Dream Team Spotlight: All In The Family

by Max Rappaport
Sixers.com Writer
@MaxRappaport

The marriage between sports and entertainment is one that grows stronger with each passing year. Pyrotechnics, light shows, live music… All are par for the course at professional basketball games in 2014. But one major aspect of the NBA’s in-game entertainment dates back to the humble beginnings of the sport.

Dance teams have long been a staple of the NBA experience, with each of the league’s 30 franchises fielding a squad. It’s a tradition that dates back over 40 years, and the Sixers were one of the stewards of the trend.

The first iteration of Sixers dancers, then called the Liberty Belles, were established in 1971 and looked a lot different than the ones we see at games today. The 15 ladies on the inaugural squad dressed up like revolutionary soldiers and more closely resembled high school and collegiate cheer squads. 

“Today’s team is much more technical than ours was,” said Cheryl Nadler, an original member Liberty Belles. “When I was on the team, it was much more cheering and less dancing.”

Although she hung up her tri-corner hat and star-spangled leotard years ago, Cheryl still remains closely involved with today’s team. In fact, her daughter, Dayna Hafetz, was a Sixers Dancer for seven years (1999-2006) and has served as the team’s coach since 2009.

“When I was younger, I’d come to games with my mom, and I always loved watching the dancers. I tried out when I was 19 and made the team,” Dayna said. “My parents came to every single game and were very supportive.”

Even though she’s now the one watching the routines from the sidelines, Dayna still benefits from her mother’s wisdom.

“I always come out and help judge dance team tryouts, and I still come to all the games and watch the routines,” Cheryl said. “Dayna loves to hear my input.”

A Sixers dance team lifer, Dayna continues to carry a torch that was lit by her mother over 40 years ago.

“Now my daughter takes dance, so who knows what the future will hold!”

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Think you have what it takes to join the squad? The Sixers Dream Team is holding open auditions in Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 18 and in New York on Wednesday, June 26. MORE INFO