By Michael Kinney
Jaimie George has been through it all in her three years as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder Girls dance team.
So when George, a native of Yukon, joined 31 other ladies Thursday night at the Riverwind Casino for the final auditions for the 2017-18 Thunder Girls, she was in her element.
After more than two hours of auditions, George heard her named called for the fourth time to be a Thunder Girl.
“I’m just overwhelmed with what Thunder Girls gives to me, my experiences” George said. “And each year is completely different so to know that I can come back for a fourth year and see what it holds and what surprises are in store is just, exhilarating to me.”
George was one of 20 who made the team this year. That includes six first timers.
With so many rookies, that allows veteran like George to help guide the first year members into a whole new world.
“I think I can pass on just my past experience. I know what it’s like to be a rookie and how at times it can be challenging and it’s a lot to take in,” Oklahoma City’s Kayle Marshall said. “And it basically takes a year to get everything down but it’s just breathing and taking everything in cause, not many people are able to get this experience so just live through the moment.”
As in the past, the final audition was comprised of three rounds. First was the question and answer segment. Then the dancers paired and displayed a choreographed dance routine.
The final stage an individual free dance where each competitor showed off their best moves.
The panel of judges included Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne,National Guard Lt. Col. Craig Robinson, Joey Combs from 98.9 Kiss FM and Mike Ipong from Wild 104.9. They joined Paige Carter, dance team manager and choreographer, in making the final decisions.
During the week, finalists took part in business interviews, fitness training and rehearsals to prepare for the finals.
“Tryouts are a very stressful week, honestly,” George said. “And people ask me like oh it’s your fourth year you’re probably not even nervous but, I mean you still have to get on stage and you have to do your best and I honestly think it’s harder because, coming back as a veteran, you have a standard to uphold so I just have to know that I have to beat myself from the year before so.”
In her time with the Thunder, George said she has learned a lot about herself.
“Over my first three years I’ve learned hardships gonna happen, you’re gonna get tired, you’re gonna get stressed out,” George said, “but you just have to lean on your teammates because we’re all in this together so … You definitely can’t be an individual on the team.”
The NBA regular season doesn’t begin until late October. But the Thunder Girls will busy doing activities in the community and making appearances.
“I am extremely excited for the upcoming season with this outstanding group of talented women,” Carter. “These ladies work so hard all season long, and I look forward to the energy they will add to the Thunder experience at Chesapeake Energy Arena and serving as great ambassadors in the community.”