On Saturday, July 27th, I heard the best four words I have ever heard in my life: “Number Five, Jenna Shore.” I laughed and cried tears of joy as I sprinted to the stage where all of the final Lady Panthers stood…what an unforgettable moment! I was granted the opportunity to fulfill my passion to dance at a professional level - a venture I have only dreamed would one day become a reality.
Walking into the first practice of the season as a rookie was definitely intimidating. I look at my rookie season as a chance to prove myself - a chance to prove my motivation and my trainability; I look at my rookie season as a chance to prove how much I love to dance and how grateful I am to call myself a Lady Panther.
As if making a team of 37 beautiful and talented girls wasn’t enough, we received an email on August 1st. We were told to leave the following weekend open, for the “Lady Panthers Retreat” for an entire weekend to bond with our new teammates. The Organization was even able to start our weekend off early with tickets to Cirque Du Soleil on Friday before we headed to Vacation Villages out in Weston for our relaxing weekend getaway!
Friday night was explained to be a spa night:
“We will be having a spa night, please bring a robe and slippers (Best robe and slippers will win a prize!)”
–Director, Kelli Russell
You better believe I put on my pinkest, silkiest robe and wore my fluffy, cheetah, grandma slippers! Turns out, jokes were on us… the vets were dressed in their beautiful, red Panther Robes with totally hot outfits underneath! All of the rookies were assigned a veteran for our “makeover.” I must say, Ashley H. really nailed my pigtail buns and accessorized me beautifully with gaudy barrettes that really complimented my…rookie-ness? Not to mention the slimy green facemask she generously smeared on my forehead and cheeks! (We did have team poster coming up so it was essential for my skin to be fabulous) And just when we think we’ve survived initiation, we learn about the scavenger hunt we will be doing…in a public shopping center! The tasks on the scavenger hunt were hilarious and really fun to do. We did things from directing traffic “like a diva” to choreography in front of regular patrons! And don’t forget, we were still rocking our super hot hair-do’s and green face masks, not to mention our robes and slippers… and oh yeah, it was raining (Thanks, Florida.) The laughs we had during the scavenger hunt are irreplaceable memories that I will never forget!
Saturday morning began with a team jog and then we were able to relax, talk, and get to know each other poolside! (My kind of day.) Everyone got the chance to mingle and talk in a stress-free, non-dance environment. I learned very quickly that I was surrounded by a group of genuine, compassionate girls. In such a short amount of time, friendships blossomed, and we became family… I have no doubt that my teammates are going to become some of my very best friends.
Saturday night we had an amazing team dinner at Kitchen 305 in Miami. We all reminisced on the shenanigans from the previous night’s scavenger hunt. We talked about the week’s audition process, and the anticipation and excitement for the upcoming season. Dinner ended with giant clouds of cotton candy served in over-sized martini glasses; hands down, the best part!
As I left the hotel on Sunday morning, my heart was happy. I think it finally hit me that I was actually a member of The Lady Panthers. I made 36 new friends that are living this journey as a Lady Panthers Dancer with me. As the surreal feeling of making an NHL dance team becomes real, I am more thankful and humbled everyday.
Can’t wait to meet all of the fans on opening night, October 11.
See you soon,
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