Erica Wins "Peoples Choice" Vote, To Begin Second Season With Thunder Girls

Last week, the Thunder Girls held final auditions in Bricktown for the 2009-10 dance team. Eighteen ladies were named to the team, however, two Thunder Girl hopefuls were chosen to participate in the first ever “People’s Choice” vote.

When the online voting ended on Monday afternoon on THUNDER.NBA.COM, veteran Thunder Girl and former captain Erica was named the “People’s Choice” winner.

The “People’s Choice” Thunder Girl on-line voting competition had an overwhelming response with 13,168 fans voicing opinions in hopes their favorite candidate would make the cut. Erica narrowly won the competition with 7,110 total votes.

“We’ve held the dance team auditions at Toby Keith’s ‘I Love this Bar and Grill’ for the past two seasons, and it’s a great environment for the competition,” said Brian Byrnes, the Thunder’s Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service. “Adding this online fan vote to this year’s competition increased the excitement. You could feel the build-up the entire evening.”

Erica is a local account executive from Midwest City, and is no stranger to the professional dance circuit. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education from the University of Central Oklahoma. Erica also aspires to compete in a natural body-building competition in the figure division.

With Erica being named the “People’s Choice” Thunder Girl, it brings the team total to 19 members.

“I’m very excited to have Erica returning because she’s such a magnetic performer,” said Dance Team Manager and Choreographer Sabrina Ellison. “As our fans have seen last season she is a dancer you can’t take your eyes off of and it’s a pleasure to be able to work with her again for another season.”

Winning the “People’s Choice” contest didn’t come easy for Erica. She said she’s been nervous wreck for the past five days. But, she said, she’s very grateful to have the opportunity to be back on the team and with her teammates who she considers her best friends.

“The expectations were much higher this year during the auditions,” she said. “Being on the team last year only made me realize how much harder we would all need to work to guarantee a spot on the team. The addition of the People’s Choice online vote was completely new to me as well. I have never been so nervous before, but in the end it was all worth it.”

Before the Thunder, Erica was a member of the Arena Football OKC Yard Dawgz dance team, a position she still holds during the NBA off-season.

“I have been dancing since I was five and always knew that there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I pursued a degree in dance and while in college I auditioned for the Yard Dawgz Dance Team and made it. Being on that dance team opened my eyes to a new love of sports and sports dance. With the arrival of the Thunder I knew it was time for me to shoot for the stars and take the chance of dancing professionally.”

With the final addition of Erica to the Thunder Girls dance team, there will be 11 returning dancers and eight new members, a balance that Ellison sees as a good fit.

“I’m excited to have both veterans and rookies added to the dance team,” Ellison said. “I strongly believe every individual chosen to be part of the 2009-10 Thunder Girls has something special to offer our program. The veterans will be great leaders to help me guide the new dancers on what is asked out of a pro dancer and ambassador for the Thunder. The newcomers bring new blood that will energize our program with their enthusiasm.”

With nearly 13,200 votes in a five-day span, the online “People’s Choice” vote generated interest from fans on the team’s website.

“Without the fans taking the time to vote I would not be here,” Erica said. “My place as a Thunder Girl was placed in your hands. Thanks to all of you I was given the chance to live my dream once again.“