Throughout the course of the year, different members of the Warrior
Girls, the ultra-talented 18-member dance team of the
Golden State Warriors, will blog about their experiences with the team. From international trips to community
service events to practices to the games themselves, the Warrior Girls will provide fans with a unique and inside look at the dance team.
Several members of the Warrior Girls recently traveled to Japan to teach a few dance clinics and perform at Japanese Professional Basketball League contests. While traveling abroad, Warrior Girl Yoshimi agreed to document her experiences for the Warriors Blog Squad.Part 1 | Part 2
Thursday, May 27 (4:18 p.m.)
Wrapping Up Our Trip To Japan
On May 22, we had a big breakfast at another western style restaurant in order to have plenty of energy for an upcoming dance clinic with kids and our performance at the games later that day. It is amazing and interesting that so many Japanese people eat raw eggs and many like their omlettes with half-cooked eggs. However, for my teammates, I had to tell the chef to cook them well done!
We arrived at Ariake Coliseum before noon and had to rehearse for eight (8) different songs (our Warrior Girls dance performance) in 15 minutes. Immediately after that, we held a dance clinic with local kids. We only had about 40 minutes to teach dance, set and rehearsal, so as soon as we were introduced and took a few pictures, we started teaching in three groups the kids were scheduled to perform with us an hour prior to tip-off.
Throughout the trip, the Warrior Girls conducted several dance clinics in Japan for kids of all ages. (warriors.com photo)
The kids were great. I was so amazed at how well the participants were performing even though they learned the counts and movement in English. I thought they were very strong at copying our movements and memorizing our choreographed routines. And, more than that, they were very excited about leaning from official NBA dancers such as the Warrior Girls and, therefore, did their best to learn from us and follow our instructions. We did not have enough time to run over the rehearsal many times, but I explained (in Japanese) to all of the participants that if they follow the Warrior Girls and do the same movements every time, it will turn out great once we get on the floor.
This was probably our busiest day of the tour. After a little rest time, we had to get ready for our opening performance and went back to the place where the kids were located and waiting for us. We did a final rehearsal with the kids one last time before we were to get on the court. Everyone was talking, excited and nervous because it was right before our performance. It was hard to concentrate and to make sure everyone was together, but most of the kids were doing a really good job and listening well. That helped a lot.
The Warrior Girls had opening performance at the first game. After the public address announcer introduced us, the fans at the Ariake Coliseum gave us a big, warm, loud cheer, just as they did on our visit last year. It was special.
After our initial solo performance, we had our performance with the kids and it went perfect! I was relieved and had the happiest feeling for the kids. It was so much fun and I could not believe how good their performance was after we practiced less than one hour. On that same day at the games, we also had two performances with other dance clinic participants and two more solo performances by the Warrior Girls. We had a blast.
It was a very long day from the morning through the night, but all my friends who saw our performance at the coliseum said they really enjoyed watching our exciting NBA dance routines. They told me they loved the energy that we display in our dance.
On the second day of the Final Four, May 23, we went shopping at the Odaiba District (lots of shopping malls and an amusement park) before the games were scheduled to start. Girls love to shop!
Actually, this would be the last day for our stay in Tokyo. After the games were over, our trip and responsibilities would be complete. The trip went so fast.
The team's second trip to Japan in as many years resulted in a positive experience for everyone involved, especially the Warrior Girls. (warriors.com photo)
During the two games on the final day (third place game and the championship game), we had a total of five dance performances. My friends told me they were really moved by our performances and were amazed the way we dance with so much expression and incredible energy. I also know that everyone was very happy to see a different dance style in Japan and really enjoyed the opportunity to see an NBA dance team up close and personal. I was extremely grateful to hear many positive comments and reviews from the fans and I am sure the people who watched our performances fed off our strong energy and smiles. I think we touched a lot of people.
Prior to our journey to Tokyo, my teammates who traveled with us to Japan last year talked about how the Japanese are such hard workers. The girls left with the same impression this year. They were amazed at how quickly the kids and students were able to pick up the material at the clinics.
I’m extremely thankful to everyone who supported us and made the trip to Japan possible this year. It was a great learning experience (Japanese culture, language, etc.) for not only my teammates on the Warrior Girls, but for everyone involved.
We returned home on Monday. Now, it’s time to get focused on the upcoming Warrior Girl Auditions (July 24-25) and another successful season!
Several members of the Warrior Girls recently traveled to Japan to teach a few dance clinics and perform at Japanese Professional Basketball League contests. While traveling abroad, Warrior Girl Yoshimi agreed to document her experiences for the Warriors Blog Squad.Part 1 | Part 3
Thursday, May 27 (9:33 a.m.)
Getting Ready For The Final Four
We were greeted with another early wake-up call on May 21. This time, we had to get ready for another newspaper interview and an appearance at a press conference for the bj-league (Japanese Basketball League) Final 4.
This particular newspaper took pictures of us at the park. The paper was from Kouto-ku District, where there are a lot of business/office workers and a place where they have nice, old traditional streets and homes (shitamachi area). It is natural for me, but for my teammates, it was interesting for them to see the different living style from the U.S.
The Warrior Girls did some promotional work at a press conference for the Japanase League Final Four. (warriors.com photo)
Before the press conference, we went to a convenience store to get lunch. I knew every time my teammates went to the store they could find a different food, portion and other interesting stuff. I was really happy that everyone was trying new things and seemed to be enjoying those items.
We arrived at Ariake Coliseum a little early for the press conference, which was held to promote the Final Four that we were scheduled to perform (dance) at on May 22-23. We had a chance to meet the head coaches from each of the four teams (Osaka, Hamamatsu, Okinawa and Niigata) and then took part in the press conference. My teammates introduced themselves in Japanese again and I noticed that their pronunciations were getting much better and their Japanese much more fluent. I was surprised! The media at the event really liked the fact that the Warrior Girls were speaking in Japanese. It is not easy to learn. I was so happy that I could teach my mother language and that my teammates tried to remember what I told them and use it whenever possible. It is a great cultural learning experience and exchange for all of us.
The Warrior Girls taught a routine to kids just hours before performing it during the Final Four. (warriors.com photo)
Later that evening, we had our second dance clinic. I was so excited because my friends from my previous dance team in Japan were involved in the clinic. And, everyone was practicing so hard, just as they were the day before. We did three different rehearsals, but then they wanted to practice two more times in order to have more confidence. They wanted to be perfect (they were scheduled to dance with us at the bj-league Final Four).
After the clinics were over, our captain, Leah, told all of the participants how good they were and congratulated them for a great job and for their effort. I could certainly tell that all of the participants were pleased to hear those comments from NBA dancers, who they really admire.
Several members of the Warrior Girls recently traveled to Japan to teach a few dance clinics and perform at Japanese Professional Basketball League contests. While traveling abroad, Warrior Girl Yoshimi agreed to document her experiences for the Warriors Blog Squad.Part 2 | Part 3
Wednesday, May 26 (11:28 a.m.)
The International Intrigue Of The Warrior Girls
After much anticipation, six Warrior Girls, including myself, left San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday, May 18 around 1 p.m. for the long flight to Japan. Our Japan Tour II, in conjunction with the NBA and the Japanese Final Four, had officially started.
From left to right, the Warrior Girls participating in this year's trip to Japan were Natalie, Kelsey, Casey, Leah, Christi and Yoshimi. (warriors.com photo)
We arrived at Narita International Airport on May 19 in late afternoon. Japan is 16 hours ahead of California time (so it was around midnight in San Francisco). We were all so excited to land in Japan and begin our tour. We could hear a lot of Japanese – not much English! – and we could easily find Japanese characters (ex. Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana) everywhere. The month of May is the beautiful in Japan. Everything is green, the temperatures are perfect and it’s just the most comfortable season of the year.
It took two hours to get to our hotel in Tokyo by bus from Narita, but we eventually checked in to the Hyatt Regency in Nishi-Shinjyuku District. After getting settled, we went to a restaurant, ZEST, in Ebisu, and joined the NBA viewing party where we helped raffle gifts. At the party, each of us introduced ourselves and greeted our teammates in Japanese (example: Hello = Konnichiwa. How do you do? = Hajimemashite, etc.). The fans loved it and we were happy to spend time with the great fans.
I was so excited to go back to Japan, my home country, with my teammates. I asked my fellow Warrior Girls about their first impressions of Tokyo and they thought the city is very clean, the people are kind and everything is so close and busy! I was thinking that I had to try and teach them as much as I possibly could while we were in Japan because they usually help me when I am in the United States.
On the second day of our trip, May 20, we all woke up quite early, even though we had an event the previous night and went to bed late. We were just so excited about staying in Tokyo together and did not want to miss any of the fun events. The lack of sleep did not bother us. We enjoyed a western style breakfast at the hotel to begin the day.
The Warrior Girls had no shortage of fun during their recent trip to Japan. (warriors.com photo)
In the morning, we had a little time for sightseeing in Asakusa. This area is the most traditional district in Tokyo and there are a lot of Japanese souvenir stores where they sell Kimono, Sensu (fan), swords and other items. We enjoyed shopping and went to Senso-ji, which is oldest temple in Tokyo.
Following the visit to the temple, we had two interviews scheduled with local Japanese newspapers. A photographer from the newspaper took a photo of us and, while the cameraman was shooting pictures, they requested us to pose in Japanese. I needed to explain in English to my teammates what they were looking for and that they wanted us to change our pose and movement. Just a difference in culture.
During the interview, they asked us “How would you like to appeal to the fans in Japan?” We answered that we were looking forward to showing our strong hip-hop dance style and that we would do our best to entertain the Japanese fans. And, of course, all the interviewers were interested to know what my teammates thought about Japan. They spoke about how the people were so kind, helpful and that they were looking forward to this new experience in another country like Japan. I was glad to hear those comments.
Later that evening, we had a dance clinic for high school students and adults. We introduced ourselves and began the warm-ups, then split into two groups where we each taught one routine. During the dance clinic, I occasionally tried to help the students in Japanese (language) if they did not understand English too well. I thought it was a great experience for participants to learn dance in English and certainly they were excited about the unusual situation and a chance to learn a new language.
I was really impressed at how hard all of the participants worked and their ability to pick things up was pretty good. They were using every spare minute to dance and practice, which means their water breaks were really short. It was raining on this particular day and it was very humid inside of the gym. We went through rehearsal several times until the participants felt comfortable. We had a great time with all of them!.
After the dance clinic, we went back to the hotel. We were pretty tired, but we still had enough energy to go out for more exploring. A few of us went to Gyudon Restaurant and a little later we went to do a little Karaoke. In Japan, Karaoke is usually in a separate room from other groups and you can order drinks and food as well. We all really enjoyed singing for an hour.
When I looked at warriors.com after auditioning for the Warrior Girls back in 2006 and found that they offered me a position on the squad, it was the most exciting feeling I’ve ever felt. I thought I knew what to expect after dancing on my high school team and proceeding to dance for Saint Mary’s College. I expected it to be just like any other team – a group of girls who perform and join together in their love of dance and their love of the game. Boy was I wrong!!
This experience surpassed any expectation I could have ever imagined. As Warrior Girls, we partake in fundraisers, non-profit organizations, and travel internationally to perform and act as ambassadors for the NBA. This is my fourth season as a Warrior Girl and each year has gotten better and better. I think my teammates and I would agree that “tickets” to every home game are one of the biggest perks, however, every minute dedicated to this job is well worth the hard work we put into it! It has been a dream come true to be able to dance as a Warrior Girl and with that being said, we need the help of our amazing fans!
The annual NBA Dance Team Bracket is back again. This is a single-elimination tournament to crown the fans’ favorite NBA Dance Team of 2010. On Monday, we, the Warrior Girls, will be facing the Honeybees, the dance team of the New Orleans Hornets, in the first round of the tournament. Please cast your votes by clicking here on Monday, beginning at 11 a.m. Voting runs through 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and the winning team is determined solely by fan voting. This tournament is very important to the members of our dance team. It’s a way for us to join in a little cheerleader competition. (No, not like the Bring It On movies!)
While we praise other dance teams for doing things similar to us, we also know that there is no team like the Warrior Girls! Not only are we a talented and hard-working group of girls, but the thing that sets us apart is that we are more like a family than a dance team. Warriors fans continue to grace Oracle Arena with their presence through ups and downs of the game through their loyalty to the team. Now, we ask that you spread that loyalty to your Warrior Girls!
Friday, December 18 (3:36 p.m.)
'Tis The Season by Thera
This year's Holiday Season will be a special one for Warrior Girl Thera. (photo: Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty)
The Holidays are here! Christmastime has always been my favorite season (along with basketball, of course). It’s the time of giving, good spirits, and spending time with loved ones. I am especially excited because my grandparents, who usually travel to the Philippines during the winter time, have decided to stay here for the first time in six years. This also means they will finally get a chance to come see a game and their granddaughter perform on the court! They’re not used to the cold weather so I’m sure some sweatshirts from the Warriors Team Store will make the perfect present.
Speaking of presents, it has been so rewarding to be a part of the Warriors organization. They have done a wonderful job with giving back to the community and some of the girls have been able to participate in the Warriors Season of Giving. What can be more enjoyable than listening to Natalie read, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”? From handing out family gift baskets and opening new reading centers for children to just being able to spend time with those in need, it’s always a joy to spread the holiday cheer.
Also, if you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet, get to know the girls through our new and improved Warrior Girls web page right here on warriors.com. There, you will find a new layout which includes bios, photo galleries and videos, plus our new desktop wallpaper, a behind-the-scenes look at our swimsuit calendar photo shoot and more! I absolutely love the new Warrior Girl video profiles. Be sure to check back frequently to see who is the latest Warrior Girl to be in the spotlight!
We’re just about a third into the season and Christmas is just around the corner. With all the time spent together, the Warrior Girls have really gotten a chance to bond like sisters. This year, Alexis arranged an amazing WG Holiday Weekend in Half Moon Bay! With a special holiday dinner and a Secret Santa/Sister gift exchange on our agenda, you would think we’d be sick of each other! But, like I said… it’s the season to spend quality time with the ones you love.
As I flipped through the calendar for the first time, I was utterly amazed with how it turned out. Looking at each of my teammate’s photos, I began to reflect on the 2010 Warrior Girls Swimsuit Calendar photo shoot. I know Alexis did a wonderful job summarizing it in the prior blog entry, but I figured I’d add my two cents and give you a rookie’s prospective. Hope you enjoy …
From the first day of practice, we were preparing for the 2010 Calendar. We were all very excited about the opportunity but knew it was going to take weeks and weeks of hard work and preparation because we all wanted to look our very best! Our preparation included absolutely insane workouts that left every muscle in our bodies aching. John, our trainer, quickly noticed that the more he mentioned the calendar shoot, the harder we pushed ourselves. As the weeks flew by and the workouts became more intense, we grew excited about the calendar shoot and were anxious to know when and where we’d be shooting.
Not knowing what to expect, the rookies were perhaps more nervous than most as our shoot dates were announced. But as it turned out, this year’s shoot was going to be a new experience for everyone. For the first time, the team was split into four separate groups and assigned to different locations around the Bay Area. I was excited to hear that I would be shooting poolside at the beautiful Hotel Los Gatos and could not wait to get started. Luckily for me and my nerves, my group just so happened to be the first to shoot so I didn’t have to wait long before the big day arrived.
At 4 a.m. on the day of the shoot, Kimberly and I carpooled over to the hotel. We were both so excited for our first professional photo shoot that the time of day had no effect on our energy level. We arrived on site long before the sun rose and met with our hair and makeup artists. They were fantastic and it was great to start the day off with a team of professionals whose number one priority was to make us look our absolute best.
The Warrior Girls celebrated the release of their swimsuit calendar with a pair of autograph signings. View Photo Gallery
While anxiously waiting for my turn by the pool, I remember walking over to the hotel window and peaking down at Leah as she was shooting in the courtyard. As I watched her pose for the camera, butterflies tickled my stomach – taking professional photos is a very different experience than performing well-rehearsed routines on a basketball court. Would I know how to move or where to look?
As the sun rose over the Hotel Los Gatos, it was finally my turn. I walked out by the pool and met the photography team for the first time. After introductions and a few poolside poses, I was taken completely by surprise and asked to get into the pool! The water was ice cold, and the photographer wanted me and my hair to be wet for the rest of the photos — I can’t say I was happy about this turn of events. I was apprehensive but wasn’t about to argue with the professionals so I jumped right in. Within a few minutes my teeth were chattering so much I could barely hold still for the camera. I was freezing cold. I wasn’t sure how my photos were turning out; however, the response from the photographer was positive and his energy was both encouraging and reassuring. After a few minutes I got used to the cold and was completely focused on the photographer and camera. By the time I got out of the pool I felt like I had definitely taken some great, albeit soaking-wet photos. I guess I didn’t mind the cold water if it meant taking great shots!
After my shoot had ended, I had the chance to watch Kimberly and Christi during their shoot. They both looked so beautiful and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this calendar is going to turn out great!” At the end of the shoot, I left Hotel Los Gatos feeling satisfied and grateful to have been part of such a unique experience.
When the time came to finally reveal our calendar photos, it was evident that all our hard work and preparation had paid off. We were all so excited to reveal our pictures to the public and best of all, our fans were just as excited to see the 2010 Warrior Girls Calendar as we were! If you weren't able to make it out to the game, you can still can puchase a calendar by clicking here.
I feel so lucky to have shared this experience with such a beautiful and talented group of girls and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Thursday, November 19 (11:54 a.m.)
Behind The Scenes Of The Warrior Girls Swimsuit Calendar Photo Shoot
Now that the season has begun, we’ve been keeping busy with all sorts of things. Along with learning more choreography for our game-day routines, we recently had our photo shoots for the annual swimsuit calendar and warriors.com.
This year’s calendar shoot was quite unique when compared with past seasons. Instead of the team shooting in one location, we were split up in groups and photographed in four different locations across the Bay Area, including Hotel Los Gatos in Los Gatos, Waterfront Hotel in Oakland, Hotel Vitale in San Francisco and the Waters Edge Hotel in Tiburon.
Because we were all split up, we weren’t able to see most of the other girls’ shots so this year, the Calendar Release Party on Saturday, December 5 will be extra special for us. Not only will it be the first time we see the other shots and the calendar itself, but it will also be the first time we see our own pictures!
Get a sneak peak of the calendar in the videos below, and check out a behind-the-scenes photo gallery of the photo shoot by clicking here!
We’re hoping to have a great turnout of Warriors fans at our Calendar Release Party, and for one low price of $35, fans can get a calendar, a ticket to the Warriors-Magic game on Dec. 5 and admission to the Calendar Release Party. In addition, all of my teammates and I will be available to sign autographs beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Club 200. On behalf of my teammates, we hope to see you there!
This past week we took even more pictures! We had our warriors.com photo shoot at Oracle Arena this year. Once again, we were split up into groups to make sure that the rookies had a veteran to help them because for most of them, the only other photo shoot they’ve ever done was for the calendar! As usual, our make-up and hair team (otherwise known as the Glam Squad) were on point and did a fabulous job at making us feel comfortable and ready to be photographed! We can't wait to see the new Web site in the coming weeks.
Overall, we’ve had a very smooth start to the 2009-2010 season. It could be luck, it could be chance, or it could be simple fact that this is the most talented group of girls I have ever worked with! We have been blessed with rookies that have an unbelievable work ethic and veterans who have stepped up their game and become leaders. On and off the court we have a blast together! We hope everyone enjoys the Holiday season! See you at the game!
Friday, September 18 (3:36 p.m.)
Last Days In Italy by Thera
In addition to performing, the Warrior Girls conducted interviews at the NBA Jam Van Tour in Italy. (warriors.com photo)
After a couple of days of sightseeing, it was back to work with the NBA Jam Van Tour. Unlike in Fidenza, the Jam Van was scheduled to be in Siena for only one day. It was planned for us to leave for Milan immediately after our second appearance – the Jam Van Tour would move on to Madrid – so we needed to bring all of our luggage to the venue. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t have enough time to explore the city; a great interest to me because its known to be one of the fashion capitals of the world. I guess we’ll just have to plan another trip to do so.
It was just a 10-minute drive from our hotel to the venue. It’s amazing how skillful the drivers are as we watched them weave through the extremely narrow cobblestoned streets of Siena. Every thing was set up exactly the same as it was in Fidenza, except I noticed the crowd was a little bit older in age this time. Perhaps it was because it was also the first day of school for a lot of children that day.
A press conference was held immediately after our arrival and we had the privilege to meet Ferdinando Minucci, the president of the Montepaschi Siena (the Euroleague Basketball team of Siena, Italy). He was a very kind man who showed much appreciation for our presence.
Leah and Thera spotted a true Warriors fan in the heart of Italy. (warriors.com photo)
It was another successful day with the tour and a great conclusion to our 10-day trip. So many memories were created with six of my best friends. From performing in Italy and meeting fans from across the world, to walking the streets filled with history and seeing the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa, this will surely be another unforgettable chapter in each of our lives.
In addition to everything that has been shared, something very unexpected happened during our time in Italy. While having a mid-afternoon cappuccino, we spotted a man passing by wearing last season’s “Opening Night” T-shirt. It’s hard to miss when you’re wearing a color like Warriors Gold. He had also traveled from San Francisco and was proud to represent his favorite basketball team. How exciting it was to meet a true fan!
We are all very eager for this upcoming season and cannot wait to see you all there on October 28th, when the Warriors kick off the season against Houston Rockets!
Tuesday, September 15 (2:28 p.m.)
A Full Day Of Sightseeing by Alexis
The Warrior Girls have been trying to squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible during their trip to Italy. (warriors.com photo)
After a three-hour drive to Siena, we arrived yesterday at the Hotel Athena. We were pretty eager to explore so we quickly checked in, dropped our luggage, and headed for the square. The hotel is situated in the heart of the historical center of Siena and is only a few blocks from the main Cathedral. After a quick bite of pizza (of course), we paid 6 Euros to enter and tour the Santa Maria Assunta (Most Holy Mary of Assumption). The interior of the church was extraordinary! The sculptures, patterns and overall detail of the architecture was quintessential of an Italian Cathedral – absolutely stunning.
Today we had a full day off so we definitely took advantage of the sightseeing around Siena. We left at 9 a.m. for a two-hour drive to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa! No matter how many times you see it in travel and history books, the tower is still a sight to see and certainly looks like it could topple down any second! Also in the Piazza dei Miracoli is the Duomo, which is another Cathedral we toured. Once again, another picturesque church in Italy and a very special place.
Thera had some fun posing for photos at the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (warriors.com photo)
At 1 p.m. we left Pisa and drove one hour to Florence, or as the Italians call it, Firenze. We walked around, shopped, and did some site seeing. So far, Florence has been my favorite city on this trip. It is very busy and packed with people from all over the world. Before we left, our driver drove us on top of a hill so we could see the city from a lookout. With the sun setting behind the old buildings, we took our pictures and said goodbye!
We covered a lot of ground in one day! Tomorrow will be our last day performing at the Jam Van event and we are looking forward to giving another great performance and a taste of the Golden State Warriors! After the event we will travel to Milan for our last night in Italy!
More to come...
Saturday, September 12 (6:27 a.m.)
Performing In Italy by Thera
PARMA, Italy – I was amazed by how easy it was to fall asleep the first night we were here, knowing our friends and family back home were just finishing up lunch. Maybe the long day of traveling had something to do with our exhaustion.
Each morning in Parma, an authentic complimentary Italian breakfast was waiting for us downstairs in the dining room. With assorted fruits, yogurt, toast with Nutella and a great selection of pastries, my favorite part of breakfast was the self-serve espresso machine. It felt so appropriate to start our first mornings in Italy with a nice cappuccino.
The Warrior Girls were anxious about the reaction they would get from the Italian fans at the NBA Jam Van Europe Tour. (warriors.com photo)
After practice, it was time to head to the NBA Jam Van. It was only a 10-minute car ride to where the event was taking place. As we first arrived in the parking lot of Fidenza Village (an outlet mall), we could see the 45-foot fold-out bus surrounded by a large crowd of people and our excitement grew inside of all of us. We were told by Louisa it is uncommon for girls in Italy to do what we do, so I was interested in seeing what the reaction would be when we presented ourselves.
Even after the exceptional experiences in China (October 2008) and Japan (earlier this summer) with the dance team, Italy was a new country with new people and I was hoping for nothing but to give a great first impression.
“The Warrior Girls!”
We all ran out onto the stage, performed a dance routine, had a mini interview, performed another routine, then sat down behind a table to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. The language barrier made it hard to converse with the crowd, but a smile was definitely universal.
The Warrior Girls performed in Fidenza and Siena during the NBA Jam Van Europe Tour. (warriors.com photo)
Each day, we were asked to perform the same sequence twice. In between, we were able to explore the outlets and grab dinner. I knew people raved about the food in Italy and so far it has definitely lived up to its expectations. The pasta, pizza, paninis and gelato were all to die for! But, because we were in Parma, nothing compared to their specialty; Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese). It is probably the most imitated cheese in the world, but because of its location of origin, it is impossible to successfully duplicate.
I definitely had to purchase a few vacuumed packed blocks of cheese to bring home and share with my family.
We have a few more days here in Parma and then we are off to Siena; a city filled with history, culture, and more delicious food!
Until next time …
Seven Warrior Girls recently traveled to Italy to participate in the NBA Jam Van Europe Tour. While traveling abroad, Warrior Girls Alexis and Thera agreed to document their travels for the Warriors Blog Squad.
Friday, September 11 (5:17 p.m.)
Best Birthday Ever
PARMA, Italy – After a long day of traveling we finally made it here to Parma, Italy! We flew from SFO to Atlanta, had a quick stop for a big lunch at T.G.I. Friday's in the Atlanta airport (yum), then landed in Milan this morning around 10 a.m. Not a bad way to celebrate a 23rd birthday, right? September 9, 2009 (09/09/09), my Golden Birthday in the beautiful country of Italy with six of my best friends!
It took three airports and two flights, but the Warrior Girls couldn't be happier to be happier to have arrived in Italy. (warriors.com photo)
We were greeted by a sign that read, "Warriors Dance Team" by our host Louisa, who escorted us back to the city of Parma, where we are currently staying at the The Hotel Parma & Congressi. Within an hour of arriving at the hotel, we were already eating ravioli and spaghetti prepared by the hotel's chef.
The Warrior Girls couldn't get enough pizza during their trip to Italy. (warriors.com photo)
After we ate, we hopped in a taxi to head to the bank Cariparma Credit Agricole to exchange our American dollars for Euros – a little rip off if I say so myself, ha! When we got back to the hotel, we had to practice to get ready to dance at tomorrow's NBA Jam Van event in the city of Fidenza.
This evening, we went downtown to a restaurant called La Duchessa for wine and pizza, followed by some perfect Italian gelato! The downtown area is exactly how we pictured Italy. We loved the cobblestone narrow streets, the big churches, and all of the different cafes and restaurants. Needless to say, we can't wait to continue exploring the history and culture of this town!
It took a total of 20 hours from SFO to the hotel, and it was absolutely worth the wait! We are all so excited for the Jam Van event. We are excited to perform and give the Italians a taste of the Golden State Warriors!
More blogs to come! Stay tuned ...
Tuesday, June 23 (12:19 p.m.)
The Final Four In Japan by Thera
The Warrior Girls performed several times during the BJ-League's Final Four. (photo: AFLO Sports)
One of our biggest jobs as a Warrior Girl is to provide entertainment to the fans at all the home games. With practices three times a week, a lot of preparation goes into each time we perform at a game. I absolutely love the energy we get from the crowd each time we step onto the court. Being in Japan, it was our chance to show what we do best in another country. It was down to “The Final Four” championships of the BJ-League Playoffs and the Warrior Girls were invited to be a part of it all.
The first Japanese Professional Basketball League came to fruition in November, 2005 with six teams. At the end of a 120-game season that year, Osaka Evessa became the very first BJ-League champions. Now, the BJ-League has expanded into 12 teams divided into two conferences; Eastern and Western, and each team plays a total of 52 games. What I like about the BJ-League playoffs is that "The Final 4" is held at one location. This eliminates the concept of “home court advantage.” But, all games are played in the same arena one after another by single-elimination format.
At 8:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, we all met in the lobby of the Tokyo Dome Hotel to leave for the Ariake Coliseum (originally designed to be the Wimbledon of Tokyo). We all had attended a press conference with the coaches of the Final Four teams (Tokyo, Hamamatsu, Osaka and Okinawa) at the Coliseum the day before, so we were slightly familiar with where we were supposed to go when we arrived. One interesting fact I learned during that conference was that the coach of the Tokyo Apache team was none other than the father of Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant; Joe Bryant. In fact, one of the BJ-League representatives shared with us that Kobe was named after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan.
As we entered our locker room, we were happily welcomed by two tables full of snacks. I must say, the Petit Kit Kats were the cutest things ever! The BJ-League had graciously posted a very detailed run-down of our schedule for the day on the wall. After noticing the schedule did not end until our 7:40 p.m. performance with the Dance Clinic participants, it was our 11:45 a.m. call-time to practice on court. Boy, were we in for a busy day.
I’ll always remember the very first time I walked onto the court of ORACLE Arena. I had my camcorder in hand to remember that moment in my life. For years I sat in the stands, entertained by those on the court and on that day, I was transformed from the one being entertained, to the one entertaining. From that day on, every home game reminded me of that moment, but never as clearly as it did the day we walked on the court of the Ariake Coliseum.
The Warrior Girls' trip to Japan was memorable for both the on-the-court and off-the-court experiences. (warriors.com photo)
I was fortunate enough to travel with the team to Guangzhou and Beijing, China to perform at two of our pre-season games last year. Although those were two new arenas to me, I felt a little more connected with the audience in Tokyo. Maybe it was because Shania’s grandmother’s good friends were watching her dance for the very first time, or knowing that the Japanese intern we had been working with will be performing for the first time in front of all her friends and family with an NBA dance team. Yet, it is also very possible to feel more connected with the audience because my brother had moved to Japan three years ago and was going to be attending the games.
We walked through the hallways and down a few stairs, and found colorful lights beaming through the tunnel. As we slowly entered the arena, the lights added a dramatic effect to our first impression of the coliseum. At that moment, I felt like an international superstar. One of the dance teams of the Final Four was scheduled to practice on the court before us and as they danced, the colored lights were used to make it more like a concert. We weren’t going to be just “A Great Time Out,” here; we were going to put on an unbelievable 90-second concert.
As we watched the other dance team finish up their rehearsal, I noticed the two major things that made this arena feel so new and different. First of all, the Ariake Coliseum still seemed very large, but it only sat 15,000 people (Oracle Arena has a maximum occupancy of 19,200, plus 72 luxury suites). Secondly, the flooring of the court was completely different from the hardwood in Oakland. After some research, I found it was made of small, grey-colored pieces of Polypropylene (read more on that by clicking here. Although the flooring was slightly shock absorbent, it didn’t affect our dancing. During our quick rehearsal, I almost forgot we were overseas. For 10 minutes, we were so focused on practicing; it felt like home.
In addition to the dance clinics for the older participants that we hosted on the previous days, two more were scheduled for the younger kids. Prior to each first game of the day, three groups of children (separated by age) were given 45 minutes to learn a routine they would perform during the pre-game festivities. We definitely underestimated the talent in Japan. Even at a very young age, the participants were very disciplined! They picked up the dance moves so quickly I was worried it might have been too easy!
Once we finished up with the kids, it was time to get ourselves ready. After each of us Warrior Girls had gotten dressed and our make-up done, we found ourselves waiting in the tunnel for our cue. It was time for our BJ-League debut! The announcer was speaking in Japanese but we knew when to run out when he said, “...Warrior Girls!”
Thera (right) was proud to see Yoshimi (left) receive such a warm ovation from the crowd. (photo: AFLO Sports)
What a crowd! From the moment we stepped onto the court, the cheering did not stop. After we performed, each girl was individually introduced to the fans. One by one, we waved to the audience as each name was called. A special introduction was made for Yoshimi, our Japanese intern. This was a big day for her. When her name was announced, I felt an abundance of inspiration. After much hard work and training, we were finally sharing the “stage.”
Because the playoffs were taking place at a neutral location, each team brought their own dance team. It must have been a field day for Game Operations! Every game is set up like a big production. So much work goes on behind the scenes and the games in Japan were no different. With three dance teams, our WG Dance Clinic participants, and all the sponsors, there was never a dull moment.
After Day 1 of games, Okinawa and Tokyo were moving on to the finals. As we cleaned up our locker room, each dance team came in to visit. It was our little meet and greet session. Tokyo actually has a second dance team of younger kids who would be the equivalent of our Jr. Jam Squad. A few of them performed a short dance sequence for us because we didn’t get a chance to watch them during the game. I was definitely most impressed by them.
It had been a long day. We were exhausted but knew we had to do it all over again.
We met at 8:45 a.m. again the next day, and we were all prepared for another long, but exciting day. When we arrived, we went to the locker room, practiced on court, danced with the children and then got dressed and ready for the games. At the end of the day, Okinawa came on top, but for me, the best part was still to come. My brother had invited five of his friends to come with him and watch the games. It was now their turn to come visit the locker room.
It was wonderful to see him and have him see how much I have grown since he moved. It meant so much when I discovered he attended his first BJ-League game because I was going to be there. What better way to end this trip than with one of my most memorable moments.
Reflecting back on this amazing journey, I am incredibly thankful for it. I love being able to reach out in the community and share what I love to do with others. Now, my community has extended internationally. Thank you.
Thursday, June 18 (4:01 p.m.)
Japan's Got Talent by Thera
Thera enjoys being a role model for aspiring dancers of all ages. (warriors.com photo)
What I love about being a Warrior Girl is that it puts me in a position where I can be a positive role model in my community. When we host WG Dance Clinics, it gives people a chance to not only learn from professional dancers and perform on the NBA court, but it is also an opportunity for them to meet us and learn that we are fun, down-to-earth girls. How exciting was it when we were asked to host two clinics in Japan?
Before our first dance clinic, five girls were chosen to attend an interview about our trip to Japan. It was our moment to express our appreciation for being there as well as explain our intentions and expectations of our visit. We wanted to help promote professional basketball in Japan, but we were also very excited to share with others what we love to do and inspire those who share the same passion.
As we were walked through a building of a newspaper company, I felt slightly intimidated when we were finally led to an empty room containing a long table with a row of six empty seats. But once the interview began, we could not stop expressing our excitement for the trip. It was especially exciting for us to see Yoshimi be a part of this process. She was our prime example of someone pursuing her dreams to become a professional dancer.
The Dance clinics were held in a high school gym. One of the classrooms was set up as a mini-WG headquarters. It was where we could do our hair, make-up and review a few dances. I loved the group of boys watching us through the windows. They especially had a liking toward Leah. I’m sure a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl doesn’t come around too often.
With blond hair and blue eyes, Leah was perhaps the most popular Warrior Girl in Japan. (warriors.com photo)
After Yoshimi was interviewed by one of the most popular anchors in Japan, we all went upstairs to their gym. In Japan, it is custom to have separate indoor and outdoor shoes. This I didn’t figure out until the second dance clinic! Two wet towels were placed on the floor for the Americans to wipe their shoes on because they were told we do not change shoes. But, no one was given direction to do so before entering and when I saw the two towels on the ground, it didn’t occur to me to wipe the bottoms of shoes. It was instinct for me (and everyone else) to step over them! I’m sure they wondered why the towels were so clean after the first clinic.
Everyone looked so excited when we walked into the gym. With a small applause from the group of participants in the middle of the room, each Warrior Girl entered and lined up in the front to welcome all the attendees to the clinic. After a small introduction, we stretched everyone out and performed the dances we were planning to teach. Everyone seemed to want to learn the same routine so we started the clinic off by teaching one large group.
I was so impressed by the talent! While there were a few participants who had a hard time learning the dance, there were also a few that were amazingly great! I was especially impressed by how well they picked up even after the language barrier! I’m sure a lot of them learned a few English words, and I would be surprised if they could not count up to eight after the clinic. Three words I learned in Japanese: “Atsui” meaning “hot”, “kawaii” meaning “cute,” and “muzukashii” meaning “difficult.”
The dance clinics in Japan took much of the same format as the Warrior Girl clinics back home. (warriors.com photo)
After the whole routine was taught, we split the group into smaller, more intimate groups. This gave me a chance to get to know a few of the participants on a more personal level. A few girls were extremely shy, but I tried my best to help them feel more comfortable around us. How could someone feel intimidated by little ol’ me? I find laughter to be the best tool to loosen up the nerves. Trust me, if you can’t laugh with me, I’m sure you can probably laugh at me.
Just like the WG Dance Clinics we host back home, our director Susan Hovey recorded the routines and e-mailed videos to the participants so they could practice on their own time. Boy, did they practice! Maybe it is in the Japanese culture to be very disciplined and diligent because not one girl looked like she didn’t practice.
We held our second dance clinic in the same location the next day. Half of the participants were girls who attended the first clinic and we spent some time cleaning up their routine, but there wasn’t much to clean! It’s hard to believe that the participants were able to impress us even more after the first day but they did! Because of their hard work, we were able to teach them a few more routines.
I find teaching very rewarding and as a Warrior Girl, I find myself with many opportunities to be a mentor to others. I love being able to teach those something I love to do and then see their interpretation of it. Sometimes, like in this case, it turns out better than I imagine!
Near the end of our second clinic, Susan filmed the new dance routine and later e-mailed it to the participants. After seeing how well the first group of girls did after one night’s practice, I was very excited to see the end results of the second group. I knew we had nothing to worry about. Because of their hard-working attitude, the dance clinic participants were sure to put on a great show during the games in the upcoming days. Watch out, Japan’s got talent!!!
Several members of the Warrior Girls recently traveled to Japan to teach a few dance clinics and perform at Japanese Professional Basketball League contests. While traveling abroad, Warrior Girl Thera agreed to document her experiences for the Warriors Blog Squad, presented by Kia Motors.
Tuesday, June 16 (2:47 p.m.)
A Day Of Travel by Thera
Thera and Leah couldn't wait to board their flight to Tokyo. (warriors.com photo)
After much preparation, the day had finally come. It was the day seven Warrior Girls and their director were traveling overseas to inspire others and share their style of dance on the other side of the Pacific, in Japan.
At 9:30am, everyone met at SFO to check in at United Airlines for a trip of a lifetime. Because of the new weight rule of checked in luggage, we had to be smart with what and how we packed. Lucky for Cristina, we were allowed two free bags to check in.
Our flight was delayed a little, but all it did was make each of us more anxious for the trip. On a Boeing 747, we were fortunate enough to all be sitting next to each other. We knew it would make the plane ride go by so much faster. As you will learn, we never run out of things to talk about.
After a grueling 10 hours and 50 minutes filled with two meals, four movies and numerous amounts of conversation, we finally touched ground in Narita, Japan. But, our time in the plane wasn't over. Because of the frenzy surrounding the H1N1 influenza (swine flu), Japan was taking extra precautions for every passenger entering the country. Each traveler was required to fill out a health form and go through their quarantine inspection. As health inspectors reviewed each passenger’s form, another inspector was walking through the aisles with a handheld machine I had never seen before. This machine was actually a contraption used to measure each person’s temperature. It was my first time encountering such innovative technology!
Each of the Warrior Girls sported the highly sought-after face mask upon departing the plane. (warriors.com photo)
Finally, after another half-hour sitting in the plane, each of us passed the quarantine inspection and was given all a small gift. It was something very high in demand and in a few countries they were even sold out! But, lucky for us, we each got one for free – the infamous face masks!
But our day of travel was still not over! After unloading from the 747, picking up our luggage and reuniting with Yoshimi (our Japanese Warrior Girl intern who opened the door to this amazing opportunity), an hour and a half bus ride to our hotel in Tokyo still awaited.
Because I was with a group of my closest friends, it was hard to believe we were more than 5,000 miles away from home. With the amount of fun we have with each other, it still felt like home. But, as I looked out the window of the bus, it was quite obvious that we weren’t in the Bay Area anymore. The street signs written in Japanese, the smaller-sized cars, the fields of grass and trees off the highway, and then the tall, but narrow, buildings as we got closer to the city, it all really opened my eyes. We really were in Japan!
The Tokyo Dome Hotel is 43 stories tall, making it one of the tallest buildings in all of Japan. There are 10 restaurants, a child care facility, Internet ready rooms, A/C, easy subway access, and everything else you need within a three-block radius. More importantly, it is the hotel from the movie, “Lost in Translation,” so a few of the bars and hallways will look familiar to movie fans.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by Yoshi Okamoto. Mr. Okamoto is the BJ League (Japan’s professional basketball league) representative who not only helped create the proposal for this trip, but also a great friend of WG Director Susan Hovey.
Rooms 3505 – 3509
It was wonderful that all of us were in rooms next to each other. I was very excited and foresaw a dorm-like experience.
Each member of our group took the elevator to the 35th floor and entered each room with much anxiety. One of my favorite things to do is compare hotel experiences and this was one to add to the list. The very first thing I noticed when we entered the room was how low everything was to the ground! The beds were barely up to my knees! Yet, I was sure this 5’2” figure would fit just right.
I quickly saw the best part of the room upon pulling open the curtains. The view was phenomenal.
Thera and the Warrior Girls could see nearly all of Tokyo from their 35th floor hotel room. (warriors.com photo)
We didn’t have too much time to enjoy the view right away, as we had a meeting with the BJ League to get to. It was a short walk to the restaurant where we were seated in a private room fill with all the important people we would need to know throughout this experience. It was considerate of them to make it a short meeting after a long day of travel and it ended with them picking up the bill for our dinner. It was time for some authentic Japanese Cuisine.
Because Jen was feeling a little under the weather, we all agreed to find a place that served delicious Ramen; a common Japanese noodle soup. Yoshi was able to find the perfect place but it wasn’t a Japanese restaurant. Supposedly, we were eating at a Chinese restaurant, but the soups were unlike any Chinese noodle soups I had ever had in The States. It must have been a Japanese-influenced Chinese cuisine. Just like how I think Panda Express is American-influence Chinese cuisine. No matter what, we were eating good food, with great friends, in Tokyo, Japan.
After we finished our meal, it was 11 p.m. (7 a.m. back home) and we were ready to call it a night. It felt like one of the longest days of my life (being awake for 22 hours). Who would’ve thought the small knee-high bed would look so enticing.
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