When I made the Dallas Stars Ice Girl team, I had expectations about what practices would be like, but it turned out to be so much more challenging and rewarding than I ever expected! Practices are essential to building a world-class organization. We have practice twice a week, each lasting about five hours. Practices are devoted to spending time learning new dance combinations, improving skating skills and discussing any upcoming events or news within the Dallas Stars organization.
Practices begin with stretches and basic dance techniques such as high kicks and pirouettes. We then spend some time reviewing any dances we may have recently learned before heading onto the ice. Whether you audition as a dancer or a skater your rookie year, you are expected to learn to skate throughout the season. We have an amazing hockey coach and two great skate captains that skate with us. We have girls with skill levels ranging from beginner, all the way up to experienced figure skaters.
On the ice, we do basic drills like crossovers to focus on edges and weight transfer as well as work on technique to improve speed. Then, girls who are less experienced split off and continue these drills while our captains work with the skaters running the patterns done during games to clear the excess snow off the ice during TV timeouts. Progress for those of us who made the team as just dancers has been outstanding! I went from having no skating experience and having to use the boards to stop, to being able to skate fast, stop on both sides, do crossovers and skate backwards! When auditioning for our veteran year, we are all required to skate.
After skating, it’s back to the dance floor to begin running routines for intermission and tags we perform during “stops” in play. This takes about an hour to two hours, depending on the need to learn new combinations. Our director then sets us in a formation where we stand on our platform at the American Airlines Center on game nights. Each formation is set based on hair color, height and veteran versus rookie experience.
With more than 30 routines taught by our fabulous dance captains, remembering choreography is crucial. Some weeks we have learned a routine on Sunday, and perform it days later at a Friday game. This is where practicing at home comes into play in order to have it fully committed to memory by the next practice.
Practices are also used for team workouts to help whip us into shape. Our team trainer leads the team in workouts ranging from weight training exercises to various running drills through the parking garage. He also emails us workouts that we can do on days we don’t have practice. These workouts are helpful to build our stamina so we can perform for three hours, non -stop at each game.
The physical commitment of being an Ice Girl is enormous and requires a huge amount of dedication. Practices are key to molding us into a team throughout the season. When working through grueling workouts, cleaning dances and perfecting our skating skills, we become close with each other and build friendships unlike any other. We become a family, and establish life-long relationships.