MEET THE NEW SQUAD
The 2018 Charger Girls squad has been announced. Meet all 28 dancers!
"I wasn't even expecting her to call my number, so when she called it, I thought, 'That's my number. Wait, that's my number!' It was unbelievable."
As Imani stood onstage at The Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, she couldn't believe what had just happened. A lifelong dancer, a week's worth of work came down to Thursday night where she and 27 other women were chosen as members of the 2018 Los Angeles Charger Girls.
"We had our work cut out for us," said Los Angeles Chargers' Lisa Simmons. "Those finalists had to wait a really long time while we deliberated and put together the team. But we are confident we put together the best possible team of 28 to represent the Los Angeles Chargers this season."
This year's squad is comprised of 16 veterans and 12 rookies. The group features a teacher, an entrepreneur, paralegal, addiction therapist and multiple graduates of UCLA, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine among others in graduate programs at schools like Baylor.
Imani was one of hundreds of women who auditioned on May 20 for a coveted spot on this year's squad. After two rounds of cuts, Simmons and a panel of judges sent 68 women through to finals. After two sets of interviews throughout the week, the 68 convened one final time at L.A. Live. After performing the preliminary choreography with poms in small groups of three, they then presented solo choreography which allowed the dancers to showcase their unique, individual dance styles.
The stakes on Thursday were higher than ever before as they had to perform in front of judges like former "Entertainment Tonight" host Mary Hart and three-time Emmy award winning choreographer and entertainment legend, Debbie Allen.
"We knew this was a talented group, but it really showed when they got an opportunity to showcase their six eight-counts of choreography," Simmons added. "They come from diverse backgrounds when it comes to their dance and performance experience, so it's really fun for us as judges to see them showcase that."
But while dance talent is a large part of what it takes to make the squad, these 28 women are the total package. Although they share a common love for performing, they're educated, driven, ambitious, and above all, enjoy giving back.
"In getting to know the ladies better during their one-to-one interviews and formal interview in front of a panel of judges, it was apparent that they are incredibly passionate about giving to their community and supporting their community. It was really refreshing for us to learn that because that's really important for us as an organization."
These 28 women are now representatives of the team both on the sidelines and as ambassadors for the community. For veterans like Lauryn, it's a reason she keeps re-auditioning year after year.
"I come back every year because I love what the Charger Girls do in the community," she said. "I have been able to have such amazing, life-fulfilling experiences through the Charger Girls. I've gone to hospitals and visited kids. I've gone and supported the troops. I've just had some of the most amazing experiences and I keep coming back for that. It's more than just dancing. It's more than just football. It's about people, relationships and changing lives."