was being brought on the team to mainly do promotions in and around Rexall, but that eventually if I worked hard enough that I could start performing too.
After putting the phone down, I slumped into a chair and thought, what have I gotten myself into? I didn’t know the first thing about performing a dance in front of an audience, how to do stage makeup so I wouldn’t sweat it off, backcomb my hair and I certainly did not know the dancer’s language.
The first couple months of practices I was so overwhelmed. It was not uncommon for me to leave practices with tears in my eyes I really had no clue what I was doing. I was so scared of making a fool out of myself in front of the rest of the team that I usually practiced off to one side, out of view.
Friends and family were astonished to learn that I was sticking with something that I felt was such a personal challenge. “Your just a volunteer, your not getting paid for this…just give it up if its that hard” was a line I heard too many times to count.
When the going gets tough, you buckle down and make the best of it was what my dad always said. So make the best of it I did. I attended every practice without fail. I practiced at home. I asked some of the girls if they could go over certain parts of dances with me. I propelled myself out of the corner and into view. I gave it 110% every chance I could.
It took some elbow grease, but I did make the transition from just promotions, to promotions AND dancing by the end of the season. One of my favourite performances from that first year was on my birthday…the LA Kings were in town, we were doing a dance to the Black Eyed Peas “Tonight’s Going to be a Good Night”…it was my 30th birthday, and one of the best nights of my life.
I re-auditioned for Octane the second year, because I didn’t want to be that ‘one-hit wonder 30 year old’. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this again, but better. After making the team for a second time, I still gave 110% at every practice and became a regular performing member of the team. I am still not the best dancer on the team, I mess up during routines more than I would like to admit.
So, why do I Octane?
Plain and simply, it changed my life.
I have never met so many amazing, talented, smart, beautiful and funny women as I did joining Octane. They have each helped me grow and become a better person. The ladies of Octane and the fans of Oil Country helped me regain my direction, focus and most importantly my smile. I am so grateful to each and every single person for that.
This weekend I challenge you to join me in walking through the doors of Telus Field on Friday night and again on Saturday morning for auditions. Take a chance on yourself and have a life changing experience!