by Kama Korvela
They’ve got spirit, yes they do!
In the fall of 2010, a group of co-eds from the University of Southern California came together to form the USC Ice Girls, a spirit squad for the university’s ice hockey team. The group quickly became a fixture and fan favorites at the team’s games.
“The Ice Girls are loosely modeled after the pro-team squads, especially our NHL partner, the Anaheim Ducks,” said Johnny Nguyen, the assistant general manager and executive director of hockey operations for USC. “What makes our Ice Girls unique is that we perform both figure skating routines and ice crew duties.”
Nine of the 16 Ice Girls are trained figure skaters and perform during the intermission of the games, while others interact with the spectators and serve as ice crew members. The ice crew duties include sweeping the ice of snow and debris during games.
“There is a specific route we have to take when we shovel — the way we scoop the ice is important,” said Niki Huenergardt, one of the co-captains of the squad.
The Ice Girls are also heavily involved in promotional duties for the hockey team, including taking photos with fans and passing out items such as posters. Away from the ice, the squad makes public appearances and engages in community outreach.
For many former competitive figure skaters, squads like the Ice Girls are a great way to stay connected to the sport.
“I love being able to continue my skating throughout college,” Huernergardt said. “It has been so much fun being able to do performances in front of the crowd and to learn maneuvers of hockey at the same time.”
Unlike Huernergardt , co-captain Alexandria Simmsgeiger joined the Ice Girls with little skating experience.
“I only took about a year of skating lessons when I was 6 and I skated with friends for fun every once in a while,” she said. “Joining the Ice Girls was random for me, but it was also a good fit since they were looking for someone who could represent USC well and who could quickly learn the basics in skating.”
Though they are a new addition to USC, the Ice Girls are already making their mark, Nguyen said.
“USC has had a great and long tradition of spirit squads, and it’s a tough road to follow,” he said. “But the Ice Girls are starting to carve out a niche of their own.”
For more information on the USC Ice Girls:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/USCIceGirls, @USCIceGirls