Week 12: Carrie M.
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Those fans that were at Toyota Center March 31 when the Rockets hosted the Washington Wizards were treated to history, though they had no idea when they took their seats. For years, RPD has been entertaining Rockets fans with dance routines during timeouts. Against the Wizards they took it to another level.
Instead of their usual heart-pounding dance routine, RPD pounded a trampoline instead and took to the air in an acrobatic display of dunking. (Check it out in our video gallery). The group was led by first-year member Carrie M., who had no idea that she would be hanging on the rim at Toyota Center when she joined RPD prior to this season.
“There was the possibility of tumbling in some of our dance routines,” Carrie M. said. “But getting out there to dunk was never talked about. We are girls, and that was definitely not an idea that passed through my head when trying out.”
RPD got a close-up look at the Orlando Dunking Dancers during All-Star Week and when they watched the ladies from Orlando sky at Toyota Center, many members of RPD wanted to give it a try.
“We had been sitting in the stands for hours upon hours waiting for our turn to have the court to rehearse,” Carrie M. said. “They (Orlando) came out and did their thing, and we were very impressed. Then Clutch asked us if we wanted to try, and there were a few of us that were eager to, whether it was to really dunk or to just get up out of our seats for a while.”
Soon, Carrie M. and the rest of RPD were asked if they wanted to incorporate the dunking into their own routines. Some were receptive and others were not due to the obvious danger of launching yourself into the air without a net, but for Carrie M., there was never a question. She loved it from the first practice.
“The first practice, for me, was fun,” Carrie M. said. “It was just like being back in the gym at one of my gymnastics practices. It felt like home, but for others not so much. It was very interesting to see how certain people attempted to jump on it. At times it was even humorous! Of course in the beginning there were concerns for some of the girls, but not all of us. There were about four of us with gymnastics backgrounds, so we were pretty comfortable with the tramp. The biggest concern, I guess you could say for most, was where to start running from and what their steps were going to be before jumping on the tramp.”
It wasn’t long before Carrie was attempting the dunk that caught everyone’s attention March 31. Using an extensive gymanastics background as a crutch, Carrie M. became the first Power Dancer to dunk a basketball after completing a flip in the air with the aid of a trampoline.
“The front flip dunk came about because I’ve had 18-plus years of gymnastics and knew I could flip off a tramp,” Carrie M said. “I had seen past videos of dunkers flipping and dunking, so of course immediately I wanted to try it. I love challenging myself with new things and things I had never done before, and this definitely fell in that category.”
Despite how Carrie M. makes it sound, the dunk is far from simple, and even she was hesitant at first.
“I was a little nervous because I’ve flipped off trampolines many times, but never with a basket in front of me or with the fear that I could go too far forward and smash into the basket,” Carrie M. said. “That made me a little hesitant, but that feeling passed very quickly. I pulled the tramp back further than you normally would to dunk the ball just to feel how it would be, and it felt good. So we moved the tramp forward and started to attempt the front flip dunk. There were a couple of things that felt kind of different from doing it as I would have as a gymnast. First flipping with my legs straddled was something new. I had to, though, to make sure I would clear the basket every time. Then there was also the thing with the ball. That was odd at first – running then flipping with a basketball in my hands. The flip happens so fast and it is pretty much a blind dunk so I really had to trust my body and know I knew what to do. I did make the dunk the first day I started it, but definitely not on the first try. It was such a great feeling.”
Even several practices under her belt and the dunk pretty much perfected, Carrie M. was still nervous when RPD made their dunking debut. Once she got past the nerves, the debut was a huge success, which was easily measured by the Rockets fans in attendance.
“The crowd blew up, it was an awesome feeling,” Carrie M said. “I had never heard anything like that before. Also we were very much pre-warned that if we did not make the dunks that we could get booed, and that doesn't make it any easier when you think about it. Once we got out there and started to dunk, the crowd went wild. It was an awesome feeling. I had never heard anything like that before. They really seemed to get into it. I can't wait to do it again.”
That’s right, the game against Washington was just the beginning. RPD will be dunking the rest of the season, and this Wednesday Carrie M. will be attempting another dunk, though she won’t share the details.
“I’m not going to tell because it is a surprise for the fans,” Carrie M. said. “I will be doing one of my favorite dunks at the next game on April 12th. You'll just have to wait and see. It will be thrilling!”
You can catch Carrie M. and the rest of RPD at Toyota Center during Rockets home games and at appearances throughout Houston.
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