Opinions on the role of Ice Girls and cheerleaders (or as the Ducks call them Power Players) range far and wide. Despite what some might think, it doesn't simply come down to what type of genitalia one has. Recently the topic has been broached in this article on Puck Daddy and a subsequent rebuttal on ThePinkPuck.com. This week I got a chance to get a glimpse of what the experience is like within the Ducks organization by interviewing Allie, who is in her second season as a Ducks' Power Player. [Note: Thanks to Jen Neale of Puck Daddy as well as our own Lois Yang and Liz Brownstein for lending a feminine touch to my questions.]
Q. How and why did you decide to become a Ducks Power Player?
A. I wanted to become a Power Player because I have a few friends who had been Power Players previous years and had all told me what an awesome opportunity it was. Not only do you get to be involved at the home games, but you also do events helping out around the community and that was something that really made me interested in the job. I have a co-worker at my full time job who is also a stage manager for the Ducks and he encouraged me and a good friend of mine to try out last season.
Q. What kind of background did you have in performing prior to trying out?
A. I had been a cheerleader all of high school and taken dance and gymnastics classes for most of my life. I also work at a local amusement park so I have been performing for a long time.
Q. Have you ever played hockey/were you a Ducks or hockey fan before becoming a Power Player?
A. I had never played hockey before, but I had gone skating every once in awhile just for fun. I was a Ducks fan because I lived so close to the Honda Center, but I never really followed professional sports before I made the team. That has been another great part of having this job. I have such a love for hockey and the Ducks now and my whole family has become huge fans as well.
Q. What was the audition process like?
A. The audition was exciting. There were a few different parts. The first part was skating. You had to skate across the ice at Anaheim ice, stop in front of a camera, introduce yourself to the five judges standing behind the camera and tell them in about 10 seconds why you would make a good Power Player. After all the girls went, they had us skate around for about 10 minutes. My first year, they brought out the shovels and we did a few runs with the shovels as well.
The next part was a quick interview. We met the judges one by one and they asked us a few standard interview questions. A few days after that, those who had made it past the second cut got a phone call.
The last part of the audition was a formal interview at the Honda Center. It was longer than the first interview and the questions were more in depth.
They let us know a few weeks later who had made the team with another phone call. I was so excited when I got that phone call after going through that whole process. It was the best feeling in the world.
Q. What is the average game day like for you? What kind of preparations do you have to do? Are there any tasks that are your favorites or anything that we might not expect?
A. An average game day we get to the Honda center two and a half hours early. If the game starts at 7:00, we are there at 4:30. We spend the first 15 minutes warming up on the ice and then we have 30 minutes of drills. We have a few guys who help us out on the ice during the game and they are all coaches/skating instructors. So we get a really hard workout in and practice skating and doing routes before every game. After that we get dressed, have a meeting with the stage managers and then head up to the concourse. Depending on the time of the year, we are signing calendars, taking pictures with fans, or encouraging fans to sign up for the first intermission game.
During the game we have two sets of girls. You can either be on ice or "in the bowl." If you're in the bowl you are running around the whole game to each section of the Honda Center. You are involved in all the game entertainment. Anything from seat upgrades, lucky sections, prize giveaways, t-shirt throwing, or just getting the crowd pumped up during the game.
If you are on ice you are wearing your skates and standing in the Zamboni tunnel the whole game. During each period we go out three times during the commercial breaks. We have 90 seconds to clean the whole ice sheet. We have seven girls and two guys with shovels and buckets and we clear off all the snow. It's hard work and we have to get it done fast. Looking down onto the ice it looks like an easy job, but we are skating fast and hard and when the snow piles up, it gets really heavy. I don't know if people realize how hard we work.
My favorite part of the game is three stars. At the end of the game, if we win, we skate out and cheer on three players from the team and they go and give their hockey sticks to someone in the crowd. It's the most exciting feeling skating out onto the ice after a winning game. The energy from the crowd is great and it's fun to see the kids faces light up if they get a stick from a player.
Q. The role of the Power Players can be somewhat controversial in relation to sexism in sports. What are some of the negative assumptions you come across from people and how do you respond to them?
A. A lot of people see us in our outfits and can't get over the way we are dressed. They think we are at the games for the wrong reasons. People see a girl with a pretty face showing her stomach and think we are doing it for attention and don't have much else going for us. Sometimes people will make rude comments, but you just have to let it go. Being a Power Player is a part time job, all of us on the team have either a full time job as well or go to school full time. Some of us do both and then we still have to find time to eat healthy and work out. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it because being a part of this team is so rewarding. It can get frustrating when people think we are just at the game to "look pretty" and don't do much else, but you just have to remind yourself that not everyone feels that way. A lot of people come and talk to us before the game and appreciate what we do and get to know us and that's one of the reasons why we do what we do.
Q. What kind of activities do you and the other Power Players do in the community?
A. We work a lot of golf tournaments for different charities. We also help out with events for season ticket holders, like the holiday skate party and Faceoff Fest. We helped paint a mural encouraging students to read at a local school and planted trees around the playground. We do some events at CHOC Children's Hospital and different elementary schools. Last holiday season we helped out an event where people brought toys and stuffed animals for kids in need and we put them inside of buses. We ended up getting enough items to fill up 16 buses. One event, we have every year on Thanksgiving Day is called We Give Thanks. We help lots of volunteers from around the community give the less fortunate a special Holiday meal. It's a really great event and it's neat to be part of something where so many people come together to help out others.
Q. Finally, I understand the Power Players are having some kind of Broom Ball event tomorrow night after the Nashville game. How can our readers get involved with that?
A. We are having a charity Broom Ball game this Friday. You get discounted tickets for the Ducks vs. Nashville game, plus after the hockey game you get to come out onto the Honda Center ice and play Broom Ball. A portion of the proceeds goes to The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. All you have to do is go to www.anaheimducks.com/ppbroomball. Click on my picture (I'm Allie) and type in ALLIE when it asks for the special code!