University College freshman Ashley Liddell was just out to get some experience when she auditioned last week for the Oklahoma City Thunder Dance Team.
The Norman native instead impressed the judges enough to earn a spot on the squad, although a goof initially left Liddell disappointed.
“They called 19 names instead of 20 and I didn’t get called. They skipped my name,” she said.
Nearly 200 women auditioned for the 20 available spots on the squad, which will perform at home games for the Thunder, Oklahoma’s first professional sports team.
Although she was one of the youngest applicants, Liddell indeed managed to grab one of the 20 spots on the squad, as did Kimberly Sullivan, human relations senior. She and Sullivan will make their debut at the first home game Oct. 6 at the Ford Center.
“I really didn’t expect it to be me. I threw my jacket off the stage. It was pretty funny,” Liddell said.
Liddell, 18, said she has been dancing since she was 7 and was a member of Norman North High School’s Pom Squad.
There were multiple phases to the audition, which began Sept. 7. The judges initially selected 80 applicants and then chose 40 to advance.
The applicants performed three kinds of dances for the judges: jazz, hip-hop and a self-made solo, Liddell said.
“I was just doing it for the experience. I didn’t expect to make it,” Liddell said.
Sullivan started dancing at 5 years old and has performed in competitions and recitals. She also danced on the Norman North High School pom squad, and then on the OU Pom Squad for four years.
“I was the captain senior year. I also taught dance and coached pom at Norman North,” Sullivan said.
Both Sullivan and Liddell will face a busy schedule as they juggle school with dance practice, which will be 7 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, as well as occasional Saturdays.
“It’s going to be hectic, but worth the hard work,” Sullivan said.
The women of the Oklahoma City Thunder Dance Team are required to be enrolled in school full time or have a full-time job, Liddell said.
“It’s not too uncommon for a dance team. They want people who have a professional life,” OU Spirit Coordinator Lori Kemmet said.
Sullivan said that her years on OU’s pom squad prepared her well for the Thunder Dance Team.
“It gave me experience not only cheering in front of 85,000 people, but also media experience,” she said. “I learned not to be afraid of cameras, fans, large crowds, and it also gave me the confidence I needed for tryouts.”