Brandy's Rookie Report

As hard as it is to believe, it has already been an entire year since we all started our journey to become Celtics Dancers. When I made the Celtics Dancers last summer, I knew I was lucky to be joining a truly talented dance team and storied organization. But I had no way of knowing just how unbelievable the coming season would prove to be. As high as my expectations were for my Rookie year, it was definitely more exciting than I originally imagined.

So many things exceeded my expectations, in fact, that I had to make a list:

Garden crowd
I don't think there is any doubt that the Garden fans are the best in the NBA. Not every dance team is lucky enough to dance for a full house every night, and we were consistently amazed at the energy and enthusiasm the fans bring to every game. (Especially during the Playoffs and Finals -- that place was rocking!) To the Father and Son dressed as Shrek and Donkey, the guys who came to games wearing the giant bobble-head masks, Balcony Gino and Aztec Gino, and all the other familiar faces who made it up on the Jumbotron game after game -- thanks for making this season so memorable. Boston fans, you can't be beat!

Choreography learned
I think we were all a little bit amazed by the amount of choreography that fit into our brains during this past year. Between routines, timeouts, halftime shows (!), player introductions/pregame, and Gino, we learned a lot of choreography. And somehow retained it all season! Personal favorite? Our routine to "Girls" : )

Hairspray purchases
Actually, I can't limit this to simply hairspray (although I did go through more bottles than I anticipated.) The amount of Jergen's Express Tanning Lotion, mascara, nylons and safety pins that we went through as a team greatly exceeded my expectations. Although, this is probably because we had such a long postseason run, so I'm not complaining!

Length of the season
Trust me, there is no accurate way to describe just how exciting it was to be a part of the NBA Finals. As dancers, we felt beyond blessed to be a part of a Championship Series. We were so lucky to still be dancing in June when the regular season ended in April. Thank you, Celtics, for an incredible postseason... it is something we'll never forget!

Friendships made
It's hard NOT to become great friends with 17 girls who you spend almost every waking hour with over the course of an entire NBA season, but I can truly say the friendships we made this year will be with us for a long time. No matter where life takes us, we can always look back on this year and know that we were a part of something very special: the 2009-10 Celtics Dancers. Thanks for all the memories ladies, it's been an amazing Rookie Year!

After months of looking forward to what the veterans on our team could only describe as "on another level," the 11 Celtics Dancer rookies have finally gotten our first taste of the Garden playoff atmosphere. So far the postseason has been just what our veterans assured us it would be: a Garden that's absolutely buzzing with anticipation, die hard fans acting even crazier than usual, and a thrilling sense that anything can happen. In short, they are everything exciting about the regular season- amplified.

In fact, that is definitely my first reaction to the Playoffs. It's LOUD.

The fans have certainly turned up the volume in the arena. Whether it's the celebratory chorus of "Shipping Up to Boston" or the chants of "MVP!" for an amazing performance from Rondo, the crowd has seemed to get louder with each game. Even after a handful of playoff home games, I'm still not prepared for the absolute roar from the stands during player introductions. By the time "the Captain...annnnnnd The Truth!" is announced, we can barely hear our music! (Not that I'm complaining.)

My other reaction to the Playoffs so far is that they really do feel like a new season. As a team, we came into the postseason complete with new routines, new choreography for timeouts, and of course, flashier new costumes. Everyone seems to bounce into the locker room with a renewed sense of energy, and the butterflies from Opening Night (was that really six months ago??) are definitely back.

And here is a little insider info for all of you... the Dancers have some good luck rituals that may or may not be behind the Celtics' success so far this postseason. I'd say most, if not all of us, have a specific item of clothing that we wear on game days, or mirror that we use before games that we superstitiously believe brings the team good luck. I suppose there's no way to prove that Alison L's Irish socks, Red's "Blackwing" figurine, or Alison P's Championship Ring help bring home a victory...but you better believe they'll all be in full force at the next Playoff game. Just in case : )

Back in October, our coach Marina tried to warn us, "Get ready girls. Once this train starts rolling, it doesn't stop!" Well, here we are, already half way through the regular season, and it's hard to believe how quickly the time has passed. It seems like just yesterday that we were at practice learning our first routine, but by the end of yesterday's actual practice we had learned our fifteenth. Games that we circled on our calendar months ago are starting to arrive. Marina was right; this train is at full speed.

The cycle of "practice, game, repeat" certainly keeps the 18 of us busy, and by now, things that once seemed momentous are becoming routine. For instance, a few months ago we would feel pretty accomplished if we finished learning an entire dance during one practice. Today? Finishing a routine in one practice is typical. One and done. Let's get it on the court!

Or take Clacy, for example, who had to recruit a number of fellow dancers (including Marina) to help get her hair to its optimum volume and curl on Opening Night. Twenty games later, she is a hair styling pro and typically one of the first of us to be ready. She then gets to spend the rest of her time in the locker room entertaining us with stories in her southern drawl :)

Yes, we've logged a lot of long practices at this point. We're starting to face some fairly serious weather as we venture to and from the Garden for games. And by now, days off are more uncommon than days on. However, just when it starts to feel like a grind, when you forget for just a moment how much you love it, something will happen: a fan holding a "My First Celtics Game" sign will flash up on the Jumbotron, you will get to see the 2008 Championship Trophy in person for the first time, or the Celtics will beat Portland dramatically in overtime, and the Garden crowd will give you a goosebump-inducing glimpse of how loud they can really be. It never fails. Before you have a chance to forget, something will remind you how lucky you are to have this job.

It's way too early to stop the train now. Second half of the season? Bring it on!

With only a couple of weeks left in December, the Holiday Season is finally in full swing! And because it is my first season as a Celtics Dancer, the Holidays this year are filled with more to celebrate than ever before. As dancers, not only are we given the opportunity to volunteer in the community and participate in Christmas Parades during the holidays, but we are also lucky enough to have 17 new friends (who already feel like family) to celebrate with.

One of the things I'm most looking forward to is our Dancer Gift Exchange. In case you were curious, here's a little glimpse into the kinds of things that are on our holiday wish list as dancers:

New Playlists for the Locker Room
As rookies, we've learned quickly that quality pre-game jams are a hallmark of the Celtics Dancers locker room experience. Our captains, Alison and Meghan, (and their iPods) do a great job providing our gameday soundtracks, and hearing new songs come up on the playlists is always exciting.

Karaoke Machine
Did I mention that we tend to sing along to these jams? Some more than others of course (ahem, Erika) but it's a pretty big part of our pre-game ritual. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a karaoke machine at our next Dancers get-together. We could really do some damage.

CVS Giftcard
To help us stockpile our game day necessities. The 18 of us move through things like hairspray, makeup, safety pins, and nylons VERY quickly.

Virtually Anything from the Celtics Pro-Shop
Like the other new girls on the team, my wardrobe of Celtics gear has increased substantially in the past few months. But that doesn't mean I feel like I have enough! Seemingly, at least one dancer at every practice or game shows up in something new and adorable that we all have to have. Hey, we've got to make sure we're "repping" the team, right?

A Foot Massage
Of course we all love dancing, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that we work hard. Sure, our routines on the court only last about a minute, but believe me, we put in the hours to make sure they're perfect. :) Occasionally, sore muscles and aching bodies are the price we pay for those long nights of practice. Why specify a foot massage? Um, have you seen our boots?

Those are just a handful of things we'd probably be excited to receive this year, but the real gift is being able to dance for all of you great Celtics Fans. From all of us to all of you, Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

"Enjoy it, girls! You only get one Opening Night!" Marina yelled out to us in our huddle before taking the court. Cue the deep breaths. Here we were, at a night many months in the making... our first game as a Celtics Dancer. And as our coach reminded us, we were doing our best to absorb every moment.

For the 11 of us who are in our Rookie season as Celtics Dancers, Opening Night was the biggest in a long line of "Firsts" since our names were called to join the team three months ago. We had already experienced our first practice (exhausting), first uniform fitting (unbelievable), first photo shoot (nerve-wracking), and first post-photo-shoot-celebratory-dinner together (delicious!), but Opening Night had more firsts than the past few months combined.

We got to cheer during our first player introductions, perform our first routines for the fans, see our first slam-dunks and three-pointers from some of the best seats in the house, and perhaps best of all, take our first steps onto the court (it was fun to see that even after two or three years, the veterans on our team still get excited to run out onto the parquet.) To top it all off, thanks to the Celtics' dominant play, we even got to celebrate with our very first "Gino."

Wow. It was every bit as thrilling as our veteran teammates assured us it would be...a perfect night. But perhaps the best part of our one and only "First Opening Night" was after the game ended - looking at each other with excitement and saying, "I can't believe we get to do this again on Friday!"

With 41 home games, it looks like we'll be saying that to each other a lot this year. Opening Night was incredibly fun, but believe me, we are just as excited about our "First" second, third, and fourth games. I think I speak for all the rookies when I say that we plan on savoring each and every one. After all, we only get one "First Season" as a Celtics Dancer.


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